By Sam EYOBOKA
PEEVED by the continued massacre of Christians in Iraq, the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has appealed to the United Nations, UN, to intervene and save the lives of the Christian hostages in interest of world peace.
Speaking in an interview, the National President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor also appealed to the Muslim fundamen-talists in that country to take advantage of the Muslim feast of Eid el Kabir to ensure that lasting peace reigns in that region.
Pastor Oritsejafor who played host to the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye in his Warri base, con-demned the capture and the systematic annihilation of Christians and their leaders in an alleged retaliation for some women being held by certain Christians in Egypt.
According to the CAN president, current unwarranted sectarian violence in the Iraq targeted at innocent Christians is absolutely unacceptable because “it is barbaric, inhuman, and cannot be described as a Godly act,” urging the UN to act fast to save a very ugly situation from degenerating to major crises in other parts of the world.
The CAN president, who despatched a congratu-latory message to the Nigerian Muslim Comm-unity for the successful flag off of this year’s Hajj to Mecca, hoped that the pilgrims would use the occasion to pray for the peaceful co-existence among the peoples of the world irrespective of creed and race.
Wishing the Muslims happy Sallah celebration, he charged adherents of Islam to con-tinue to im-bibe the teachings of Prophet Mohammed and live up to the tenets of their faith through acts of charity, peaceful co-existence with their neighbours, obedience to the injunctions of the Holy Qu’oran and sacrifice as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim whose spirit of obedience was demonstra-ted through his submiss-ion to the will of Allah even in very difficult circum-stances.
Recent reports claimed that another bomb attack in northern Iraq killed a Christian man and his 6-year old daughter, the latest in a series of strikes targeting the coun-try’s dwind-ling Christ-ian popula-tion. The in-cident occurred in Mosul, a multi-ethnic city in Nine-veh prov-ince-long the home of significant Christian enclaves.
A flurry of attacks in the north over the last 24 hours is a sign that the recent sectarian violence targeting Christians is spreading from Baghdad. The man and his daughter were killed Tuesday afternoon when an explosive attached to a vehicle detonated, local police said.
Monday night, attackers went into two homes occupied by Christian families in the Tahrir neighborhood in the eastern part of the city, killed the two male heads of the households, and then drove off, the interior ministry official said.
It will also be recalled that at least 37 Christians including two priests were killed two weeks ago in a Baghdad cathedral and many more since then in an attempt to free dozens of hostages held by Al-Qaeda gunmen. While an agency reporter claimed that the attack was lead by three American soldiers in assault gear, Sameer al-Shuaili, spokesman of Iraq’s anti-terror unit, said that no Americans were involved in the attack.
“The anti-terror forces are the only forces who raided the church, there were no Americans at all,” he told AFP. “We came here to help the police and army free the hostages, and we released them with the help of the Americans,” a member of Iraq’s anti-terrorist unit told AFP at the scene on Sunday.
Among those killed in the carnage were five women, seven children and two priests, an interior ministry official and wit-nesses said. Ten women, eight children and a priest were among the wounded. Five attackers were killed and eight arrested, the official said, adding there had been more than 100 worshippers at the cath-edral in central Baghdad when the gunmen stormed in.
The Vatican, Italy and France were among the first to condemn the hostage-taking in Bagh-dad. Around 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq in 2003 but their number has since shrunk to 550,000 as members of the comm-unity have fled abroad, according to Christian leaders.
Iraqi Christians have frequently been the target of violence, including murder and abductions. Hundreds have been killed and several churches attacked since the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003.