Iraq’s Muslims and Christians: A Widening Divide?

Fr. Clarence Burby is an Iraqi Jesuit priest, a leader of a
minority religion that received protection under Saddam Hussein’s
regime. When the war in Iraq began, Fr. Burby expressed concerns
that religious tolerance in Iraq might be threatened by a regime
change, and his fears came to fruition on Sunday, August 1, 2004,
with the bombing of several Baghdad churches. Fr. Burby claims that
because of the chaos and insecurity caused by Saddam’s overthrow,
Iraq is in far worse condition under the American occupation.

Since churches no longer receive protection against
fundamentalist Islamic groups, churchgoers are now under constant
threat of violence. Women have been attacked and kidnapped on the
way to church, and anonymous threats against Christians are common.
Fr. Burby fears that fundamentalist Islamic groups are exploiting
the unemployment and unrest in the country and that violence
against Christians may increase as time goes on. The continuing
influx of foreign evangelical groups also sparks resentment against
local Christians, who are becoming increasingly and unwillingly
associated with pro-U.S., pro-occupation forces. Though there is
hope that a secular, moderate government might take power in Iraq,
the country’s growing unrest and unemployment, coupled with
fundamentalist Islamic influence from outside and within, suggests
that further violence against Christians may erupt from the
chaos.
Brendan Themes

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Iraq’s
Muslims and Christians: A Widening Divide?

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