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Christian radio station on air in Iraq

BASRA, Iraq, April 7 (UPI) -- The first Christian radio station broadcasting hymns and Bible readings went on the air in the southern Iraqi province of Basra, city officials said.

The minority Christian community in Iraq has faced violent suppression in the past, with much of the population displaced by violence, mostly in the north.

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Saad Matti Petros, who leads the committee for minority affairs on the Basra city council, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Iraqi bureau that the station does not have a certain ideology, adding the director of the station signed a statement pledging to respect other religions.

The Voice of the New Testament went on air in Basra province this week from offices at the Basra National Evangelical Church.

Ahmad al-Sulayti, the deputy head of the Basra city council, said city leaders gave the station immediate permission to start broadcasting.

"We consider this a big achievement in the new Iraq," he said. "It proves there is an opening to all the other cultures" in the country.

Later formatting should include regional news, RFE/RL added.

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