Iraq’s elected leader has formed a task force to monitor persecution of the embattled nation’s dwindling Christian population, a step hailed Wednesday by hopeful advocates a world away.
Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi appointed the committee as Christians face kidnapping, extortion and murder – even in Baghdad, where ISIS has no established presence. First reported by Christian Headlines.com, the news followed a call from a key Christian member of parliament for more protection of the faith’s practitioners. The non-governmental organization Bagdad Beituna (Baghdad Our Home) claims that 70 percent of Baghdad Christians’ homes have been seized illegally, and Christians in other parts of the country controlled by ISIS have been killed or driven out.
“A lot depends on who is on the committee, but it’s a very good step,” said former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Middle East Christian advocacy group 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.
Iraq’s Christian population is one of the oldest in the world, but it is vanishing in the face of Islamic extremism and corruption. In 2003, Iraq’s Christian population was estimated at 1.5 million, or roughly 6 percent of the country’s total population. By 2013, it was below 200,000 and experts believe it could be much smaller now. Henriette Kats, of the international Christian advocacy group Open Doors, said religious minorities such as Chaldean Christians and Yazidis, another religious minority in Iraq, are especially vulnerable as the nation battles ISIS.
Read More: Iraqi PM takes steps to combat Christian persecution | Fox News