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Hooded vandals had dragged out the pews, statues and sacred images into the street, smashing them and setting them on fire. They also sprayed graffiti and abusive slogans on the inside walls of the church as well as on its doors.
“Persecuted & Forgotten?” warns that the Church in the region could vanish if radical Islamists were to mount another attack on vulnerable communities—a threat highlighted by reports of jihadists escaping prison, as a result of renewed violence in northeastern Syria.
“I cannot go anywhere alone, for I might be attacked again, and I cannot worship freely. I have no security or legal protection. Still, I do not want to leave my country. This is my home.”
“So far we don’t know who killed him, although it appears that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. What we do know is that Father Hovsep was dressed in his priestly attire and was consequently identifiable as a priest.”
Father Werenfried wanted to ensure that the Western world knew what was happening in the East. He preached hundreds of sermons on the situation of the persecuted Church, giving a voice to the voiceless.
ACN hopes that this new initiative will restore hope for Iraq’s remaining Christians—a battered and fragile mere 10 percent of the 1.5 million Christians living in the country prior to 2003, when the US invaded the country. The subsequent civil war saw the religiously motivated murder of at least 1,000 Christians.
“We appeal to the conscience of Iraqi officials to listen seriously to their people, who are complaining of the current miserable situation, the deterioration of services, and the spread of corruption.”
In northeastern Syria, Christians are ‘weakest link, because we want to live in peace and reject war’
“The only thing we know for certain is that the bombings and above all the massacres committed by Turks against our community are forcing more and more Christians to flee.”
“But despite this, I know that God is on my side, and I am comforted by His presence. I have the Bible on my phone, and I read it when I am afraid, especially Psalms 23 and 121. And I pray constantly.”
Increasingly, religious freedom is being recognized as a foundational right; there is growing awareness that two-thirds of the world’s population live in countries with restrictions on religious freedom—and that Christians represent the largest faith group experiencing religious persecution.