Three members of a Christian family were stabbed to death in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on the evening of Thursday 8 March 2018, in what community leaders are describing as a targeted attack aimed at frightening Christians into leaving Iraq.
Dr Hisham Shafiq al-Maskuni (61), his wife Shaza and his mother Khairiya were attacked and killed by armed men, who then stole money and valuables from their home.
The leader of a local Christian group told journalists, “This crime has only one message. Frightening our people and forcing them to leave the country.”
One church minister in Baghdad stated the attack was not an isolated incident: “This means that there is no place for Christians. We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time.”
The murders were also condemned by a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament, who tweeted that it demonstrated “minorities are persecuted in their homeland.”
More than a decade of anti-Christian violence in Iraq’s capital has led to the closure of eight churches, as congregation members have fled the country. Christians in Baghdad have been deliberately targeted for kidnapping, while some Christian shopkeepers have been forced to pay “protection money” to militias.
On 12 March, the United Nations’ Special Representative for Iraq called on the government to take steps to protect the country’s Christian minority. Highlighting the murders in Baghdad, Ján Kubiš stated, “There is no place for intolerance and discrimination, for targeting and suppressing minorities. I urge the government to support and protect the minorities, including Yezidi, Christians, Shabak, Sabean Mandaeans, and others.”