EU supports Iraqi Christians

Dec. 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM
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BRUSSELS, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Baghdad needs to protect the rights of Christians to live freely, members of the European Parliament said in the wake of attacks targeting the minority group.

Members of the European Parliament condemned the violence by suspected members of al-Qaida targeting the Christian community in Iraq, one of the oldest in the world.

The resolution expressed the need "to protect the right of all religious groups to gather and worship freely" and stated confidence that Iraqis "will remain steadfast in their continued rejection of efforts by extremists to spark sectarian tension."

The al-Qaida affiliated Islamic State of Iraq took responsibility for an October assault on a Christian church in Baghdad that left 58 people dead and 75 others wounded.

A spate of attacks rocked the Christian community in the north of Iraq in 2008, displacing nearly half of the population.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in March thousands of Christians were displaced from Mosul in northern Iraq because of lingering violence.

The Europeans also stated opposition to the death penalty handed down against former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and several others, saying it did little to advance national reconciliation.

Aziz was the only Christian member of the Baathist regime in Baghdad. He was sentenced in connection to the persecution of Shiites.

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