In Baghdad, Muslims Go Ahead and Hate Their Christian Neighbors

If there’s a hell, the Muslims who slaughtered their Christian brothers and sisters in Baghdad over the past ten days have certainly raised their odds of going there.

The following was buried in a much longer story at the New York Times yesterday. The story was given the innocuous title, “Tentative Deal in Iraq Keeps Maliki in Power”. The following portion of the story was toward the very bottom of it:

On Wednesday, a series of bombs exploded outside the homes of Christian families across Baghdad, the first such coordinated attack on Christian homes in the capital, and 10 days after a siege on a church that left 58 people dead. At least one of the houses attacked Wednesday was bearing a banner mourning the death of a family member in the church siege. “That’s how they knew about us,” said Kareem Butras, a disabled veteran whose brother-in-law was killed in the siege on Oct. 31 at Our Lady of Salvation, a Syrian Catholic church. “Other families we know received threats, but not us.” Iraq’s fragile Christian minority has been diminishing since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The new attacks have persuaded yet more Christians to leave the country as soon as possible. “We don’t know who is the enemy, when he’s coming, morning or night,” said Sami Bahnam, 40, who watched a bomb explode outside his home on Wednesday morning. “We don’t want to reach a point where a child dies and we say, ‘Why didn’t we leave the country sooner?’ ”

Is this not infuriating? George Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 has come to this?  And Andrew Sullivan recalls the surge advocacy rhetoric that was being laid-on heavy in the latter years of the Bush presidency:

Remember that we were asked to judge the success of the Iraq surge by the criterion that it succeed in turning a lull in sectarian violence into a democratic multi-sectarian democracy where sectarian cleansing did not take place.

Sullivan then concludes wryly:

The Christians have been sent a message about the future Iraq. They are not in it.

Here’s more detail from the same New York Times article. It constitutes the dead rock bottom of the New York Times report, almost functioning as an afterthought:

At least four people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the attacks, which involved about 14 bombs and two mortar shells, according to the Ministry of the Interior. At least one of the dead was a Muslim who was killed by a secondary bomb as he ran to offer help. The Rev. Mayassr al-Qaspotros, whose cousin was one of two priests killed at Our Lady of Salvation, criticized top Sunni clerics for not denouncing the assault. Some Shiite leaders, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, have done so. A Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the church assault and promised more bitter attacks to come.

Did you catch that? Top Sunni clerics in Iraq did not denounce the assault. I want to hear from American Muslims, particularly Sunnis (which constitute the vast majority of Muslims). Where is the outrage, discussion, and soul-searching about what this means for Islam broadly? Is this happening?


How can we ever have a peaceful world—a world where dialogue and human solidarity are foregrounded—when religious cleansing is not even commented upon by those in positions of religious authority—and that within the very country in which it is occurring?  What kind of “religion of peace” is being practiced in Iraq, and who are these repugnant silent clerics at the head of it?

And Shiites are not off the hook here; they ought to be talking about this as well. Why have only some Shiite leaders in Iraq managed to speak out against this? Obviously, their silence is also consent.

The following song first appeared in the early 1970s film, Billy Jack. It seems apt:

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to In Baghdad, Muslims Go Ahead and Hate Their Christian Neighbors

  1. Yeah. Somehow I want to hold the practice of dialogue with different believers (and un-believers) together with the ability to call people out when they do horrendous stuff. Not easy.

    At the risk of self-promotion, this was my reaction

    (my following piece is about hope. I try to have some)

    Jonathan from Spritzophrenia

  2. concerned christian says:

    Thank you for reporting and condemning these brutal acts perpetuated by Muslim fanatics. It’s important to realize that for many hard line Muslims the lives of infidels have no value. The West is faced with the challenge of taking a courageous position and confronting these cowardly acts that became an almost a daily event in many Muslim countries. I fully support the position of Pope Benedict who advocated that in dealing with Muslims we should demand reciprocity. Thus non-Muslims should be treated in Muslim countries the same way Muslims are treated in the West. So far many Muslim dominated countries deal with non-Muslims according to Islamic Sharia, where non-Muslims are treated as second class citizens, while they demand that Western countries deal with Muslims according to Western rules where all are treated equally. Until our leaders have the insight and courage to follow Pope Benedict’s position, these tragedies will unfortunately continue to happen.

  3. santitafarella says:


    I agree with you that if Islam is to be regarded as a religion of peace and tolerance that wherever Muslim majorities control the politics of a country, that country should respect and protect the full human rights, speech, and dignity of non-Muslims.

    I truly believe that the future of Islam globally has to lie with American Muslims. It is American Muslims over the next generation who will write the books and make the case for a peaceful and tolerant Islam. They will model the possibilities for an Islam consistent with diversity. And hopefully the memes generated by Muslim Americans will make for the norm. 21st century Islam is faced with two paths, and it is at a crossroads. We all wait to see how it evolves from here.


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