Wednesday 13 December 2017

'Vicar of Baghdad' warns of Christian genocide

An Isil fighter waves a flag on a street in the city of Mosul, Iraq. Photo: Reuters
An Isil fighter waves a flag on a street in the city of Mosul, Iraq. Photo: Reuters

Sarah MacDonald in Dublin

Isil militants' ongoing campaign against Christians in parts of Iraq and Syria constitutes a "genocide", according to the former 'Vicar of Baghdad' as he appealed to Western governments to do more to help this persecuted minority.

Canon Andrew White met political representatives in Dublin yesterday to outline his concerns over the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and to appeal to the Irish Government to include persecuted Christians among the refugees they take in from Syria and Iraq.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, the Church of England vicar - who was forced out of his Baghdad parish, St George's, in November 2014 as Isil militants edged closer to the Iraqi capital - said "Christians are the forgotten minority."

"We had this terrible onslaught of Islamic jihadism. I lost 1,760 members of my congregation."

Some of these were decapitated by the militants for refusing to renounce their faith, including one family of five young children. He warned that Iraq and Syria are being ethnically cleansed of their Christian communities.

Christians who have escaped Isil are ending up in refugee camps in neighbouring countries like Jordan "living in tents in terrible conditions" with no provision for schooling and a lack of essential amenities.

Up to two years ago, Ninevah "was all Christian; now there isn't one Christian left. They were massacred and their businesses were destroyed," the vicar said.

In 2014, Canon White's efforts to continue to minister to the beleaguered parish of St George's just outside Baghdad's Green Zone, and the dwindling Christian community of Iraq, was documented as a three -part television series, 'The Vicar Of Baghdad'.

The vicar, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, continues to secretly travel into Iraq and was there recently but declined to give further details for security concerns. The 52-year-old described the situation as "horrendous".

Irish Independent

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