Iraqi Leaders Denounce Attacks on Christians

BAGHDAD, Iraq, JAN. 14, 2004 ( A number of Iraqi intellectuals and politicians have called upon Muslim religious leaders, Iraq’s Governing Council and the coalition authorities to prevent Shiite groups from attacking Christians.

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A call by more than 200 mainly Muslim intellectuals and political leaders to stop attacks on Christians and cease forcing women to wear the veil was published Jan. 4 on the Arabic Web site Elaph.

The news was reported, among others, by the Barnabas Fund, an organization that works to support Christian communities mainly in the Muslim world.

The intellectuals and political leaders specifically called upon Muslim religious leaders to issue fatwas forbidding such “atrocious crimes against humanity.”

The declaration said “horrific” crimes had been committed against women in forcing them to wear the veil, but worst of all was the “terrorizing of our Christian brothers,” intimidating them to become Muslims.

It noted that Christians had lived in Iraq for 2,000 years and had contributed greatly to the region’s civilization, both before and after the coming of Islam.

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