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Entries for October 2009

Iraqi Police Unable or Unwilling to Stop Christian Attacks
By Amer Hedow :: 128436 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Baghdad, IRAQ — Iraqi Chaldeans site that the Najaf local government are playing politics with their lives and livelihood.  “They are telling the people of Najaf that we are not worthy to live in the city, just to win votes,” says Dawood Abdel, a well known Chaldean political commentator in Iraq. 

Local Iraqi authorities have outlawed alcohol in the province of Najaf, home to the holiest Shiite city, saying it contradicts the principles of Islam.  The decision to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol highlights efforts by religious parties to win support with Shiite voters before crucial parliamentary elections this January are causing an alarming spike in attacks against Iraqi Christians.

Alcohol consumption is forbidden under Islam, and liquor stores have often been targeted by both Sunni and Shiite extremists in Iraq.  The stores are widely owned and operated by Iraqi Christians, and the move by the Najaf provincial council is seen as credible proof of the fears among the Christian minority and secular Muslims that religious extremism is growing in the country.

The Najaf provincial council's decision followed a similar measure taken in August by authorities in the southern port city of Basra.  Shortly after the measure in Basra, Christians were targeted and forced to leave the city. 

Khalid al-Jashaami, a Najaf provincial council member says, "In order to protect the holiness of the holy city of Najaf, the provincial council of Najaf decided unanimously to ban the selling and transit of all kinds of alcohol." Al-Jashaami adds that violators will face trial. 

The continual intimidation of Christians grow as Muslim extremist move into government roles, changing laws and justifying the seizure of Christian property.  “They do this slowly and try to hide what they are doing.  They attack any printing house that writes about the laws being written.  They have burned the warehouses and kidnapped the family members.  The police do nothing, but say we are investigating,” says Abdel.

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