By now it’s commonly known that Iraq’s Christians are facing increasing persecution. But this piece of information from the Guardian UK fascinated me:
Iraq’s Christian population has halved since the ousting of Saddam Hussein. But in the past two months, the rate of departure has soared. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is reporting high numbers of registrations by Christians in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. And in Iraq’s Kurdish north, the number of refugees is overwhelming.
Christians have been arriving since the president of the Kurdish regional government, Massoud Barazani, offered them protection and refuge days after the massacre.
Kurdish officials say at least 1,000 families have taken up the offer. Noufali believes the number is far higher. He says the Kurds have been warm and welcoming, but fears that moving there does not offer his community a long-term solution.
Most of Iraq’s Christian population are ethnic Assyrians, who converted to Christianity during the Roman period and have staunchly resisted both conversion to Islam and being forced away from their traditional lands in modern-day Syria, Iraq, and parts of Iran ever since. (A fact which goes largely unnoticed by those who assume that the Assyrian spoken of in Micah 5:5-6 must be a Muslim.) Here is a website that can give you more information about the modern Assyrians if you are interested.
Other Assyrians are fleeing to Istanbul, which is a sign of just how desperate they see things being in Iraq, since it’s less than a century since Turkey conducted a genocide on its native Assyrian population.
Both Assyria and the Kurds (who are the modern descendents of the Medes) appear prominantly in End-Time prophecy. The Assyrian passages (e.g., Mic. 5:5f, Isa. 14) have been largely overlooked due to the presumption that they were already fulfilled, but have been brought back into the limelight by Walid Shoebat’s theories of a Muslim Antichrist. The attack of the Medes on Babylon, predicted in Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 50-51, are far better known. As a result, we’ll be watching this new turn of events very carefully in the coming months and years to see whether the current outpouring of goodwill is just a flash in the pan, or whether it grows into a more permanent relationship.
- Incipient Genocide: The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of Iraq (teaandpolitics.wordpress.com)
- Remembering the Christians of Iraq on Christmas Eve (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- Iraq Attack Kills Elderly Assyrian Couple and their Daughter At Home (teaandpolitics.wordpress.com)
- At War: For Some Iraqi Christians – Shelter in Istanbul (atwar.blogs.nytimes.com)
- More Christians are Fleeing Iraq (nytimes.com)
- Christians fleeing Iraq – and every other Arab country. NYT not sure why. (elderofziyon.blogspot.com)
- Iraq’s Christian exodus gathers pace (guardian.co.uk)