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.

 

Serious challenges for Arab leaders in Amman

US, allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Tributes flood in for anti-apartheid hero Ahmed Kathrada

Tunisians demand Muslim marriage decree revoked

Historic Casablanca buildings crumbling in silence

UN says over 300 civilians killed since start of west Mosul offensive

Disputed Iraqi province votes to fly Kurdish flag

Germany laments Turkey's 'unacceptable' spying

Syria opposition says no peace deal without US role

Turkey sends delegation to UK over electronics ban

UN chief urges Arab leaders to confront Syria war

Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life for Paris bombing

Arab League set to oppose Trump Israel embassy shift

US vows to never allow 'Israel-bashing' at UN

Netanyahu ban on MP visits to flashpoint holy site challenged

IS launches counter-attack to defend north Syria town

Saudi intercepts four ‘smuggled’ Yemen rebel missiles

Saudi to set up investment fund to help Jordan

Iran slams Bahrain terror cell claims as ‘delusional’

UN says 30 million unsure of next meal in MENA region

Putin to meet Iran President in Moscow

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

Germany’s Turks cast early ballots for Erdogan referendum

German court convicts Pakistani of spying for Iran

Qatar to invest £5bn in UK within five years

'Kill Erdogan' banner probed in Switzerland, Turkey

Arab League chief urges resolution to Syria conflict

Israel arrests 22 ultra-Orthodox sex offenders

Syrian forces pause offensive on IS-held dam for repairs

Dubai's Emaar Malls offers $800m to buy Souq.com

Iraq launches fresh Mosul Old City advance

US-backed fighters battle IS near north Syria town

Hamas partially reopens Beit Hanoun crossing

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies

Iran to appeal seizure of 9/11 compensation money

Hamas shuts Gaza crossing after assassination of official

Deep concern as Israeli laws entrench the occupation

Turkey’s Kurds could sway tight referendum vote

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

US and allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Israel’s air strike on Syria spooks Middle East