By Ahmad Jumaa
Iraqi Christians are fleeing their areas particularly in the restive quarters of Baghdad despite the ongoing U.S. and Iraqi military operations to bring stability to the city.
In the violent district of Doura, for example, all the remaining Christians have received written warnings signed by armed groups either to leave or covert to Islam.
Doura was a major Christian center with several monasteries, churches and a major Chaldean Catholic seminary. They are all empty now with monks, priests and congregations fearing to attend them.
A Christian member of parliament, Abdulahad Mansour, said to stay the Christians are forced to pay a tax of 250,000 dinars for each member of the family, an exorbitant sum which only few can afford in Iraq.
“I urge the government to put an end to these threats and practices and find a solution to the suffering of Christians in Iraq,” said Mansour.
Another MP, Romeo Hakari, said large numbers of Christians have fled to the Kurdish north or left the country for Syria or Jordan.
“Iraqi Christians have been subjected, following the collapse of the former regime, and especially in Baghdad, to a real crisis for the first time in their history. Many of them have been killed, many of them have been kidnapped; their churches have been destroyed; and thousands made homeless,” Hakari said.