Sectarian violence caused tens of thousands of Christians to leave the country in 2011. Christians feel that the government fails to protect them, with individuals being threatened, robbed, raped or kidnapped and churches being bombed. Iraq’s constitution says each individual has freedom of thought, conscience and belief, but there is no article on changing one’s religion and Islamic law forbids conversion of Muslims to other religions. In August, at least four churches were targeted by bomb attacks in Kirkuk. The situation in Kurdistan, for a long time considered a safe haven for Christians, has deteriorated due to Islamic extremism.
- For the many Christian refugees who have been displaced from their homes by religious violence
- For wise leadership and government to bring Christians justice and protection from terrorist groups
- For Open Doors workers training trauma counsellors to help children and families affected by persecution.
Many are familiar with Iraq due to the war, yet there is much more to this country.
In early times, Iraq was known as Mesopotamia, which means the land between the rivers—the Tigris and Euphrates. Some scholars believe that the Garden of Eden was located here. The area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is noted as the ‘cradle of civilization’ and is the place where writing, law and even the wheel were invented. Today, soccer is the most popular sport in Iraq, while an instrument called the oud (similar to a lute) and a rebab (similar to a fiddle) are the most popular instruments. Some popular dishes include Kebab Shawarma, Bamia (lamb, okra and tomato stew), and Falafel.