EYE ON THE GULF
Saddam asks Christians
Christmas message urges united opposition to 'forces of evil'
Posted: December 27, 2002
5:00 p.m. Eastern
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
In an unusual Christmas message, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appealed to the world's Christians to join him in opposing the "forces of evil" planning a war on his country.
State television introduced Saddam's remarks as, "Our valorous leader sending Christmas wishes to Christians," the Scotsman reported.
Saddam said on Christmas Eve that Christians in Iraq were among those prepared to be "martyred" in defense of the country.
"As much as they love life, our people are ready for martyrdom in the defense of Iraqs land and airspace, its honor and the just causes of its destiny," Saddam said. "In the forefront lies our beloved Palestine. This is where Jesus Christ, peace be upon Him, delivered his message."
Sending greetings to "all true and genuine Christians in the world," the Iraqi leader said he wanted to commemorate the "birthday of Jesus Christ, the son of Mary."
The New Year, he said, brought the risk of an invasion of Iraq.
"However, our resilient people in all their faiths Muslims, Christians and others take today a strong stand of dignity and pride," he said.
He concluded by suggesting that both Christians and Muslims faced a call to jihad, or holy war.
"The road to deter the injustice, aggression and wickedness of the evil-minded is the road of jihad and struggle," he said. "Those who follow Satan will fall down the precipice of defeat. Many happy returns of the New Year to you all."
Iraqi Christians comprised mostly of Chaldeans, Copts, Roman and Melkite Catholics, Maronites and Greek Orthodox number less than 1 million of Iraq's population of about 23 million. The vast majority are Muslims.
Saddam's call to Christians to join him in opposition to war comes at a time when both U.S. and British church leaders increasingly are speaking out against their governments' buildup to an invasion of Iraq.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, used his Christmas message to attack the Blair government over its readiness to launch a military attack, according to the BBC. He warned world leaders that even "wise men" could "wreak havoc and suffering."
Earlier this month, the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago said in a letter to President Bush "that in the present situation conditions justifying war have not been met," according to the Episcopal News Service.
Contending that "compelling evidence" of an imminent Iraqi attack is missing, and that diplomacy has not been exhausted, the leaders stressed "that there is ample time and latitude for pursuing alternatives that could avert warfare, saving untold thousands of lives."