AP looked at this phenomenon in 2009:
Christians first began leaving Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, during the economic sanctions and repression under Saddam Hussein, who pushed more Islamist policies. But the trickle turned to a flood after Saddam was toppled in 2003 and the violence escalated, said a prominent Iraqi Christian lawmaker, Younadem Kana.Since then it got worse:
"I hope to leave for any other place in the world," said Sheeran Surkon, a 27-year-old Iraqi woman who fled to Syria in 2004 after she received death threats, her father disappeared and her beauty salon was blown up.
Sukron awaits resettlement to another country, saying she can’t tolerate the violence and new Muslim conservatism in Iraq.
"How can I live there as a woman?" she asked.
Daoud Daoud, 70, a former civil servant in the northern city of Mosul, now spends his time waiting with dozens of others at a Damascus, Syria, resettlement center, hoping to follow his children to Sweden.
"Iraq as we once knew it is over. For us there is no future there," he said.
More than 2 million refugees of all religions have fled Iraq since the 2003 invasion. The recent ebb in violence has lured some Muslim refugees to return in small numbers.
But few Christians contemplate going back, the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees reports.
"They simply do not feel safe enough. They cannot sufficiently count on state security or any other force to protect them," said the the agency’s acting representative in Damascus, Philippe Leclerc.
In a report last year, the head of its Iraq support unit said that Christians are more likely than other fleeing Iraqis to register as refugees in an effort to emigrate to a third country.
"The vast majority of Iraqis still want to return to Iraq when the conditions permit — the notable exception being religious minorities, particularly Christians," the report said.
"When I came here to my parish in Karrada, we had 2,000 families," said Monsignor Luis al-Shabi, 70, who started at St. Joseph’s 40 years ago. "But now we only have 1,000 — half."
The situation is worse in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora to the south — where 30,000 prewar Christians fled during the six years of war. The now-quiet neighborhood has only a single church and a handful of Christians.
More troubling, when a group of Christian families recently tried to return to homes in Dora, two Christian women were killed, Iraq’s Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly said in an interview after meeting with the pope in nearby Jordan.
Execution-style killings late last year targeted Christians in Mosul, as did a string of bombings. In March of last year, the body of Mosul’s Chaldean Christian archbishop was found in a shallow grave a month after he was kidnapped at gunpoint as he left a Mass.
Abdullah al-Nawfali, who heads the Christian endowments fund, says there has been a sharp increase in the number of Christians leaving Iraq since the October 31 suicide attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.To artist Garry Trudeau, Islamists aren't to blame for murdering and persecuting Christians. Iraq's government and army are blameless for not protecting their religious minorities. No, it is America's fault! Life was so great under Saddam Hussein - why can't we go back to running Iraq with a homicidal dictator?
More than 50 Christians, including two priests, and seven policemen were killed when Iraqi security forces stormed the Baghdad church in which Islamic terrorists wearing explosive vests were holding worshippers hostage.
Nawfali says the number of Christians emigrating from Iraq in November -- immediately after the church siege – more than doubled from the previous month, and the rate of increase in December was even higher.
He says these statistics suggest that Iraq is in danger of losing its Christian community, which has lived for centuries alongside Muslims and other ethnic and religious groups.
When Copts inevitably flee Egypt for similar reasons, is Trudeau going to write any comics wishing that Mubarak was back in power? Or will he find a way to blame that on America as well?
We all know who is behind persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East. But some people just can't stop themselves from blaming Big Satan (and, inevitably, his little brother.)
Using Trudeau's logic, the publishers of the Mohammed cartoons are to blame for the people killed in the ensuing riots. Which is an interesting position for a political cartoonist to take.