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Muslim Students Stage Sit-In To Support Christians At Iraqi University

The wreckage of a car at the site of a car bomb Al-Hamdaniya in March
The wreckage of a car at the site of a car bomb Al-Hamdaniya in March
MOSUL, Iraq -- Lecturers and Muslim students at northern Iraq's Mosul University staged a sit-in today to protest deadly attacks against Christian students, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

A student activist who requested anonymity told RFI that the action is in support of Christian students who have been the victims of bomb attacks and murder. He said the sit-in will end only when measures are taken to ensure the safety of Christians, in particular, and the student body as a whole.

A roadside bomb and a car bomb exploded near buses transporting students from the predominantly Christian town of Al-Hamdaniya to Mosul University on May 2. One civilian was killed and 100 others, mostly students, were wounded.

Christian students stopped attending classes at Mosul University after that attack in fear for their safety. The Muslim students staging today's sit-in have said they will return to class only when their Christian counterparts do.

Student Sami Karim told RFI that the protesters are especially indignant that their fellow students have become targets simply because they are Christian.

Ethel Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh Province in which Mosul is located, said that his government "sympathizes with the students and their sit-in."

Referring to the security situation for Christian students, Nujaifi said security forces are "partly responsible as they have failed to properly discharge their duties." He added that there must be a thorough investigation of the recent attacks against Christians to reassure the population that such acts will not be tolerated.

Before the first Gulf War in 1991 there were some 1 million Christians in Iraq. About one-third are believed to have fled Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.