Telegraph UK (Link) - Adrian Blomfield (November 12, 2010)
Unless told what to look for, the casual visitor to the once glamorous Baghdad thoroughfare that hugs the east bank of the Tigris would almost certainly pass them by. The Stars of David carved into the stonework of the low-slung buildings that line the alleyways of Abu Nuwas Street are little more than a curiosity these days – a memento of a civilisation lost to the pages of history.
Judaism has a connection to Iraq that no other faith can match. The patriarch Abraham may well have been born there; the prophet Jonah reluctantly returned to foretell the destruction of Nineveh. Centuries later, the Bible tells us that the exiled Jewish people sat down by Babylon's rivers and wept for their homeland. Yet Jewish links to Iraq are far from ancient history.
In the 1920s, there were reckoned to have been 130,000 Jews in Baghdad, 40 per cent of the population. Today, after decades of persecution before and immediately after the creation of the state of Israel, there are no more than eight.
Iraqi Christians might not be able to boast such a heritage – though even if there is no way of proving their belief that the apostle Thomas brought the faith to Iraq in the first century AD, theirs is still one of the oldest Christian communities on earth. Yet after a series of attacks in the past month by Islamist extremists – whose creed is the parvenu of the monotheistic religions in the country – fears are mounting that Christianity in Iraq is doomed to follow Judaism into oblivion.