"Another wave of persecution will be the end of Christianity after 2,000 years" in Iraq, an Iraqi Christian leader recently said. In an interview earlier this month, Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali of Basra discussed how more than a decade of violent persecution has virtually annihilated Iraq's Christian minority. Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Christian population has dropped from 1.5 million to about 250,000 -- a reduction of 85%. During those 15 years, Christians have been abducted, enslaved, raped and slaughtered, sometimes by crucifixion; a church or monastery has been destroyed about every 40 days on average, said the archbishop.
While it is often assumed that the Islamic State (ISIS) was the source of the persecution, since that terror group's retreat from Iraq, the situation for Christians has barely improved. As the archbishop said, Christians continue to suffer from "systematic violence" designed to "destroy their language, to break up their families and push them to leave Iraq."
According to the "World Watch List 2018" report, Christians in Iraq -- the eighth-worst nation in the world in which to be Christian -- are experiencing "extreme persecution," and not just from "extremists."
Although "Violent Religious Groups" (such as the Islamic State) are "Very Strongly" responsible, two other societal classes seldom associated with the persecution of Christians in Iraq are also "Very Strongly" responsible, the reportstates: 1) "Government officials at any level from local to national," and 2) "Non-Christian religious leaders at any level from local to national." Also, three other societal groups -- 1) "Ethnic group leaders," 2) "Normal citizens (people from the general public), including mobs," and 3) "Political parties at any level from local to national" -- are all "Strongly" responsible for the persecution of Christians in Iraq. In other words, virtually everyone is involved.
The report elaborates:
"Violent religious groups such as IS and other radical militants are known for targeting Christians and other religious minorities through kidnappings and killings. Another source of persecution are Islamic leaders at any level, mostly in the form of hate-speech in mosques. Government officials at all levels are reported to threaten Christians and 'encourage' them to emigrate. Also, normal citizens in the north have reportedly made remarks in public, questioning why Christians are still in Iraq."