US support seen as ëdisasterí for Christian minority in Iraq
Christians and ethnic minorities face the most strategic imminent danger from insurgents, according to analysts meeting in Washington DC this week.
Jihadist forces aim is to eliminate from Iraq those they see as the kufr (unbelievers) from Iraq, says Middle East expert Walid Phares.
The claim came as representatives of Iraq's largest Christian minority, the Chaldo-Assyrians, plus leaders from Iraq's smaller ethnic minorities and human rights groups met on Capitol Hill to seek special recognition and protection from militants.
James Rayis, vice-chair of the American Bar Association's International Law Section on the Middle East said that minority groups have faced ill-treatment throughout history, but the current attacks are because of perceived ties to the West.
He and other speakers however say they "strongly support Coalition efforts in working towards a democratic and free Iraq with fundamental human rights guaranteed for all Iraqi citizens." They believe that the Coalition should emphasize a free and secular government and allocate a proportionate share of reconstruction funds to the ChaldoAssyrian minority to ensure the future of Iraqís indigenous people, who are non-Muslims.
Iraq's non-Islamic minorities, which number over one million and include Chaldo-Assyrians, Mandaeans, Roma, and Yazidi have existed in the region several thousand years before the spread of Islam in CE 600.
The occupation of Iraq by US forces and the birth of the Iraqi insurgency have led to a particularly brutal rise in attacks, murders, kidnapping and the destruction of property directed against indigenous Christian minorities, says UPI and World Peace Herald.
Nearly 40,000 Chaldo-Assyrians have fled Iraq in the last few months, according to the US Coalition for Human Rights.
Church bombings in Assyrian neighbourhoods of Baghdad and Mosul in August and October 2004, mortar attacks, raids against Christian homes, and forced conversions have also contributed to the unease of a community that has increasingly felt itself under siege by militants.
At least one militant group, The Islamic Mujahideen, has demanded that all Mandaeans convert to Islam, leave the country, or be killed.
Samer Shehata of Georgetown University's Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies traces the current mistreatment of ethnic Christians to the rise over the last two decades of ëmilitant sectarianismí and ëIslamist politicsí as Western and oppositionist vehicles for criticizing Saddam Hussein's secular regime.
But he warns against the idea that minority groups should appeal specifically to the West.
ëThe US is the kiss of death anywhere in the Middle East. Obtaining help from the United States, even if your claim is legitimate, is the quickest way to discredit it', declared Shehata.