A spate of bombs targeting churches in Baghdad this week has Iraq’s minority Christian community trembling at the prospect of being the next victim of militants trying to reignite war.
Iraqi Christians, one of the country’s weakest ethnic or religious groups, have usually tried to steer clear of its many-sided conflict. For the most part, they manage.
While Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims killed each other by the dozen at the height of Iraq’s sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007, Christians were rarely targeted, although sometimes they were. (Photo: A policeman at the site of a car bomb attack on a Baghdad church, 13 July 2009/Saad Shalash)
On Sunday, in apparently coordinated attacks, five bombs went off outside churches in Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 21, including a number of Christians.
Iraqi Christians or “Messihi”, as they are called by an Arabic word related to the Hebrew term “Messiah,” number around 750,000. That makes them a tiny minority in a Muslim nation of 28 million. They are mostly concentrated around Baghdad and the violent northern city of Mosul, which is still struggling to shake off al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups.