Fleeing Persecution, Christians Seek Refugee Status in Other Countries

July 13, 2004

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


On July 13, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "Facing a rising tide of persecution, Iraq's tiny Christian minority has a terrible choice: stay and risk their lives, or leave and abandon those left behind. Afraid of an Islamic future in which they would be outcasts, thousands are trying to flee. 'It's like a huge amount of people lined up at the starting line, waiting for the gun to go off, and now it's going off,' says the Rev. Ken Joseph, an Iraqi-American Christian activist in Baghdad. 'For them to leave is a very big step, but that shows how badly people want to get out.' It is difficult to gauge the exodus, because most Christian groups, desperately wanting Christians to stay, deny that there is any problem. (Iraq's new minister of displacement and migration, Pascale Isho Warda, was in Europe and unavailable for comment.) But Issaq Issaq, director of international relations for the Assyrian Democratic Movement, estimates that about 2,000 families have tried to leave since summer began. 'They want to leave, because they heard they can get asylum in Australia,' he says. 'We are trying to keep these people in Iraq, because it is their country.'"