WCC Backs Call for Peace from Iraqi Christians

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has voiced its support for a call made by Iraqi church leaders to end violence against the nation's Christians, several of whom were killed in a recent bomb attack on a bus full of university students.

The Council of the Christian Church Leaders of Iraq (CCCLI) expressed "deep pain" at the May 2 attack, which killed one person and seriously injured over 170 others, adding that the attack was "especially painful since these students were defenseless."

"They are the hope for the future of Iraq, and as a group they have nothing to do with politics," the church leaders said in a May 6 statement.

In a response released Wednesday, WCC General Secretary the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit said, "As we express our solidarity with the people of Iraq, and convey our condolences to the families of the victims, we are very concerned about the new escalation of violence against Christians in Mosul."

"We urge all parties and members of the Iraqi administration to take up their responsibility in bringing security and stability to the country and insuring the safety of Iraqi citizens," he added.

Recent months have seen an upsurge in violence against Iraqi Christians, who have faced dwindling numbers due to constant persecution, much of it coming from Muslim extremists.

Nearly 2.5 million Iraqi Christians have fled the country since 2003 due to violence. Some observers estimate that the nation's Christian community, which traces its roots back to the religion's first century of existence, may be extinct within the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Christians are still awaiting election results for the five parliamentary seats that have been guaranteed for the minority group.

Juliana Taimoorazy, President of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, told International Christian Concern that Christian representation in parliament is a first step in establishing a democratic Iraqi state.

"The Chaldo-Assyrians, the indigenous people of Iraq, are a critical identity to the democratic process," Taimoorazy said. "They offer political and religious diversity, yet work to find commonalities between religious parties."

"Christianity in Iraq is also viewed as a bridge between the Islamic Middle East and the Christian West, a helpful medium to reconcile a history of differences," she added.

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