Christian students stage nonviolent protest in Iraq
In the face of continued violence against Christians with many being driven from the country, Christians have staged a nonviolent protest.
A Catholic priest in Mosul, Father Nizar Semaan, told the Fides news service that Christian students had gone on strike.
ìFaced with the situation of serious insecurity 1,500 Christian boys and girls, enrolled at Mosul university are calling for more protection from the authorities.
"The decision to strike was not easy because this is precisely what the terrorists want to make Iraq fall back into ignorance" he said.
"The students also call for solidarity from the international scientific community and scholars all over the world, and urge governments to help stop terrorist violence in Iraqî Father Nizar told Fides.
ìSince UN sanctions were imposed in 1991, guaranteeing young people the right to study has been a priority for Mosul dioceseî the priest said.
Iraq is home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, with an estimated 3% of the population identified as Christian. Under Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi church was protected from religious persecution. Since the invasion, churches have lived under constant fear with a number of attacks recorded against Christians and church buildings, with a number of murders.
Church aid agencies have also at time been forced to pull out of the country.
Talks between religious leaders have been unable to prevent the violence.
ìDespite limited economic resources the diocese has always helped students to go to university in the awareness that new better educated generations will build a better future for Iraq" Nizar continued.
"These efforts are being undermined by violence. The terrorists have threatened to blow up buses which the local Church sends to collect students in outlying villagesî.
ìAction must be taken quickly to avoid another humanitarian disaster. The students are confident that someone will help, but how long can they hope and wait?î.