Iraq has lost more than half the Christians who once called it home, mostly since the war began, and few who fled have plans to return, The Associated Press has learned.
Pope Benedict XVI called attention to their plight during a Mideast visit this week, urging the international community to ensure the survival of "the ancient Christian community of that noble land."
Is this damning of our invasion and the new government? Well, only if we invaded every Middle Eastern country:
The number of Arab Christians has plummeted across the Mideast in recent years as increasing numbers seek to move to the West, saying they feel increasingly unwelcome in the Middle East and want a better life abroad.
Still, it is worse in Iraq, so this must damn the current government, right?
But the exodus has been particularly stark in Iraq — where sectarian violence since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion has often targeted Christians.
So unlike the enlightened Baathists, the Shias are prone to cruelty regarding Iraqi Christians?
Again, not so fast.
Some Christians cite the violence as their reason to flee. Iraqis of all religions and ethnicities have been killed, but Christians had the misfortune to live in some of the worst battlefields, including Dora and the northern city of Mosul, both al-Qaida strongholds.
Execution-style killings late last year targeted Christians in Mosul, as did a string of bombings. In March of last year, the body of Mosul's Chaldean Archbishop was found in a shallow grave a month after he was kidnapped at gunpoint as he left a Mass.
So al Qaeda terrorists--who kill all non-jihadis--are the main reaon for the "sectarian" violence.
Oh, and just what was the position of the Christians under Saddam? Well:
The loss of the small power the community had under Saddam has also played a role in the Christian exodus.
Barred from the army, security services or high-level political positions under Saddam, Christians in Iraq often became doctors, engineers, land owners, and above all civil servants, filling the ministries as technocrats who kept the country running.
Ah, the Christian community sought protection as a minority by working for Saddam to make sure the machinery of Sunni Arab domination over the Shias and Kurds worked smoothly. That might have something to do with Shia and Kurd attitudes, eh? Even if such attitudes aren't the main reason for the Christian flight, given regional trends and al Qaeda attacks in particular.
Plus, there is a perception that the UN will expedite Christian applications for refuge abroad.
The exodus may be tragic, but there are reasons far apart from the current Iraqi government. And the real exodus is happening from the Arab Moslem world--which we largely haven't invaded.
Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but stories like this always strike me as efforts to discredit our liberation of Iraq. But in this case the problem is one of the wider Arab Moslem world.