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IRD Urges Prayer, Advocacy for Afghani and Iraqi Christians

"Freedom and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan must apply to our Christian brothers and sisters there." -- Faith J.H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Director

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2010 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Institute on Religion and Democracy is urging an end to persecution of Christians in Afghanistan and Iraq. The organization also encourages Washington, DC area residents to show solidarity with these beleaguered Christians at a rally sponsored by Iraqi American Christians for "Justice in Iraq" at noon, Saturday, December 4, at the White House's Lafayette Park. The rally will call upon the respective governments to ensure that the rights and freedoms of the indigenous minorities in Iraq are honored and protected.

Two Afghani Christian converts, Said Musa (45) and Ahmad Shah (50) are in prison awaiting trial on the death penalty charge of "apostasy" from Islam. The Christian population of Iraq is under threat from Islamic jihadists following the latest atrocity, a massacre of Christians at Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church, Baghdad, on October 31, 2010.

Musa and Shah were arrested May 31 with other converts after footage of a baptismal service was viewed on national television. Witnesses report that Musa has been beaten, tortured, and sexually abused on a daily basis.

Al Qaeda-connected jihadists have told Iraq's Christians and other "infidels" to "prepare to die." This threat followed the attack on Baghdad Christians at Sunday mass which left 58 dead. The Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians trace their ancestry back 7,000 years to the ancient Mesopotamians.

IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:

    "America has given billions of dollars, and, more importantly, given precious American lives, to bring freedom and democracy to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. But this must include freedom and democracy for our Christian brothers and sisters and other indigenous minorities, as well.

    "In 2006, the international community was outraged when Afghan Christian convert Abdul Rahman faced the death penalty. His life was saved because of the outcry.

    "These Iraqi Christians, who are being hunted like animals by the Islamists, still speak Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. We must stand with them in their hour of peril."

The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church's biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.