Less than two decades ago, there were roughly 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Today, that number has dwindled to 250,000.
Iraqi archbishop Rt. Rev. Bashar Warda says Iraqi Christians are facing a “final, existential struggle” against IS, which overran the country shortly after Barack Obama pulled U.S. troops out in 2011. Warda charged westerners with ignoring the plight of the Iraqi Christians out of political correctness.
Iraqi Christians “close to extinction”
“Christianity in Iraq, one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction,” he warned. “Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”
“Our tormentors confiscated our present, while seeking to wipe out our history and destroy our future,” Warda said. “In Iraq there is no redress for those who have lost properties, homes and businesses. Tens of thousands of Christians have nothing to show for their life’s work, for generations of work, in places where their families have lived, maybe, for thousands of years.”
While IS was driven back from its last stronghold in Iraq in March, long-lasting damage to the ancient Iraqi Christian community has been done. And hostility toward Christians is still present.
Some Iraqi Christians “view ISIS as an extreme expression of a hostility that predated the terror group’s rise, and remains after its defeat,” the Atlantic reported, noting that “for many Christians living in northern Iraq, discrimination is a part of life.” This includes hiring discrimination, harassment, and sexual violence.
Political-correctness to blame
Warda blamed the politically correct West for being too afraid of the “Islamophobia” label to condemn what is actually happening.
“Will you continue to condone this never-ending, organized persecution against us?” he asked. “When the next wave of violence begins to hit us, will anyone on your campuses hold demonstrations and carry signs that say ‘We are all Christians?’”
Anglican bishop Philip Mounstephen, who was part of an official British government review into the persecution of Christians globally, agreed. “I think the archbishop is right that a culture of ‘political correctness’ has prevented Western voices from speaking out about the persecution of Christians. I think though this is mainly to do with a reluctance borne of post-colonial guilt,” he said.
And Juliana Taimoorazy, the president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, also expressed a similar sentiment to Fox News earlier this month, saying that ISIS is committing genocide.
“I believe the death of most people suffering today is truly because of political correctness, because the world turns a blind eye to this, and when we are politically correct, we are sympathizing with those terrorists that are destroying communities and erasing history,” she said.
Little hope for improvement
Warda thinks the future is bleak for the ancient church in Iraq. “Friends, we may be facing our end in the land of our ancestors. We acknowledge this. In our end, the entire world faces a moment of truth.”
“Will a peaceful and innocent people be allowed to be persecuted and eliminated because of their faith?” he asked. “And, for the sake of not wanting to speak the truth to the persecutors, will the world be complicit in our elimination?”