Samir stands speechless amongst the carnage outside his Christian church where four charred cars lie wrecked in the street. People are standing staring, speechless. “So Bin Laden’s lot finally came for the Christians.. they are trying to create a civil war here.” I follow Samir through the slaughter, we approach a crater in the road. “See Sean, what a bomb blast does.”
I stare into a huge empty hole in the road and notice a man standing next to me with blood on his trousers. He points to the half demolished house behind him and beckons us inside. In the doorway is a Kalashnikov next to a child’s bike. The dining room is covered with splinters of glass, everything is completely destroyed. “My children were sat watching TV when the bomb went off… it’s a miracle they survived.” He points to his blood soaked trousers. “I had to pull splinters of glass out of them before the ambulance arrived.” He breaks down and cries. “I have just been staring at it.. I don’t know where to start repairing it, let alone where we will get the money..” Samir consoles the man and we leave.
Outside I pass a woman in her fifties, she grabs my camera.. “This is Bush’s fault.. America’s fault… I’m a Christian but I’m an Iraqi first!!” The woman moves on. I look around at the bloodshed in a Christian street I know so well. This is just one of 4 Christian churches targeted yesterday.
I move on to the other church five minutes away. The carnage here is even worse. I step over a charred car engine 200 metres away from the wreck of a car. The bomb blast sent it flying. I walk among blackened burnt out cars, a wrecked bus, destroyed buildings. We are told of an eight year old child who is currently having surgery to remove both her eyes, destroyed in the blast.
Samir looks into a graveyard inside the church compound where graves are smashed into pieces. “You know it has got so bad here that it is funny.” Samir breaks into fits of laughter. “Look, even the dead cannot rest peacefully.. they’ve even managed to disturb the dead.”
We go to Samir’s brother’s house. Maher greets me with a piece of twisted metal. “It landed here after the blast.. What did I tell you Mr Sean.. Last week they bombed all the Christian alcohol shops, and now they are turning on our churches.” Outside, his neighbours are repairing the windows. Maher sits down, his head listening to the familiar sound of broken glass being swept up. “You know glass is very expensive in Iraq now.” An American tank thunders past, followed by two humvees. Samir is angry “Iraq wouldn’t have these problems if we didn’t have the oil. If we were a poor African country with an evil dictator, who would care? Nobody!” Maher shakes his head, “It is very difficult Mr Sean.. We know these families that have been killed, my son’s best friend was killed as well. There is no one here to protect us now.” Maher gets up to leave. He stops, thinking for a minute, and turns to me.
“You know Saddam would never have let this happen to us. He used to protect the Christians.”