Posted by andreas from p3EE3C5B3.dip.t-dialin.net (220.127.116.11) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 at 4:10AM :
"Assyrians practice human sacrifices- of fellow Assyrians - as peace appeal of their brothers goes unheard."
"All in the name of their idolized national collectivity, the god 'Ashur' and his divine female consort 'oomtaneta'"
Iraq's Christians appeal for peace
By Bassem Mroue
Web Posted : 11/23/2002 12:00 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Worried about a possible U.S. military attack on their country, hundreds of Iraqi Christians fasted Friday and prayed for peace.
Their efforts come days before U.N. inspectors are to resume their search for banned weapons for the first time in four years.
Faithful of all ages attended special services Friday called by leaders of Iraq's Christian churches.
Nearly 1.1 million people, or about 5 percent of the country's population of 22 million, are Christians. The vast majority of the population is Shiite or Sunni Muslim.
At the Notre Dame de la Deliverance church in Baghdad's well-to-do Karradah neighborhood, some 500 Assyrian Catholics chanted, "Forgive us and give us peace." Many lighted candles in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary as they headed into Mass.
President Bush has warned that Iraq will face military action if it does not cooperate with inspectors searching for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The first contingent of 18 inspectors arrives Monday, and they are expected to resume their work Wednesday.
Iraq has been under U.N. economic sanctions since 1990, when it invaded neighboring Kuwait and provoked the Gulf War. U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted after the invasion demanded that Iraq give up its weapons of mass destruction, and the demand was renewed in a resolution passed last week.
In his homily Friday, Father Rafael Qoteimi said, "We are praying for our Iraq that has been suffering for years from war, and until this day we are threatened by war."
"We call upon world leaders to work for peace. ... and let people live in peace and security," he said. "We raise our hands so that war stays away from us and peace prevails."
Margaret Saadallah, a housewife dressed in black, said the Iraqis are a people who want to live in peace. "We have tried war, and it was horrifying. I hope there won't be another war," she said.
Christians do not play a major role in President Saddam Hussein's government; the highest-ranking Christian is Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
Though Shiite Muslims are Iraq's majority sect, the government is dominated by Sunnis.
Several of the worshippers at Notre Dame noted that most Americans are Christians and pleaded for their help in preventing war.
"We ask those American Christians to make their government help the Iraqi people. We want the help of all Christians after all this suffering," said Fadi Victor, a 24-year-old businessman.
Salam Dawoud, a 14-year-old student, addressed his plea to a higher power.
"I am very much afraid of war," he said, "and I ask the Lord and Jesus in this day to prevent a war."
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