Were Christians Better off Under Saddam?

In recent weeks the media have reported on the protests in Baghdad that have taken place against the Iraqi government. Sadly, hundreds have been shot dead by security forces and thousands of people have reportedly been injured.

Why are the protesters risking life and limb? Like many ordinary people in the world, they want a better life, a more aspirational and secure life. They also want their government to keep their word and for the population to attain a better life.

Iraq is a majority Muslim country with Sunni Muslims heading up the government, formerly under Saddam. Since Saddam’s overthrow, Shia Muslims now rule in government, often ad hoc to Iran.

However, Iraq always has had a Christian presence with different denominations. Before the 2003 US/UK invasion, Christian Concern estimated the Christian population was about 1.5 million.

Today, again according to the Regional Director of the Middle East for Christian Concern, there are now 250,000 Christians. Why has the Christian population fallen? Many have fled because of Muslim anger, towards them over the US invasion. The actions of the Iraqi government along with the subsequent occupation of their country by the UK and US has not helped. Life in Iraq has gone down exponentially for Christians, since ironically the overthrow of Saddam. The actions of ISIS against Christians resulted in many Christians fleeing their country.

Those Christians who remain in Iraq have been stoic and pray for a better tomorrow both for their community and their country.

In the protests, uniquely perhaps, Muslims and Christians have come together, risking all for a better Iraq. It seems to them that the common enemy of the Iraqi people, regardless of faith differences, is the government. This has united the communities together in one common cause.

So far, despite the carnage inflicted on the protesters, one Prime Minister has stepped down, with another being appointed (supposedly to address the needs of the protesters).

Fresh elections may happen if the government falls, with God willing, a more caring administration. Iraqis again, regardless of their faith, want freedom for their country and are fed up with being a political football between the Americans and Iranians.

In theory, Iraq is a free nation, but in practice and pulling the strings in the background, are the Americans and the Iranians.

So what can we do as Christians? We can be part of Christian Concern and other charities doing valuable work in Iraq. We can highlight the plight of Christian Iraqis in our churches, lobby our MPs and lastly but not leastly, pray.

Let us pray that God will bring peace and reconciliation for Iraqi Christians and many others.

God bless you xxx.

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