Dozen Killed In Baghdad Clashes, Christians Concerned

Sunday, September 4, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: , ,

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

BAGHDAD (Worthy News) – A tense calm returned to Baghdad where in recent days at least a dozen people have been shot dead in Baghdad’s Green Zone amid religious and political tensions in , where minority Christians face persecution, several sources say.

Witnesses said hundreds of supporters of influential Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed Iraq’s presidential palace and other government buildings amid soaring tensions with rival Iran-backed Shi’ite groups.

The resulting clashes with security forces left at least 12 people dead, health officials said. Besides those killed, about 270 others were reportedly wounded in Monday’s violence. Gunshots and tear gas were fired across the Green Zone housing state and diplomatic buildings, reporters said.

The United States called the unrest in Baghdad “disturbing” and called on Iraqis to abstain from violence and seek dialogue to resolve a political dispute.

Last Monday’s clashes were likely to add to anxiety among Iraq’s estimated 166,000 Christians who have faced numerous attacks over the years.

“Iraq remains plagued by conflict, despite the recent territorial losses of the Islamic State group, and this continues to affect the country’s minority Christian population gravely,” said well-informed advocacy group Open Doors.

CHRISTIANS SUFFERING

Besides bombings, “many Christians are also seriously affected by intolerance and persecution. This is perpetuated mostly by militant Islamic groups and non-Christian leaders. They also face discrimination from government authorities,” the Christian charity added.

The latest Baghdad violence wasn’t directed against Christians but underscored religious tensions in the nation.

Protests have also erupted in the Shi’ite-majority south, with al-Sadr’s supporters burning tires and blocking roads in oil-rich Basra Province. Hundreds were protesting outside the government building in the Missan area near Iran.

Iraq’s government has been deadlocked since al-Sadr’s party won the largest share of seats in parliamentary elections last October but did not gain enough to secure a majority government.

His rejection of talks with Iran-backed Shi’ite rivals led to political uncertainty and intensifying intra-Shi’ite fighting.

The Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) called developments “an extremely dangerous escalation.” It also urged all sides to “refrain from acts that could lead to an unstoppable chain of events.”

“The very survival of the state is at stake,” it warned.

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