The Latin Rite Archbishop of Baghdad, Jean Benjamin Seleiman, said this week that of 700,000 Christians who were living in Iraq up until 2003, more than half have been forced by the violence to leave the country and take refuge in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
The archbishop also explained that Christians live amidst fear but that they are encouraged by ecumenical solidarity. He also warned that in regions like Bassora and Mosul, the faithful live with “daily terror.”
Commenting on the country’s new Constitution, Archbishop Seleiman praised the new elements such as freedom of conscience, but he criticized other aspects such as the declaration that “any law that contradicts Sharia (Muslim law) is null.”
“Iraq is anthropologically structured in a tribal manner and this a great difficulty for the practice of human rights, because these presuppose the existence of free persons,” he warned.
According to local sources, more than 2.3 million people, mostly women and children, have fled the violence in Iraq.