The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Baghdad has vowed that the city's churches will remain open to allow Christians and Muslims to take refuge there during the US-led war, according to a newspaper article published Tuesday in Switzerland. "This people (the Iraqis) has had to suffer awful things over the past two decades," Archbishop Jean Benjamin Steiman wrote in an article published in the mass-circulation Blick daily. "We will not leave them alone at this time," he wrote. "I will do what is needed to keep the (Catholic) churches of Baghdad open for both Christian and Muslim civilians to take refuge there during the war," he wrote.
He also said he would be staying in the city in case Christians there were attacked as a result of the war, but stressed that he saw no sign of that for the moment. "As Christians, we are in a minority, and we could be used as scapegoats for this war," he wrote. "Order still reigns for the moment, but there could be attacks on Christians. And that is why we will not leave," he wrote. "Whether we like it or not, the West is assimilated here to Christianity. We want to show that that is false, and that we Christians are not like Western politicians, who talk about war as if it was a simplei ssue." Only an estimated 800,000 of Iraq's total population of 25 million areC hristians, who are divided among several churches.