A doctor, his wife, and his mother were all stabbed to death on Thursday evening at their private home. Sources claim that the motive behind the attack was faith-related. In particular, the attack was carried out by an armed anti-Christian group.
Christian Headlines writes that on March 9, 2018, this family of three living in Baghdad was discovered dead in their home. An investigation revealed that they were stabbed to death on the previous day by an armed group. Sources claim that the family was discovered dead and their valuables were also stolen. The victims were Dr. Hisham Shafiq al-Maskuni, his wife Shaza Malik, and his elderly mother Khairiya.
“I cannot believe that he passed away in such a terrible way," remarked a doctor who worked at the same hospital as Dr. al-Maskuni. "I once heard Hisham say how people in his neighborhood are giving him hard times because they are trying to take his house and buy it. (I think) probably the killer was trying to threaten him and when Hisham recognized who he is, the killer decided to kill him and the rest of the family.”
World Watch Monitor reports that the doctor's body was found on the ground and covered in blood. His wife's body was in the kitchen and the mother's body was on the second floor.
One source from the Middle East writes that the attackers, although armed and in a group, are currently unknown. But this is certainly not an isolated incident for Christians in Iraq, who are often the targets of religious violence. Only a few days ago a small boy was killed in Baghdad for being Christian, and sources are almost unanimous in believing that this tragedy, too, was an act of anti-Christian violence.
“This means that there is no place for Christians,” said Fr. Biyos Qasha of Baghdad's Maryos Church, according to Rudaw Network. “We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time.”
Fr. Quasha expressed fear that Christians will soon be forced from their homes and country. Others have expressed fear that attacks like this are designed to force Christians out of their homeland.
Claire Evans, the regional manager of the International Christians Concerned, "the murder of Dr. Hisham Shafiq and his family is a tragedy that sends a deadly message to other Christians in Baghdad that they are not safe, even in their own homes."
She continued, "Extremists view Christians as defenseless, and thus easy targets for a wide variety of crimes. As a result, the persecution which Iraqi Christians have faced over the last decade has been monumentally heartbreaking. Our prayers are with the surviving family members during this difficult time.”
Conditions for Christians in Iraq is not looking good. So many Christians have left the country in recent years that, according to Christian Headlines, a total of eight churches were recently closed down.
In Iraq's last census in 1987, roughly 1.5 million Christians were living in Iraq. After the Iraq War and the subsequent rise of ISIS, the Christian population is somewhere between 400,000 and 600,000. About 130,000 Christians have sought shelter in the Kurdistan region.
There are few places on earth where Christianity is as old as it is in Iraq. Christians in Iraq can trace their history to the first-century apostles. In recent years, however, Christian communities have been persecuted, killed, and forced to move to different countries as a result of ISIS.
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