Christians attacked in Iraq
The violence which Christians in Iraq have long feared seems finally to have arrived with the brutal murder of two Chaldean Catholic men.
The report, from The Barnabas Fund, was published on the website of the British theological think-tank Ekklesia.
Sabah Gazala and Abdul Ahed who were shot and killed by two Islamic gunmen within ten minutes in separate incidents in Basra.
Like a number of Christians in the city and in other parts of Iraq they were involved in the sale of alcohol, jobs forbidden to Muslims but permitted to Christians under Saddam Hussein's rule.
In recent weeks such vendors have faced severe threats from Shia Muslim conservatives seeking to impose de facto Islamic law (which bans alcohol completely) in Iraq in the chaotic wake of the victory of coalition forces in the country.
Many Christian shop owners have been forced to close, others to defend their premises with metal bars across the windows.
In Basra, Baghdad and across Iraq some Christians are beginning to suffer harassment, threats, intimidation and even violence at the hands of conservative Shia Muslims who want to impose Shari'ah law on both Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
Independent Catholic News
Ekklesia | Iraqis murdered as anti-christian violence increases
Iraqi Christians fearfully look to future (AP)
The Barnabas Fund
20 May 2003