There are just 57 Christian churches in the entire country, down from more than 300 as recently as 2003, Patriarch Louis Sako told Egyptian-based news agency MidEast Christian News. The churches that remain are frequent targets of Islamic extremists, who have driven nearly a million Christians out of the land, say human rights advocates.
“The last 10 years have been the worst for Iraqi Christians because they bore witness to the biggest exodus and migration in the history of Iraq,” William Warda, the head of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization told the news agency.
Many Christians live in the provinces of Baghdad, Nineveh, and Kirkuk, and Dohuk and Erbil, which are both in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Warda said some 1.4 million Christians lived in Iraq prior to Hussein’s ouster. Under the democratically-elected government that now oversees the war-torn, but oil-rich nation, Islamic extremists have been able to operate more freely.
“More than two-thirds [of Christians] have emigrated,” Warda noted.
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