Christianity is finished in northern Iraq, argues Daniel Williams in an op-ed in the Washington Post today. Williams is not writing for a church or a Christian advocacy outfit; rather he is a correspondent for the Post and a former research at Human Rights Watch. The decimation of the Christian community that began when Saddam Hussein fell in 2003 has now accelerated. The iciest part of his analysis: They are not going back.
Indeed, the exodus of Christians is ongoing. Has anyone noticed that the Christian population of Iraq has shrunk from more than 1 million in 2003 to maybe 300,000 today? Now, there are virtually no Christians left in either Mosul or on the plain.
So when I ask refugees their plans, it is unanimously to leave Iraq altogether. Enough is enough. This runs counter to the desire, expressed mostly outside Iraq, that a Christian presence be preserved in a land that has known Christianity for 2,000 years. It’s sad but true: Christianity in Iraq is finished. As one refugee told me, “We wanted Iraq. Iraq doesn’t want us.”
Western countries ought to come together and offer refuge to the tens of thousands who want to leave Iraq. Yes, this would mean the end of Christianity in this part of the world, where its presence has often served as a bulwark against fanaticism. But it’s over anyway, whatever happens to the Islamic State. It’s time to face that fact and save the Christians themselves.