The number of Christians in Iraq has more than halved since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003, according to UN figures. The amount is now down to around half a million.
In Baghdad Iraqi soldiers patrol the largest Christian neighbourhood. Over the past 9 years its estimated that over 900 Christians have been killed and 54 churches attacked, and sectarian tensions are heightened at Christmas.
Cardinal Emmanuel Delly, the patriarch of the Catholic Church in Iraq said: “I hope from the bottom of my heart that all Christians stay in this country, the country of our fathers and ancestors, and we encourage them to stay.”
Pascal Golnisch is the director of a Christian group in Iraq. He says, “in Iraq there are three main groupings, all the world know this. There are Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shi’ites, each with their own territory, local government and militia. The Christians, they have no local government, no territory and no militia.”
Now the Americans are no longer on the streets there are fears that attacks on Christians and their property could increase.