Christianity in Iraq faces extinction while Britain’s Christian leaders fail to speak out for fear of being accused of Islamophobia, charged the archbishop of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In an impassioned address in London, BBC News reported, the Rt. Rev. Bashar Warda directed his condemnation of “political correctness” to Christian leaders in attendance.
“Will you continue to condone this never-ending, organized persecution against us?” he said. “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’?”
He said Christians in Muslim-majority Iraq face extinction after 1,400 years of persecution.
In 2003, when the U.S. and its allies removed the Saddam Hussein regime, Iraq had an estimated 1.5 million Christians. Just 16 years later, the population had dwindled to 250,000.
“Christianity in Iraq,” Warda said, “one of the oldest churches, if not the oldest church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”
He was referring to the threat from jihadist groups, which he described as a “final, existential struggle.” A multinational military campaign drove ISIS from its stronghold of Baghuz in Syria in March, effectively ending the self-declared “caliphate.” But the archbishop said there is a growing number of other groups that believe the killing of Christians and Yazidis helps to spread Islam.
Earlier this month, the British foreign secretary, Hunt, said, referring to the report, that “political correctness” on the part of governments is partly to blame for the lack of attention to the persecution of Christians.
The report concluded persecution of Christians is at near “genocide” levels in some parts of the world. An estimated one in three people suffer from religious persecution, with Christians the most persecuted group.
The report was commissioned Dec. 26 amid outrage over the treatment of a Christian woman in Pakistan, Asia Bibi, who faced death threats after being acquitted of blasphemy.
Hunt said “there is a misplaced worry that it is somehow colonialist to talk about a religion that was associated with colonial powers rather than the countries that we marched into as colonizers.”
“That has perhaps created an awkwardness in talking about this issue — the role of missionaries was always a controversial one and that has, I think, also led some people to shy away from this topic,” he said