Two Christians Murdered, Others Harrassed
Long Feared Anti-Christian Violence Begins?

As Shia Muslims become more aggressive and vocal in their demands for an Islamic 
State based on Shari’ah the anti-Christian violence which Christians in Iraq 
have long feared seems finally to have arrived with the brutal murder of two 
Christian men.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports the deaths of Sabah Gazala and Abdul Ahed who 
were shot and killed by two Islamic gunmen within ten minutes in separate 
incidents in Basra on 8 May.  Like a number of Christians in the city and in 
other parts of Iraq they were involved in the sale of alcohol, jobs forbidden to 
Muslims but permitted to Christians under Saddam Hussein’s rule.  In recent 
weeks such vendors have faced severe threats from Shia Muslim conservatives 
seeking to impose defacto Islamic law (which bans alcohol completely) in Iraq in 
the chaotic wake of the victory of coalition forces in the country.  Many 
Christian shop owners have been forced to close, others to defend their premises 
with metal bars across the windows.

In Basra, Baghdad and across Iraq some Christians are beginning to suffer 
harassment, threats, intimidation and even violence at the hands of conservative 
Shia Muslims who want to impose Shari’ah law on both Muslim and non-Muslim 
alike.  On Friday 2 May Moqtada Sadr, one of the main Shia leaders in the 
country openly declared in a sermon in Kufa that “The banning of alcohol; and 
the wearing of the veil should be spread to all and not only to Muslims.”

Last week in Basra the Los Angeles Times reports that Shereen Musa, a Christian 
woman, was pelted with vegetables to chants of “Shame! Shame!” as she walked 
with her mother through a market, simply because her head was not covered in 
accordance with the Shari’ah.  “Everyone was laughing at me, and I was crying,” 
Shereen said, “When I had to walk back through the same place someone saw a 
cross on my neck and said: ‘Oh, you’re a Christian.  You’ll suffer a terrible 
fate.’”  Some Christian families like Shereen’s have now begun to leave Basra to 
return to the traditional Christian heartland around Mosul.

In Baghdad Christians are “terrified” and “hesitating to come to church” as 
services at one Chaldean church in the city are drowned out by Islamic prayers 
and teaching broadcast by loudspeaker from a new mosque across the street.  
Elsewhere, shopkeepers selling western-style magazines with advertisements 
containing pictures of women considered unacceptable by many Shia Muslims have 
also been threatened and intimidated.  

Christians are fearful for their future in an Iraq which seems to be slipping 
into the hands of Muslim extremists who want an Islamic state under Shari’ah.  
Both the Vatican and the US Committee for International Religious Freedom have 
issued statements expressing their concern that religious liberty should be 
guaranteed for all in the future Iraq.  Iraqi Church leaders from all the major 
denominations have similarly issued a joint statement asking that the new Iraqi 
constitution “recognise our religious, cultural, social and political rights … 
consider Christians as Iraqi citizens with full rights” and “guarantee the right 
to profess our faith according to our ancient traditions” a clear indication of 
their concern.  Said one Christian man in Baghdad “It is going to be like Iran … 
all Christians are afraid now.”


Barnabas Fund is encouraging its supporters, Christians, Muslims and all people 
of good will to lobby the American and British governments (as the two main 
representatives of the coalition in Iraq).

Please write, fax or e-mail urgently drawing attention to the fact that 
Christians are beginning to face violence and discrimination at the hands of 
conservative Muslims in the new Iraq and strongly calling on the coalition to …

