World Bulletin / News Desk
Hundreds of Iraqi Christians have marched on United Nations offices in Erbil, the capital of the country’s Kurdish region, demanding protection from ISIL-led militants who have forced thousands to flee their homes.
Under tight security on Thursday, demonstrators chanted the slogan "We are Iraqis, we are Christians" in Kurdish, Arabic and English, and held banners proclaiming "We are the roots of Iraq, stop forcing us out of our land."
Last month, after ISIL took over large swathes of northern and western Iraq, 300,000 people, including Christians in Nineveh province, fled sectarian violence for the refuge of the Kurdish region.
Last week, ISIL issued an ultimatum for Christians in the northern city of Mosul to pledge allegiance to its rule, pay tax or leave the city.
Organized by the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac Popular Council of Erbil and local churches, the march proceeded from the Chaldean Cultural Center in Erbil’s Christian district Ankawa to the nearby UN compound.
Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Mati Warda said “Christians have inhumanly been driven out of their own houses and land. We call on the United Nations, [the] Kurdish Regional Government as well as [the] Iraqi Federal Government to protect Iraqi Christians.”
Christian protesters were joined by the Union of Islamic Scholars of Kurdistan. A member, Seyid Ekrem said: “We condemn the ill-treatment of Christians and Muslims alike by ISIS [ISIL] in Mosul. Nobody has the right to inflict suffering on non-Muslims in the name of Islam. We are ready to help those displaced in any way needed.”
Four protest representatives were invited into the UN compound to discuss their concerns. The demonstration dispersed peacefully.
Expulsion of Iraq's Christians sends anger in Cairo
The forced expulsion of Christians from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul dominated prayers by the representatives of Egypt's churches at an eastern Cairo church late on Thursday.
The prayers were organized by the Council of Egypt's Churches, an independent union of Egypt's five churches, for peace in the Middle East region.
"We are meeting tonight for our dear country, Egypt, the Christians of Iraq, and the courageous Palestinian people as well as for peoples in Syria, Lebanon and Libya," council secretary-general Father Bishoy Helmi said at the beginning of the gathering.
"Christians were expelled from Mosul, while 30 churches were destroyed in a manner unprecedented in the history of Christianity in Mosul," Father Helmi added.
He said Mosul's Christian population had left the city altogether. Father Helmi added that aggressions against the Christians of Mosul bring nothing but loss to Iraq.
The head of the Anglican Church Father Safwat Bayadi, meanwhile, denounced the forced expulsion of Christians from Mosul.
He quoted a Christian woman from the Iraqi city as saying: "We used to teach them in schools and treat them in hospitals, but they forgot all this all of a sudden and turned into monsters".Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2014, 09:26