Christians Targeted In Iraq

Sunday, December 2nd 2007, 4:58 pm
By: News On 6

Are Christians being targeted in Iraq? The subject of a story on Sundays’ 60 Minutes says the answer is emphatically yes. The News On 6’s Dan Bewley reports a Tulsa Christian organization says the report is off-base.

World Compassion has been spreading the Christian faith across the world since 1971. Its efforts have been focused on the Middle East since the attacks of 9-11. 60 Minutes report says Christians are worse in Iraq than ever before, but these local missionaries disagree saying the Christian faith is beginning to thrive.

A Christian church in Baghdad is presided over by a man known as the Vicar of Baghdad, The Reverend Canon Andrew White. He's been in Iraq since before Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

“There's no comparison between Iraq, now and then,” said Anglican Priest Andrew White.

White tells 60 Minutes Scott Pelley, Christians are hunted, kidnapped, and killed on a daily basis.

White estimates 90%of Iraq's Christians have fled the country or been killed by Islamic extremists.

“Actually the figure is a bit high,” said General Georges Sada.

General Georges Sada is an Iraqi native and a Christian. He served in his country's military under Saddam Hussein. Now he works with Tulsa-based World Compassion, helping to spread the Christian word in a predominately Muslim country. Joel Vesanen is World Compassion’s operations director.

“We're working with a church in Kurdistan that is a church made up of almost entirely former Muslims. Eight years ago there were eight believers in this church, now they are 400 strong,” said Joel Vesanen.

World Compassion claims the 90% estimate offered in the 60 Minutes story is far from accurate, although it cannot give its own estimate of targeted Christians in Iraq. Both admit Christians face a difficult time in Iraq, but add Muslims do as well. Sunni's and Shiite's, they point out, target each other. Both say Christianity faces several obstacles in Iraq but also say they're optimistic about the future.

“Before there was a lot of fear, I mean four or five months ago. But now, no there is no fear. And you hope this will increase and it will make peace for 100% everyone,” said Sada.

For more information on World Compassion, click here.

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