Christians in Iraq request prayer for a church leader, facing blasphemy charges and societal pressure, after social media comments deemed insulting to Islam.
Bishop Bahzad Mziri of the Anabaptist church, who many years ago converted from Islam to Christianity, made a comparison on social media several months ago between the life of Jesus and the Prophet of Islam. The Bishop described his post as an answer to insulting statements made by a Muslim leader who criticised Jesus, his birth from a Virgin and the Bible.
On 16 February 2023, Islamic fundamentalists republished his posts, inciting anger toward the Bishop, his church and Protestants. A Muslim leader issued a video saying that the Islamic law in such situations is death. A court case was filed by several Muslim entities and leaders, but also by a branch office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Social media accounts of Islamists were inciting hate against the Bishop and his family and were calling for a search to locate him. The family was compelled to leave the country.
Bishop Mziri issued a video apologising for his statements, explaining the context for his post. However, the original statements by the Muslim leader could not be found online.
Authorities in the KRG reassured churches that they can function normally and should report any security threat. They have also taken measures to contain the rage of Islamists and to prevent hate speech.
The Anabaptist church stopped using their buildings for worship and curtailed public activities, citing pressure from some authorities.
Christians in Iraq request prayer for
- the Bishop and his family, to know the peace of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit
- Church members to know the protection and the peace of the Father
- for the Anabaptist church to reopen its doors for worship and continue its social activities
- the worldwide abolition of blasphemy laws
- more tolerance toward Christians in Iraq