1.  Take every possible measure to protect the Christian minority in Iraq and 
    prevent them from becoming the victims of Islamic extremist violence.
2.  Take urgent action to prevent the defacto enforcement of Islamic law by 
    extremists in Basra, Baghdad or any other part of the country.
3.  Ensure that the future Iraqi state, government and constitution is 
    democratic and represents all groups in the country (Sunni, Shia, Kurd, 
    Assyrian Christian, Turkomen and others).
4.  Ensure that all groups are represented in the discussions concerning a 
    future Iraq (including smaller groups such as Assyrian Christians and 
    Turkomen) and that discussions are not simply dominated by the big three 
    (Sunnis, Shias and Kurds).
5.  Ensure that religious liberty is preserved in the country and that (although 
    Muslims may be free to follow Shari’ah teachings as a matter of personal 
    faith) Shari’ah will not be imposed on either Muslims or non-Muslims as part 
    of the law.
6.  Ensure a swift, but stable, transition of power to a new Iraqi government 
    which should be democratic, accountable, representative and in full control 
    of the country’s resources.

Remember to be polite but clear in what you are asking.  Request that your 
concerns be registered.  Ask for a reply stating what steps are being taken to 
(1) safeguard the rights and freedoms of Christians in Iraq, (2) ensure that 
they have a fair say in the planning the future of their country, and (3) 
guarantee that their rights and freedoms will not be eroded in the new Iraq.

Please write to the American President and the British Prime Minister at:

President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Fax: 00 1 202 456 2461

Salutation: Dear Mr President, 

The Rt Hon Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street

No fax or e-mail available

Salutation: Dear Prime Minister,

British supporters can also lobby the British government through their MPs and 
contact the American President via the US Embassy:

President George Bush
C/o The American Embassy
24 Grosvenor Square

No fax or e-mail available 

(Name) MP
House of Commons
SW1A 0AA  

If you are not sure who your MP is you can find out by phoning the House of 
Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272.

Many MPs can also be contacted by e-mail, for a list of addresses please 


Since the beginning of 1999, Barnabas Fund has been helping with monthly food 
parcels for the poorest Christian families in Iraq.  This project is run by 72 
churches in the country who organise the purchase and distribution of food to 
the neediest among their communities.  A typical recipient might be a widow with 
four children and an elderly grandparent.  The average food parcel costs 15 and 
includes staple dry foods, cooking oil, soap and other necessities.  The project 
was helping an average 2,000 families per month in 2002.  The current 
dislocation and chaos in Iraq means that the needs are even greater now.  
Barnabas Fund’s Iraqi Appeal is seeking 2,000 sponsors who are prepared to 
pledge 15 per month to help an Iraqi family.  It also welcomes one-off gifts to 
provide for the current surge in needs for food, medical supplies and other 

Further information concerning the Iraq Appeal can be found on Barnabas Fund’s 


Pray for protection for Christians and moderate Muslims across Iraq, that they 
will be free to practise their faith and live their lives without having 
Shari’ah teachings illegally imposed upon them by conservatives.

Pray for an end to looting, lawlessness, banditry and disorder in Iraq.

Pray for wisdom and guidance for the American and British governments and the 
Office for Reconstruction and Aid.  Ask that that their decisions will be guided 
by compassion, mercy and justice as well as being practical and workable.

Pray for the future Iraq, that a free and just country will emerge, where both 
Christians and Muslims are free to worship without fear, restriction or 


News Briefs and Reports from Barnabas Fund concerning the Christian community in 
Iraq over the past two months are available on the Fund’s website:

A fuller briefing for Church and group leaders (produced immediately prior to 
the recent conflict) is also available:

Together with a Power Point presentation:

13 May 2003

The Barnabas Fund’s e-mail news service provides our supporters 
with short urgent news briefs and prayer requests for suffering 
Christians around the world.  

Please do share these news items with your Christian friends and 
churches.  All news items are available on our website in a more 
colourful user-friendly presentation format which you can access, 
print and pass on.  

If you are not already receiving these news briefs directly from 
the Barnabas Fund and would like to, please contact us with your 
name, postal and e-mail addresses, and details of the church you 

The Barnabas Fund, The Old Rectory, River Street, PEWSEY, 
Wiltshire, SN9 5DB, UK, Tel 01672 564938, Fax 01672 565030, 
E-mail  Web

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