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We suffered our own pogroms just like Iraq

TO refer to the upsurge in sectarian violence pertaining to parts of the Middle East by Islamic state jihadists as a systematic persecution of Christians does not do justice to the perpetrators of this violence, or to the victims. What the world is witnessing in Iraq is a Christian holocaust.

Iraq is in the midst of a pogrom of Christian genocide, where children are being beheaded, mothers raped and murdered and fathers being hanged. Civilised society must come to the assistance of these victims.

We know only too well, albeit on a much lesser scale, the evils of religious hatreds.

Was it not former Irish president Mary McAleese who said that some people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred of Catholics, in the same way that people give their children an irrational hatred of those who are of different colour?

From the murderous pogroms perpetrated against Catholics in Belfast in the 1920s, the "Catholic cleansing" of the shipyards, to the burnings of hundreds of Catholic homes in Bombay Street in 1969, we are in no position to look down our moral noses, or point sectarian fingers, at what is happening in the Middle East.

Endemic anti-Catholic sectarianism in Northern Ireland has helped in no small way to turn the fabric of the north into a tapestry of religious bigotry and hatred.

Have we forgotten so quickly the tens of thousands of northern Catholics who had to flee across the border every July 11 to escape the annual orgy of anti-Catholic bigotry from fellow Christians?

TOM COOPER

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