Christianity in iraq
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Christianity in Iraq. By Dr. Suha Rassam ICIN. The Matrix. Mesopotamia under Persians /Zoroastrian The Rest of ME under the Romans/Pagans. The two empires in conflict The majority of the population were Pagans A large Jewish community in Iraq/exiles. Evangelisation.

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Christianity in iraq l.jpg
Christianity in Iraq

By Dr. Suha Rassam


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The Matrix

  • Mesopotamia under Persians /Zoroastrian

  • The Rest of ME under the Romans/Pagans.

  • The two empires in conflict

  • The majority of the population were Pagans

  • A large Jewish community in Iraq/exiles

Evangelisation l.jpg

  • Tradition: Thadaeus &Thomas/Aggai&Mari

  • Travel:Trade & pilgrimage

  • Jews from Mesopotamia (Acts 2:5-10)

  • Gradual infiltration amongst Jews, Pagans and Zoroastrians

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The Churches of Iraq

  • The Church of the East/Nestorian/Persian

  • The Syrian Orthodox Church/Miaphysite

  • The Chaldean Church 1553/ largest

  • The Syrian Catholic Church 1662

  • Protestant,Armenian.Anglican.Greek

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The second Century

  • Church Building

  • Intellectual Converts: Tatian, Bardaisan

  • King Abgar VIII converts to Christianity

  • Synod in Edessa AD 197:Date of Easter

  • The epitaph of Abercuis

  • Representatives in the Council of Nicea

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The Third century

  • Ardashir in 224 had to deal with the Christians & included the church Kokhe within his new capital

  • The Zoroastrian religion was adopted as the official religion of the State in AD286 and apostasy was punishable by death

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The Fourth Century

  • The Forty Years Persecution/ The Great Persecution/ Shapur II/ AD 339-379

  • Yazdgird I 399/peace with the Romans

    Acknowledged the Christians as independent community

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The fifth century

  • 410 AD Attended by representative from the Western Church

  • 424 AD The C.E becomes self-ruling.

  • Note: before the Councils of Ephesus 431& Chalcedon AD 451

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  • Dyophysite theology /School of Edessa

  • The Syriac language as its hallmark

  • Incorporated Greek Philosophy

  • Centres of learning/Scholars & writers

  • Asceticism, Mysticism and Monastic

  • Strongly Missionary

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Arab Abbasid Rule750-1258

  • Christians & Jews: People of the book

  • Had to pay special tax-Jyziah

  • Had to observe Dhimmi rules:

    First Category-always binding

    Second: Only applied if stipulated

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Dhimmi Rules I

  • Should not denigrate Islam,the prophet of Islam or misquote the Qur’an

  • Must not undermine a Muslim’s faith

  • Must not help the enemies of Islam

  • Must not approach a Muslim woman unless he converts to Islam

  • Apostacy from Islam punishable by death.

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Dhimmi Rules II

  • Non-Muslims wear distinctive clothing

  • Should not erect buildings higher than those of Muslims

  • Must not allow sound of bells or talk about Jesus to reach a Muslim ear.

  • Must not display crosses, drink wine or eat pork in front of a Muslim

  • Should not ride a horse but a mule or a donkey.

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The Contributions of the Christians to the Abbasid Civilization 750-1258

  • Pioneered as physicians and had near monopoly in medicine

  • Educators & officials & translators

  • Prominent philosophers

  • Patriarch conducted dialogues with Muslim

  • The Translation Process

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Decline Under Muslim Rule Civilization 750-1258

  • Rigidity of application of Dhimmi rules/9C

  • Increase in number of educated Muslims

  • Increasing strength of the Arabic language

  • Decline in the need of Syriac language

  • The church became impoverished

  • Weakness of the state

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From Abbasid to modern times Civilization 750-1258

  • Mongol rule 1258-1405

  • Turkoman rule 1405-1508

  • Savavid rule

    Struggle for survival.Seat of the Patriarchate moved from place to place as to where it is safest

  • Ottoman rule 1534-1914

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Modern Iraq Civilization 750-1258

  • British rule & Mandate 1918-32

  • Independent Monarchy 1932-1956


  • Republic 1958-2003

    Conflicts/abolition of private education/

    Iraq-Iran war/sanctions/emigration

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Under Occupation Civilization 750-12589 April 2003

  • Lack of law and order

  • Destruction of the infrastructure

  • Persecution/Sunni-Shite

  • Persecution/Shi’as & Sunnis of Christian

  • Survival of the Christian community under threat

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Attacks on Christians Civilization 750-1258

  • Initially: alcohol dealers, barbers, musicians.

