2004 Iraq churches attacks
|2004 Iraq churches attacks|
|Date||01 August 2004
~18:30 – ~19:00 (UTC+4)
|Target||Church Sayidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) - Karrada, Baghdad Church Sayidat al-Zohour (Our Lady of the Flowers) - Karrada, Baghdad (Armenian Catholic Church) Sts. Peter & Paul, Dora, Baghdad St. Paul Church - Center of Mosul St. Elia, Baghdad St. Mary's Church in east Baghdad|
|Deaths||at least 12|
|at least 71|
On August 1, 2004, a series of car bomb attacks took place during the Sunday evening Mass in churches of two Iraqi cities, Baghdad and Mosul. The six attacks killed at least 12 people and wounded at least 71. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, blamed the attacks on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The bombings marked the first major attack against the Christian community since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The attacks happened within a few minutes of each another.  The rigged cars were parked outside churches and detonated when parishioners were leaving services. Only one of the bombings is believed to have been a suicide attack. The witnesses reported that "body parts were scattered across the area". Of the six bombs, one did not explode and the police was able to remove it safely.
In Mosul, hospitals reported two persons killed and 15 wounded.
A Vatican spokesman, Rev. Ciro Benedettini, called the attacks "terrible and worrisome". The Pope "firmly deplored the unjust aggressions against those whose only aim is to collaborate for peace and reconciliation in the country". The Russian Orthodox Church issued a statement saying "the attacks were an attempt to spark a religious conflict."
Muslims around the country condemned the attacks. In a statement to Al-Jazeera television, a spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr said: "This is a cowardly act and targets all Iraqis". Ali al-Sistani issued a statement in which he wrote: "We stress the need to respect the rights of Christians in Iraq and those of other religious faiths and their right to live in their home, Iraq, peacefully."
In spite of all reassurances given by Muslim religious and Iraqi political leaders to the members of ancient (almost two thousand years old) Christian community, the exodus of Christians from Iraq has been going on since 2003. Although only comprising about three percent of the population, Iraqi Christians make up 20% of Iraqis leaving the country as refugees. After 2004 churches bombing, which was the worst act of violence against Christian minority by that time, a member of Christian community, Layla Isitfan, in her interview with Time correspondents said: "If I can't go to church because I'm scared, if I can't dress how I want, if I can't drink because it's against Islam, what kind of freedom is that?"
- "Church Bombings in Iraq Since 2004". The Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- "Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs". BBC News. 2004-08-02. Archived from the original on 4 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- OMAR SINAN (2004-08-01). "Blast Hits Churches Across Iraq, 11 dead". christiansofiraq.com. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- Preti Taneja. "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003". www.christiansofiraq.com. ISBN 1-904584-60-8. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- "Attacks on Iraq churches, 12 killed". The Tribune. 2004-08-01. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- "Church bombs: Top insurgent blamed". CNN. 2004-08-02. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- "Church Bombings in Iraq Since 2004 (June 2004 - July 2009)". Assyrian Int'l News Agency, pdf file. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
- Christopher Allbritton;Samantha Appleton (Sep 27, 2004). "Holy War: Iraq's Persecuted Christians". Time. Retrieved 2010-11-15.