The recent massacre of 52 Christians in Iraq is not an isolated incident, it is simply the acceleration of the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and Sabian populations of the middle east that have occurred over the last century. These populations predate Arabs and Muslims by thousands of years. Even in nations like Lebanon, Egypt and Iran, were outright massacres are rare, general discrimination and harassment have led to a a sharp decline in the number of indigenous Christians. And now in towns like Malmo Sweden, the large influx of Muslim immigrants has created an environment of fear that has led to the exodus of its well established Jewish population. Clearly Islamic culture does not lend itself towards a respect for diversity and democracy. To prejudge or discriminate against individual Muslims is racist and intolerable, however to express reservations about Arab-Islamic culture demonstrates that one is well informed and intellectually honest. If you believe that my sentiments are racist, talk a few minutes to speak with an Assyrian Christian from Iraq and ask them what they think.
At least 52 dead in Iraq church siege
by Aaron J Leichman
November 1, 2010
The coffin of a victim is carried past Our Lady of Deliverance church the morning after its congregation was taken hostage in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday Nov. 1, 2010. AP
The death toll from Sunday’s church hostage crisis in Iraq shot up to 52 on Monday while the number of people wounded rose to 67.
Deputy Interior Minister Lt General Hussein Kamal reported the latest figures, which nearly doubled initial figures, on Monday, saying that the toll only included hostages and police officers, not the militants behind siege of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.
Initial reports put the number of gunmen at around a dozen – at least five of which were killed along with the others when some of the explosives they were carrying went off.
The explosion occurred as security officers stormed the church around 9pm to bring to an end the roughly four-hour standoff.
The ten or so militants had stormed the church around 5pm. wearing suicide vests after attacking the Baghdad Stock Market in the central part of the Iraqi capital earlier in the day.
In total about 120 churchgoers were taken hostage by the al Qaida-linked terrorists as they were holding service Sunday.
Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obeidi said "the terrorists were planning to murder the highest number of hostages".
"All the marks point out that this incident carries the fingerprints of al Qaeda," he added Sunday on state television.
Since the attack, Islamic State of Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attack through a statement posted on a radical Islamic website. It also said it would "exterminate Iraqi Christians" if Muslim women are not freed within 48 hours from ministries and churches run by the Christian Coptic church in Egypt.
Across Iraq, security forces were alerted to new threats against Christians.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, meanwhile, said France “firmly” condemned the "terrorist action", which he noted as the latest in a deadly campaign of targeted violence which has already led to more than 40 deaths among the Christians of Iraq this year.
"France repeats its attachment to the respect of fundamental liberties such as religious freedom and supports the Iraqi authorities in their struggle against terrorism," Kouchner added.
In Iraq, ongoing persecution and violence has forced hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee the country. The UN High Commission for Refugees estimated last year that since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, up to 500,000 Christians had left the country. That translates to about half the Christian population leaving within the short time span of six years.
Sunni Muslim insurgents have frequently targeted members of Iraq's Christian minority, especially in Mosul, which is home to a large Christian community. Some extremist Sunnis consider Christians to be supporters of the Shiite-led government they oppose.