  • Kidnapping: Professionals & rich…Ransom

  • Women forced to wear al-Hijab

  • Accusations: Crusaders & American collaborators.

  • Dhimmis & infidels who should convert to Islam, pay the Jyzia, convert, be killed.

  • Calls from Minarets: do not buy their property…they will leave & it is Halal for your.

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Attacks on Churches Civilization 750-1258

  • First concerted attack 1.8.04

  • Last concerted attack 6.1.08

  • Between 26.6.2004-9.1.2008 a total of 45 churches & related Christian places of worship have been attacked.

  • Some attacks were concerted with major damage and loss of life, others isolated with little damage & no loss of life

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Attacks on religious personnel Civilization 750-1258

  • August 04 Patriarch Deli threatened (Baghdad)

  • January 2005 Bishop Mousa kidnapped (Mosul)

  • 17.7.06 Ra’ad Washan K. (Baghdad)

  • 16.8.06 Douglas Al-Bazi & Sa’ad Sirop K.(Bag)

  • 16.8.06 Basil Yaldo K. Baghdad

  • Oct. 06 Paul Iskander K, murdered & body mutilated (Mosul).

  • 15.12 06 Sami al-Rayyis K.& tortured (Baghdad)

  • 3.6.07 Raghid Ganni & three deacons assassinated as they were leaving church after service (Mosul).

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Ethnic Cleansing Civilization 750-1258

  • During the summer of 2007, al-Dora district of Baghdad was attacked by Sunni extremists evicting Shi’a Muslims & Christians from their homes.

  • Christians were asked to convert to Islam, leave their homes, or killed.

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Refugees Civilization 750-1258

  • Eight million Iraqis need humanitarian assistance to ensure their day to day survival (The Times, 18 April 2007).

  • In Syria, 44% of Iraqi Asylum seekers were recorded as Christian since UNHCR began registrations in December 2003 ( Guardian weekly October 20-26 2006)

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Iraqi Church Leaders Civilization 750-1258

  • All Church leaders spoke on various occasions asking to be protected and treated as equal citizens

  • The Patriarch of the Chaldeans gave a cry for help on 6 May 07. He was in tears after a bomb exploded in a Christian village near a school killing 17 children and injuring over 170 individuals:

    ‘I hold responsible all those who can reach a solution to establish peace and stability in our homeland…’

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Bishop Sako to Asia news Civilization 750-1258

  • ‘We can no longer be silent. We have to remind the world of the importance of the Christian presence in Iraq, for the good of Iraq. Christians are suffering from forced evacuation, rape, kidnap, blackmail and killing. Forcing Christians to leave their homes destroy the cultural, civil and religious mosaic of which Iraq is considered to be the very cradle’.

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Bishop Audo Civilization 750-1258

What a great loss it would be If Christianity in Iraq is obliterated, not only to Iraq but to the whole Middle east and to the whole Muslim world

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Summary Civilization 750-1258

  • Within the general context of violence & lawlessness, the Christians suffer more than other Iraqis as they are specifically targeted by Islamists of both sides.

  • They have no militia to protect them, have no safe haven to go to & no country to support them

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Statement 2005 Civilization 750-1258

Christians are threatened, intimidated & their livelihood taken from them, their homes & possessions seized & destroyed.

The longer we refuse to take action, hundreds of Christians are forced to flee their homes in fear of their lives

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Will this community survive? How can we help Civilization 750-1258

  • Make the plight of the Christians known

  • Write to MP

  • Must accept some as refugees

  • Financial help for refugees/charities/ICIN

  • Dialogue/reaching compassionate Muslim voices

  • Western countries should support the Eastern Christians by creating a centre for Eastern Christianity

  • Solving political conflict in the Middle East

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ICIN – Iraqi Christians In Need Civilization 750-1258

  • ICIN is a UK registered Charity which was established to help the Iraqi Christians who, as a result of events during the past few years, have been displaced, destitute, persecuted and are suffering financial hardship.

  • Iraq is no longer front page news but the problems of the Iraqi Christians are still there.

  • Thank you for your support.