Monday, August 02, 2004

Christians Targeted in Iraq

According to the AP:

Assailants triggered a coordinated series of explosions outside five churches in Baghdad and Mosul during Sunday evening services, killing 11 people and wounding more than 50 in the first major assault on Iraq's Christian minority since the 15-month-old insurgency began.


The unprecedented attacks against Iraq's 750,000-member Christian minority seemed to confirm community members' fears they might be targeted as suspected collaborators with American forces amid a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism.


This (attack) isn't against Muslims or Christians, this is against Iraq," Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abawi told The Associated Press.


Muslim clerics condemned the violence and offered condolences to the Christian community.

"This is a cowardly act and targets all Iraqis," Abdul Hadi al-Daraji, spokesman for radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, told Al-Jazeera television.

Mohammed Fadil al-Samara'i, an official with the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, blamed terrorist groups and others "who profit from creating civil disturbances in Iraq."

The attacks on the churches signaled a vast change in tactics for insurgents, who have focused many previous attacks on U.S. forces, Iraqi officials and police in a drive to push coalition forces from the country, weaken the interim government and hamper reconstruction efforts.

To escape the chaos here, many of Iraq's Christians have gone to neighboring Jordan and Syria to wait for the security situation to improve.

Many who remained watched with fear as Islamic fundamentalism, long repressed under Saddam Hussein's fallen regime, thrived. Islamic radicals have warned Christians running liquor stores to shut down their businesses and have turned their sights on fashion stores and beauty salons.

I'm sure Belmont Club will have a more detailed analysis eventually, but the broad strategy seems obvious enough at first blush. Picking on Iraqi Christians is a fairly safe tactic because it allows the terrorists to demonstrate their valor to their friends without actually putting themselves in much danger. It also has the advantage of not antagonizing the majority population, which is a major error the terrorists have been making in the last few months. And, of course, as with any minority population, there will be a certain number of people who, though not otherwise sympathetic to the terrorists, will applaud such attacks from normal human bigotry.

There aren't a substantial number of Jews in Iraq, but if there are any Jewish communities left intact, look for them to be targeted as well.

UPDATE: Jane at Armies of Liberation makes a point that I had noticed as well but forgot to mention: "The more Zarqawi tries to turn the Iraqis against each other, the more they turn against him."

Yes, the response from the Iraqis (including a representative of al-Sadr) is rather encouraging.

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