Iraqi Christians fear for the future
Christians in Iraq have said that they are deeply fearful about their future once the war is over.
Making up an estimated 3% of the population of Iraq, they have said that when Saddam Hussein's government is ousted and a new leadership put into place, the new government may follow the model of many Muslim countries and outlaw all forms of non-Islamic worship.
The country's half-million or more Christians have been previously been allowed to worship freely under Saddamís regime and for generations have worked and lived relatively comfortably alongside Muslims. During the last Gulf there were stories of Muslim farmers giving Christianís shelter, when they had to flee their homes in the city.
Saddam also appointed Christians to senior-level positions in his government-- including his second in command, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz ñ and after the 1991 war offered government support to religious groups.
Churches ranging from Catholic and Protestant to Pentecostal and Orthodox received free water and electricity and assurances that they could worship freely.
But Christians also say that their churches might become the targets of bombing attacks by Muslims, as occurred in Pakistan after U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan. Even before the war started, a nun was beheaded in Baghdad, an attack thought to be perpetrated by Muslim extremists.
"You have some mullahs denouncing the Crusaders and the infidels from the minaret, meaning us Christians here," Bishop Shlemon Warduni of the Chaldean Church said recently from Baghdad. "The fanatics in Iraq are using it as an excuse to act against the Christians."