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Iraq: Christians Martyred

Three Christians have been killed in Mosul recently, and community leaders warn that violence will increase leading to the March 7 parliamentary election, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

On Feb. 16, unidentified gunmen shot two Christian students with an automatic weapon. Police told AFP that Zia Toma, a 21-year-old engineering student, was killed in the shooting and Ramsin Shmael, a 22-year-old pharmacy student, was wounded. Both men were Assyrian Christians, according to police.

The violence is thought to be related to the upcoming parliamentary election, in which the vote of minority Christians could be a factor between Arab-Kurd rivals. “We don’t want elections, we don’t want representatives, we don’t want our rights, we just want to be alive,” said Baasil Abdul Noor, a priest at Mar Behnam church in Al-Arabi neighborhood, where the shooting occurred. The student’s murder occurred one day after gunmen killed shop owner Fatukhi Munir, an Assyrian Catholic, in his business. On Feb. 14, another shop owner, Rayan Salem Elias, was shot to death outside his home; Elias was a Chaldean Christian.

These incidents are the latest in a series of attacks on Iraqi Christians in recent months. The Christian community in Iraq is estimated to be 3 percent of Iraq’s population of 26 million, or about 780,000 people. Islamic extremists have targeted Christian leaders, churches and businesses in Iraq since 2003. As a result, many believers have fled.

The Voice of the Martyrs actively supports Christians in Iraq with Action Packs, resources for Christian leaders and evangelistic literature. VOM also distributes the New Testament in Arabic and supports widows through the Families of Martyrs fund in Iraq.

VOM encourages you to pray for those who mourn these murdered believers. Pray that the killers might come to know Christ as their savior. Ask God to embolden the Christian community in Mosul to proclaim the gospel even while being persecuted, and pray that they will be filled with Christ’s peace during these difficult times.

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