BY SIMON CALDWELL
AN IRAQI archbishop has asked the United Nations to investigate terror attacks against Christians in his country.
Syrian Catholic archbishop George Casmoussa of Mosul has called on the UN to lead an international inquiry into a series of bombings and shootings of Christians in the north of the country.
He requested intervention after three buses carrying Christian students were blown up earlier this month, killing four people and injuring about 170.
“An international inquiry should be done by the United Nations, to investigate and understand who is behind the continuing violence and attacks on the Christian community in Iraq,” said the archbishop. “We Christians call for a place where we can live peacefully, cultivating our faith and contributing to the development and progress of the nation,” he told Fides, a Vatican news agency.
“We need the government to guarantee us protection against those who want to eliminate us. After numerous attacks and violence, I have called for the intervention of the United Nations – not for a new military contingent, but to initiate an investigation that determines who is behind these continued acts of violence against Christians.” He said the international community and western governments are also “being asked to put pressure on Iraq, so that it may set in motion all the necessary means to protect the lives of minorities”.
Terrorism continues to plague Iraq in spite of a reduction in attacks on US troops still stationed there, including 20 bomb attacks in a single day last week that left at least 125 dead.
The scale of the violence has prompted former prime minister Iyad Allawi to suggest that Iraq was moving toward a “sectarian civil war” between rival Muslim religious and ethnic factions.
The Council of Christian Church Leaders in Iraq, which comprises 14 religious leaders, will meet later this month to discuss violence that has led to an exodus of a Christian community that has existed since at least the third century.
The Christian population in Iraq has dropped from 1.4 million in 1987 to barely 300,000 today, with many fleeing terror attacks and persecution after the ousting of Saddam Hussein.
Those Christians who remained have been forced out of the Shia-dominated south and have taken refuge around the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, where they form a large minority in a Sunni Muslim area. But they have become victims of sustained attacks by unidentified armed groups.