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Life Was Better For Christians Under Saddam
Times Online (UK)
Joanna Sugden
December 21, 2007

Life was "better" for Christians in Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein than it is today, according to the only Anglican vicar working in Baghdad.

Canon Andrew White, vicar of St George's Church in the capital of Iraq told Times Online that day-to-day life was ‘a lot easier' for Christians when the vicious dictator Saddam Hussein was President of the country. But he said he still believed removing him was the right thing to do, for the sake of the long-term future of the country and its inhabitants.

"It is still very difficult ," he said." Not like it was under Saddam, it was a lot easier just day - to - day living. There are threats to these our people all the time. They know who the Christians are."

But the cleric, who is flown regularly to the US to advise President George Bush in person on what is happening in the country said he still thinks removing the dictator was the right thing to do. "For a while I didn't, for a while I thought, things are so terrible but the reality was that there was no way the Iraqis could remove the regime themselves," he said.

Canon White, who leads a church of more than 1000 people in the war-torn city and travels to work in an armoured vehicle accompanied by 30 armed guards, had to leave Iraq in July because of death threats against him. He returned in October but says police in Britain warned his family they should move out of their home in Hampshire for fear of attacks. Their family home is now equipped with panic alarms with direct links to the local police.

The vicar says the British Embassy in Iraq often forbids him from leaving the International Zone in Baghdad because of the number of threats against his life. Canon White has lost eleven staff because of sectarian violence since the start of the conflict. But he is committed to finding a religious solution to the violence in the country.

"It's by engaging with the Islamic leaders, that we deal with the targeting Christians. You can't just deal with the nice guys you've got to deal with the bad guys, they're all my friends, I know them all," he said.

"It was better for Christians under Saddam. Now life is bad for everybody but it will change. Our hope has to be in God more than politics. I believe that's the answer."

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