Iraqi Assyrian Refugees Flocking to Sweden |

TBC Staff

Iraqi Assyrian Refugees Flocking to Sweden [Excerpts]

One afternoon in September last year Saed's eleven year old son disappeared. A few ours later the phone rang. They called themselves Muhammed's army and they demanded 400,000 dollars for releasing the boy. This was money that Saed did not have and did not have any chance to find. But the kidnappers did not give up. Either the money or Sargon's decapitated head in a bag.

Saed panicked. He had too little money saved. He knew this day would come, but the money he had saved was not nearly enough. After two days he had sold all gold that the family could bring up and he borrowed the rest so he had 30,000 dollars. The kidnappers accepted it and released Sargon.

The same night they released his son, Saed began to plan the family's flight to Södertälje. They were a relatively rich family and lived in a big house. They sold the house and the land around it for the ridiculous sum of 90,000 dollar. This was money that actually was enough to smuggle them from Baghdad to Amman and from Amman to Södertälje. And unlike most other non-Muslim families they did not get stuck in Jordan or Syria.

Today the family, two adults and two children, lives in a two-room apartment in a part of the city called Hovsjö. They do not care if they are living in a small space. They are even waiting for more relatives to come and live with them.

-I would rather live in a basement in a city were my children do not get kidnapped than living in a big house in Baghdad, Saed says when he shows us the apartment.

Non-Muslim Iraqis flee in thousands from Iraq and human rights activists warn that the country is soon cleansed from it's minority groups.

Muslim leaders make, in their war against USA, the Christians in Iraq look like the enemy. Because USA and Great Britain are Christian countries, fundamentalists accuse Christians for the war.

- Most of them who can escape from Mosul and Baghdad do it, says an Assyrian journalist from Mosul.

The organisation Minority Rights Group International calls it "The Christian Exodus". Rape, forced conversion, kidnappings, bomb attacks against churches and beheadings are a part of the everyday life of the Christians.

An organisation that for a long time has fought to help the Christians in Iraq is the Society for Threatened People. Metro has met their Middle East expert Janet Abraham in Munich, southern Germany. She says that too little is being done and that it might be to late.

Christian Assyrians and other ethnic and religious minorities live under terrible circumstances in Iraq right now. The situation is also critical in the neighbouring countries where hundreds of thousands have fled. This is the biggest population movement in modern times.