Families in the U.S. fear for safety of Arab Christian relatives

| Thursday, December 30, 2010 | |
by Jeff Brumley

Forgive Michael Kassab if he isn't whistling "Jingle Bells" and joking around with friends about who's been naughty or nice this year.

On the contrary, Kassab said he's finding it difficult to get into the spirit at all because his Christian relatives and friends in Iraq are experiencing increased persecution. It's a bleak reality made horrifyingly evident in October when Muslim terrorists stormed a Baghdad church and massacred more than 60 worshipers. One of the many wounded in the attack was Kassab's sister.

"It's very scary and frightening," he said after attending a prayer service at his church, St. Ephrem Syriac Catholic Church in Jacksonville. "How do I celebrate when I know my family is completely in danger?"

That gut-churning question plagues most members of the parish, about half of whom are from Iraq. The rest are from other Middle Eastern nations where Christians are also besieged.



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