Christians in Iraq are being hunted, murdered and driven from their homes in a wave of ethnic cleansing perhaps more brutal than any in the community’s 2,000-year history. Before the U.S. invasion, Iraq was home to more than a million Christians — a small but thriving minority that Saddam Hussein protected. Under American occupation, Iraq’s Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has been driven toward extinction.
Islamic militants bomb churches. Militiamen go house to house warning Christians to leave or be killed. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have joined the exodus of 4 million Iraqis of all faiths, the largest population displacement in the modern history of the Middle East.
The purpose of this story, according to the staff of CBS News, was to break away from the daily headlines — the statistics on car bombs, troop strengths, new military strategies — and show what the war has done to the Iraqi people. Their goal was to tell the story of a religious community with roots to St. Thomas now enduring its darkest days.
Judges said, “With this story, the ‘60 Minutes’ team demonstrated its commitment to telling a story that could easily be lost in the chaos of war coverage. They put together an emotional and educational report, thanks in no small part to Iraqis who were willing to risk their safety in order to share their experiences of being persecuted for their faith. It is clear correspondent Scott Pelley and his producers also accept personal risk to report this story — from traveling in Iraq to knocking on doors in Jordan to sneaking covert interviews out of Syria.
“Viewers do not often hear about Christians in Iraq, much less the atrocities they’ve suffered. The report had several shocking moments revealing the violence against Christians and comparing the current situation to the time when Saddam Hussein was in power.
“The final product is a well-written, clearly told, finely edited piece.”