First Published: 2013-01-20

 

First Christian cultural centre since 2003 opens doors in Kirkuk

 

Authorities open first Christian cultural centre in Iraq in decade, despite dramatic decline in country's once significant Christian population.

 

Middle East Online

Message of peace in time of violence

KIRKUK (Iraq) - Authorities on Sunday opened what they billed as the first Christian cultural centre in Iraq in a decade, despite a dramatic decline in the country's once significant Christian population.

The building was inaugurated in the northern city of Kirkuk, home to a diverse population of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, and is to host conferences and meetings to promote inter-faith communications between the city's Muslim and Christian communities.

"This centre is the first of its kind in Iraq since 2003, it sends a message of peace, and promotes the language of dialogue," said Louis Sakho, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk.

"The communities of Kirkuk are one family," he added.

Construction of the cultural centre, which lies next to Kirkuk's Chaldean church, began in early 2012 and was completed at a cost of around $305,000, officials said.

Iraq's Christian community is one of the oldest of its kind in the world, but they suffered persecution, forced flight and killings in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion.

Before 2003 there were more than a million Christians living in Iraq. Now they number around 450,000.

According to the UN refugee agency, many thousands fled after an October 2010 attack on a church in Baghdad.

From 2003 to May 2012, some 900 Christians were killed, while 200 were kidnapped, tortured and ultimately released for exorbitant ransoms, according to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organisation in Iraq.

 

Campaigning opens for Tunisia presidential election

Peshmerga forces take up arms against ‘Islamic State’ from Kobane

Huthi-Brotherhood conflict cements deep divisions in Yemen

Visit of Bernard Henry Levy triggers storm of protests in Tunisia

Nightmare seems never-ending for families of Lebanese hostages

Al-Nusra Front drives Western-backed rebels from Syria northern bastion

Bomb blast wounds three civilians in Egypt capital

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections