In recent weeks there has been a series of attacks on Iraq’s historic Christian community. Almost 60 people died when militants attacked Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad. In addition there was string of isolated attacks in various Christian neighbourhoods around the country. These attacks have been attributed to Al-Qaeda militants. Discrimination and violence against Christians has grown significantly since the Iraqi Invasion in 2003. It is estimated that this has forced nearly half the population to flee the country.

Local Iraqi Imams have condemned these attacks and have offered moral and physical support to fellow Christians. Muslims who have lost friends in these attacks visited the church to pay their respects. It is clear that these attacks are orchestrated in order to incite tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities in Iraq. It is therefore of utmost importance that these attacks not be allowed to become a source of resentment and animosity between the two religious groups around the globe.

It is easy to quickly label this as an example of Muslim subjugation of Christians. Just like some Muslims hold anti-Semitic views due to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, some Christians would be inclined to hold anti-Muslim views due to these attacks. However, when subscribing to such views, people fail to recognize that Muslims are at a greater threat of being attacked by these Islamic militants than non-Muslims.

With bombings taking place almost daily in the Muslim world, in places like Karachi, Peshawar and Kabul, it is evident that terrorists don’t care much for the faith of their victims. These attacks are often made on heavily populated mosques as well. It must be recognized that these so-called Islamic militants aren’t Islamic, rather they are anarchists who simply use Islam as a means to justify their desire for power, to gain validity for those that sympathize with them and to seek young, new recruits.

It is also interesting to notice that ethnic and religious tensions are directly related to socio-economic conditions of a nation. During times of prosperity and economic stability we notice that religious tensions are almost non-existent. However, during troubled times with resources scarce, people have to fight for their needs and this involves overpowering and denying rights to the other. People naturally seek moral justification for such actions and this is where they cleverly use religion as grounds for committing such acts, even though the religion itself might not allow it. Also to notice is that when there is socio-economic uproar in a society, the collective conscience of people is troubled with insecurity and fear. This causes them to naturally lash out on specific groups and this is something evident in the recent wave of anti-Islamic rhetoric in the United States.

I, as a Muslim, offer my deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives, and hope that people are able to look past these woeful attempts of creating divisions amongst religious people. Religion is not the source of our division but it is underlying human problems that divide us. Forming the two most practiced religions in the world, it is essential that Muslims and Christians work hand in hand to solve the issues facing our community. They have lived peacefully together in Iraq for over a millennium and there is no reason this can’t continue.

Originally written for The Silhouette