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Christian family stabbed to death in Iraq

by Eno Adeogun

Dr Hisham Shafiq al-Maskuni, 61, a radiologist at a nuns' hospital, his wife Dr Shaza Malik Dinno, a gynaecologist at the same hospital, and her elderly mother, Khairiyah Dawood Abada, were stabbed by four men last Thursday who then stole money and some items from the house.

According to World Watch Monitor, the bodies were discovered by neighbours the next morning, after noticing through the open door Mr al-Maskuni's body in the corridor. The police later found his wife's body in the kitchen and her mother's on the second floor.

Attacks on Iraq's Christian community have forced thousands to flee from their homes, particularly in the capital. The significant loss of the Christian populace in the city led to eight churches closing their doors after nearly seven years of low to no attendance.

A spokesperson for Iraq's Interior Ministry announced over the weekend that the suspects had been arrested.

While the motivation behind the murders remains unknown, a local source told World Watch Monitor the incident has increased fears among Iraqi Christians.

Fr Biyos Qasha of Baghdad Maryos Church echoed this fear and told Iraqi news agency Rudaw: "This (attack) means that there is no place for Christians. We are seen as a lamb to be killed at any time."

He also shared his concern that "these are the signs of a start of a (new) plan to force the Christian population from their homes and out of the country".

This is the second attack against Christians in three weeks in the same part of Baghdad.

Claire Evans, regional manager of International Christian Concern (ICC), said: "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.

"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."

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