Iraqi Christians targets of violence.

By June 27, 2007

Iraq
(MNN) — Christian university students and faculty kidnapped last week on their
way home from exams at Mosul
University have been
released.

Local sources said that family members retrieved the freed
Christians (six students, two university teachers) from an undisclosed location
in Mosul city
after a representative of all eight families had paid a ransom for their
release.

Open Doors' Jerry Dykstra says they're grateful, but:
"It just highlights the tremendous difficulties for Iraq's religious minorities who
suffer not only random violence, but they're also picked out because they're
Christians and also kidnapped for their money", because Christianity is
associated with a wealthy Western society. 

Syrian church leaders have organized a volunteer-based village
guard of approximately 1,200 men who patrol Qaraqosh's (near Mosul) perimeter around the clock.  Other security measures have been stepped up
as well in an effort to stave off the assaults and kidnappings.

As the violence has been increasing, it's become more
evident there's only a remnant church remaining.  "About 50-thousand Iraqis are fleeing
the country a month. The estimate is that 44-percent of all of them are
Christians."  Christians made up
roughly three-percent of the country's population prior to the U-S invasion of Iraq.

Since then, sources tell Open Doors, that number has dropped
as hundreds of thousands have fled Iraq
to Jordan and Syria due to
the deteriorating security situation in which Christians and other minorities
are often specifically targeted.

Dykstra says this story ended well, but not all of them
do.  He urges prayer. "Behind the
scenes there are also many Christians that are also suffering, and their story
is not being told. We need to keep up our prayers for them and be informed on
what's happening."

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