Continuing the 'I Told You So' files, three years ago Theosebes brought up the issue of Christian persecution in Iraq (see here and here). It seems the problem has not gone away:
An al-Qaida-affiliated insurgent group is giving Christians in Baghdad a stark set of options: Convert to Islam, marry your daughters to our fighters, pay an Islamic tax or leave with only the clothes on your back.
A U.S. military official said American forces became aware of the threats only last month and now have erected barriers around the largest Christian enclave in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood in an effort to protect its residents.
Christians in Baghdad refuse to discuss the threats for fear of retribution. But in Syria, where thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled, tales abound of families that were killed or driven from their homes because they either refused or couldn't afford to pay the jizya, a tax usually levied on non-Muslim men of military age that's been part of Islam for more than 1,000 years.
Of course, things weren't always this way in Iraq:
Iraq long had been home to thriving Christian communities, primarily Assyrians and Chaldean Catholics, who trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia. Some of Saddam Hussein's closest confidants were Christian, including his foreign minister, Tarik Aziz. Christian communities were prominent in many major Iraqi cities, including Mosul in the north and Basra in the south.
Baghdad had major Christian enclaves in the central neighborhood of Karada, the eastern mostly Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad and nearby al-Ghadir and the notorious Sunni-dominated Doura in the capital's south.
As Iraq has descended into chaos, however, many Christians have fled, joining an estimated 2.2 million exiles, including 1.4 million Iraqis now estimated to be living in Syria. At least 19,000 Iraqi Christians have registered in Damascus with the United Nations refugee agency, and thousands more are thought to have sought shelter there, but have yet to register.
A Christian Iraqi legislator estimated Tuesday that a half-million Christians have fled Iraq since 2004.
"What is happening today in Iraq against Christians is shameful," Ablahad Afram Sawa said in an impassioned statement read to Iraq's parliament by its speaker. He said Christians hadn't faced such oppression in nearly 2,000 years. "Most of the churches in Baghdad have closed their doors," he added.
Let us pray that the freedom to worship God as He intended through His Son will can flourish in Iraq.