Christians in Mosul are fleeing their homes after a spate of killings last week that left 12 Christians dead in one of the largest Christian communities in Iraq.
The killings follow large protests by the community last month against the passage of the provincial elections law. An article that would give representation to Christians and other minorities was removed from the law before its passage.
Now the last haven for Christians is gone, said Canon Andrew White, the vicar of St. George's Church in Baghdad.
After a spree of killings and forced evictions of Iraqi Christians in Baghdad last year, many fled to Mosul. But even there they could not escape the danger. In February Archbishop Paulos Faraj Raho of Mosul was kidnapped and killed.
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“Christians are being killed in the only place they felt safe, in Ninevah,” White said, referring to the province of which Mosul is the capital. “This is where they fled to, and now there's no safe place for them.”
More than a thousand Christian families have fled Mosul for outlying villages and villages in the Kurdistan region in search of safety, a spokesman for the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs said. Posters are being put up with guidelines on how to leave.
“The Christian families left in Mosul are very few indeed,” said Mariwan Nakshabandee, spokesman for the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, which oversees Christian communities in Mosul.
Iraqi Assyrian and Chaldean Catholics trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia and Christian communities were prominent in many major Iraqi cities, including Mosul in the north and Basra in the south and Baghdad.
Christians once were estimated to be about 3 percent of the Iraqi population, or about 800,000 people.
But as Iraq grew bloody and violent, the Christian community dwindled. Now some estimate that more than half of Iraq's Christians have fled.