There aren't many Christians left in Iraq, they've either left the country or been killed. Of 1.5 million pre-Iraq War, only about half that amount are still there. According to rights activist William Warda every single day around 10 to 20 Christians leave.
“Many Christians ... are fleeing from the country because of this issue, because there is no sign of a bright future.”Who can blame them. He does have a wee bit of hope: the government declared Christmas a national holiday this year. Not that it prevented the massacres from occurring.
And Christian religious leaders are trying to persuade their flock not to desert the Arab world.
“Immigration is not the solution,” said Monsignor Pios Cacha, a priest at Mar Yousif.
“Leaving the country means wiping out our identity, it means the end of our presence here. And our presence as Christians is a symbol of peace.”
And the Shi'ites (although the majority) are reaching out to the Christian minority, since they too are targets of al-Qaeda terrorists. In fact, Shi'ite politician Ammar Al-Hakim made an appearance at the Mar Yousif's Christmas Eve mass.
Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shi’ite party that has sometimes allied with and sometimes opposed Maliki, rose after the sermon and spoke of tolerance, forgiveness and peace, saying Jesus Christ was an example. Then he turned to al-Qaeda.
“They target you like they target us. There are people in this country who believe that anyone who has a different opinion should be killed,” he said as a small army of burly bodyguards in suits fanned out through the church.
“We are partners as targets. We are partners in this challenge. And we will remain partners in confronting extremism, violence and terrorism,” Hakim said.
One car bomb exploded near a church as worshippers were leaving a Christmas Day mass, 27 were killed, 56 or so wounded. The other bomb exploded near a predominately Christian outdoor market killing 11 and wounding around 14. As is usually the case, those numbers could change.
People used to say that the violence in Iraq was a direct result of foreign 'occupation'- that was when foreign troops were still there- but they've been gone a few years and the violence continues. Big time. So much for that theory. Extremists just like to fight, and kill, and that's not going to change any time soon.