"They kidnapped me while I was in my factory. They kept me in a basement for four days, without drinking or eating. The last day, they took my Holy Cross necklace and put it into a glass full of urine. Then, one of the kidnappers leaned a knife against my throat and told me 'If you become a Muslim, we will not kill you'" Rostom Sefarian, 63 years old, a Christian man from Mosul held captive for five days by Islamic fundamentalists
Like thousands of other Iraqi Christians who became victims of religion-based attacks in the past years, Sefarian was forced to sell his house and his business and flee for the relative safety of Kurdistan, the North-Eastern Iraqi autonomous region and the only stable area in the country.
But what was once a safe haven for Christians is rapidly turning into the last, departing point for the tens of thousands who feel without a future in their home country. With no jobs or pensions, no perspectives to integrate in a Kurdish society they don't understand nor belong to, and no hope of effective political representation in a country dominated by Shia, Sunni and Kurds, more and more Christians are emigrating to Europe or North America. The Iraqi Christian population has shrunk to a mere 200,000 from 800,000 before the 2003 U.S invasion of Iraq, raising fears about a the possible extinction of one of the most ancient Christian community in the world.
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