Two Decades of Persecution Leaves Iraqi Christians with an Uncertain Future
03/21/2023 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – This week marks the 20th anniversary of the launching of the U.S.-led coalition’s invasion of Iraq and the subsequent toppling of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The invasion itself was the culmination of more than two decades of Iraq’s wars with its neighbors, international sanctions, and the building of a powerful, tightly controlled nation under the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein. The US invasion in March 2003 then began what has been characterized by another two decades of turmoil, including internal sectarian violence and a massive exodus of Iraq’s nearly two-thousand-year-old Christian communities.
Prior to the beginning of the second US-Iraq war, Christians in Iraq estimated to number between 1-2 million. Two decades later, the number is estimated to have dropped 80%, with less than 250,000 estimated remaining in Iraq. Between 2005 and 2011, the nation’s security vacuum and sectarian civil war left Christian churches and families vulnerable to a long series of targeted attacks. Between 2014 and 2017, the conflict and attempted genocide by ISIS towards Iraq’s religious minorities, including Christians, led to even greater numbers of Christians leaving Iraq.
Iraqi Christians look ahead to an uncertain future. While a relative calm security situation currently prevails, economic and political challenges are leading to a continued steady flow of Iraqi Christians emigrating from Iraq to seek a better future for their children elsewhere. Some Christians fear that similar persecutions from the past two decades will repeat themselves in their children’s generation, while others look with guarded optimism of their community’s renewed faith purified by the trials of the past two decades to help create a new path forward for the nation. International Christian Concern continues to stand with courageous Iraqi Christians to help them remain as light in Iraq under persecution and hardship.
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