Religious Minorities Hit From All Sides

July 31, 2007

Author: Ellen Massey

Source: IPS News

WASHINGTON, Jul 31 (IPS) - In the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, scholars from around the world urged the war planners in Washington to take steps to protect Iraq's priceless archaeological heritage.

But the widespread looting of museums and other cultural sites happened anyway. Now, warnings from minority communities in Iraq are also ringing clear: the U.S. must help protect Iraq's diverse religious heritage or these communities will be decimated in the country's internal power struggle.

A movement among some of Iraq's minority groups is calling for U.S. support for a semi-autonomous province, with extra security, which would provide a safe haven near the Nineveh Plains northwest of Mosul.

Four Iraqis and an Anglican priest testified before the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom last week that Iraqi Christians, Jews, Assyrians, Yazidis and Mandaeans face near extermination in their homeland as the violence in Iraq escalates.