Last Updated: Tue Apr 05, 2011 17:53 pm (KSA) 14:53 pm (GMT)

Iraqi Christians demand an autonomous region

Iraqi Christians population is around 400,000 to 600,000, down from a 2003 prewar level of 1.4 million
Iraqi Christians population is around 400,000 to 600,000, down from a 2003 prewar level of 1.4 million

Iraqi member of parliaments representing Christians demand to form an autonomous area in the country’s northern province of Mosul, al-Sumaria Iraqi Satellite TV Network reported Tuesday.

Iraqi lawmakers welcomed their demands, and said that an autonomous Christian region should be based upon “new administrative grounds that could be supported by external parties hosting Christian refugees,” al-Sumaria TV's website said.

Iraqi MPs representing their Christians constituency see their demand as reasonable after the continuous marginalization of their community who were caught between Shiite-Sunni cross-fire ever since the U.S. 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Yazidis object

Other minorities’ representatives mainly by the Yazidis rejected their demands, saying that the Christian component is a minority in these regions and therefore not eligible to form an autonomous presence.

Yazidis are Kurdish-speaking people whose religion trace back to the ancient Indo-Iranian roots with a mixture from the Islamic Sufi doctrine.

Violence against Christians reached its zenith on October 31, 2010, when al-Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgent group, Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility of an attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic cathedral of Baghdad. The attack left at least 58 people dead, after more than 100 had been taken hostage.

Since the church attack, some 1,000 families have fled to the north of Iraq, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said, and more Christians started fleeing abroad.

Christian Iraqis constitute more than a third of their 53,700 country nationals resettled in the United States since 2007, according to State Department statistics.

Estimate round up the Christian to be 400,000 to 600,000 in Iraq’s 29 million population, down from a prewar level which was as high as 1.4 million by some estimates.

Observers fear that minorities’ call to preserve their rights could escalate into new rows in Iraq.

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