Elderly Christian Couple Killed in Baghdad

Slayings of Religious Minority Continue

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ROME, DEC. 6, 2010 (Zenit.org).- An elderly Christian couple was killed in their home Sunday night in Baghdad, the latest in a string of attacks against Christians that grew particularly severe with the Oct. 31 bombing of a church that left 58 dead.

Hikmat Sammak and his wife, Samira, were stabbed to death in their Baladiyat neighborhood, a predominantly Shiite area, AsiaNews reported.

The agency informed that the couple had sold their house and gone to live in Ainkawa-Erbil in the north. They had returned to Baghdad days ago to finalize the transaction and sell their furniture.

Their deaths came on the same day that Benedict XVI made an appeal for those who are suffering from violence and discrimination.

After praying the midday Angelus on Sunday, he invited the faithful to «pray for all the situations of violence, of intolerance, of suffering that there are in the world, so that the coming of Jesus brings consolation, reconciliation and peace.»  The Pontiff specified, «I think of the many difficult situations such as the continuing attacks in Iraq against Christians and Muslims, of the conflicts in Egypt in which there have been deaths and injuries, of the victims of traffickers and criminals such as the drama of the Eritrean hostages and the hostages of other nationalities in the desert of Sinai.»

Getting out

The latest slaying in Baghdad is one more event in an environment of insecurity that has motivated even more Christians to leave their homes for the north of the country, according to AsiaNews.

Citing estimates from the newspaper Azzaman, the agency informed that 500 families are moving into the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. «In Sulaimaniyah alone, at least 85 families arrived within two weeks,» AsiaNews reported. «The displaced people leave behind them homes, possessions and their work, as well as parishes and monasteries, among the oldest in Christendom.»

Authorities have reportedly promised fleeing Christians a stipend of $400 U.S. dollars, a gesture seen as wholly insufficient since it would not cover even a month’s rent in the North.

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