After years of Islamic State persecution, Father Nadheer Dako, of St Joseph’s Chaldean Catholic Church, in Baghdad, warns that Christians are being driven out of Iraq to live in places like Britain, Sweden or America, where life is less dangerous and the quality of life is better.
Indeed, his own church, which used to serve 5,000 families, now has just 150, with just 25 worshippers attending Mass on Sunday. At the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in Ealing, west London, where he recently spent six years, there were 350 families – over twice the number in his Baghdad parish.
With more Iraqi Christians now living outside Iraq, he fears for the future of Christianity in his country. is hard to say,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.
“Returning here from London after six years, I’ve noticed how the quality of education in Baghdad has gone down in nearly all the primary schools,” he says. “The new generation just has very little hope of making a life here anymore.”
“It is true that people are no longer getting kidnapped as much, and the Islamic State is gone,” said Nasib Hana Jabril, 42, a St Joseph’s parishioner. “But the infrastructure of the country has been ruined, and people want a better future, not so much for themselves but for their children.”
What is the West doing about this? Not much.
Boris Johnson’s government in the United Kingdom has pledged to stand up for Christians under persecution. But although some Christians have returned to Christian-majority towns like Qaraqosh, which was taken over by the Islamic State in 2014, they have received more help from Christian charities like Aid to the Church in Need.
Worldwide, Christianity is the most persecuted of religions — and the most neglected by Western governments.
In Communist China religious persecution is a matter of official policy. Notwithstanding, the UK Government has just announced a deal with the communications company Huawei to install a 5G network. The fact that both Christians and Muslims are being harassed and imprisoned counts for nothing.
The argument is that Huawei can provide the system more cheaply and that we must prioritise economic considerations over human rights.
Why are we so indifferent to the plight of Christians? The answer seems to be money. If you are persecuted and have no money, Western governments will ignore you. If you are persecuted and your tormenter has lots of money, Western government will embrace him and ignore you.
It’s an age-old story, but no less tragic for all that.
Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).