Rallies took place around the world and in downtown Phoenix Monday afternoon in response to last week’s deadly terrorist attack at a Christian church in Baghdad.
On Nov. 1, at least 58 Christians, including two priests, were killed and 75 others injured at Our Lady of Salvation Church in the worst massacre of Iraqi Christians since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
The Islamic State of Iraq terrorist group later took responsibility for the attack. The group is associated with many extremist organizations, and is al Qaeda’s organization in Iraq.
A crowd of a around 200 protesters on Washington Street and First Avenue between the Phoenix City Hall and the Federal Court House was made up of people from various religions and ethnicities, said Carolyn Odisho, youth advocate and a representative of the Assyrian Democratic movement.
During the Phoenix rally, people spoke out against the violence toward Christians in Iraq. Protesters held pictures of the attack, and passing cars honked their horns in support of the protest. The demonstrators crossed the street to “march” every few minutes.
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“We are out here to raise awareness for the indigenous Christians of Iraq [who] are being persecuted by … the extremists who are targeting us because of who we are and what we believe in,” Odisho said.
Similar rallies took place across North America in cities including Detroit, New York City, Chicago, San Diego and Toronto. Rallies were also held in European countries like Sweden, Holland, Germany and Great Britain.
“I’m here to raise awareness about the incipient genocide taking place against Assyrian Christians in Iraq,” said Joseph Hermiz, history and religious studies undergraduate and youth minister of St. Peters Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East in Glendale.
Last week, in the same press release where the Islamic State of Iraq took responsibility for the attack, they also called all Christians “legitimate targets” for future attacks.
“I’m here to stand for peace. Peace in the Middle East, that’s what I believe in,” said Boaz Witbeck, political science undergraduate and president of the American Israeli Alliance at ASU’s West campus.
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