Extremists turn Baghdad church into mosque: report

As a funeral was held for murdered Mosul priest, Fr Ragheed Ganni, Muslim extremists in Baghdad attacked two churches, killing guards at one and forcibly turning the other into a mosque.

Citing an AINA report, Catholic News Agency reports the attacks on two churches in the Baghdad district of Dora.

At St John the Baptist's in Hay Al-Athoriyeen, several security guards who protect the church were killed, and St Jacob's in Hay al Asya was vandalized and forcibly turned into a mosque. St Jacob's had previously been attacked in October 2004.

The attacks coincided with the funeral Mass for Fr Ganni which was being celebrated in Karamles by Archbishop Faraj Rahho of Mosul amidst tight security. The minister of finance of the regional Kurdish government, Sarkis Aghajan, attended the service.

Meanhile, AsiaNews reports that groups in northern Iraq are pushing for the creation of an "Assyrian region" near the border with Kurdistan.

To this end, they are exploiting the anti-Christian persecution to confirm the urgency of carrying out their plan. A project being called for by those who know little of the situation in Iraq, it may be on the agenda for meetings between Bush and the Vatican.

However, the plan is not supported by Iraqi Catholics, who refer to it as a "diabolic and dangerous" plan that "risks creating a division" among Christians, AsiaNews says.

"Concentrating in a single territory a community which is already being targeted, without safety guarantees, means exposing it to enormous risks: those who want to eliminate Christians from Iraq will thus have an easy time of it," a layman from the Iraqi diaspora told AsiaNews.

Iraqi priests in Europe also noted that the Niniveh project "reduces Christians to an ethnic group and puts and end to the Church's mission which is that of working and witnessing the Gospel among nations."

Muslim extremists forcibly turn Catholic church into mosque (Catholic News, 6/6/07)
An "Assyrian ghetto" in the Plains of Niniveh to save Iraq's Christians (AsiaNews, 6/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Who Are Christians of Iraq ?
A Final Appeal: Save Christian Iraq (www.chiesa)

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7 Jun 2007