Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: Iraq is ‘Just Too Dangerous’ for Western Journalists

By Lauretta Brown | September 3, 2014 | 3:08pm EDT


Canon Andrew White, the "Vicar of Baghdad". (Canon Andrew's Blog)

( – Rev. Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Church and health clinic in Baghdad, said Wednesday that Iraq has become too dangerous for Western journalists covering the carnage inflicted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Unless it is a life and death situation that you’re working in, you should not be there, “the Anglican priest told BBC Radio. “Even getting news out is no longer a life and death issue. The western world will just have to be without news. It is just too dangerous.”

“I never dreamt that I would ever say that,” he added, “but now is the issue and now is the time when it has just become too dangerous.”

The BBC asked White about his reaction to the news of journalist Steven Sotloff’s death following the release of an ISIS propaganda video showing his beheading.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” he replied. “We’re dealing with the tragedy of these hostages but also with the tragedy of so many other people, not least the Christians and the Yazidis, who have been killed by this extreme, evil terrorist group.”

White recently returned to the UK from Iraq following a diagnosis of hepatitis.

“So many people are in danger,” he emphasized to the BBC.

“I left Iraq yesterday but the danger there is immense and I just want to be back with my people,” he said. “I don’t like being away when it’s like this. Who knows what is going to happen? You cannot deal with this evil Islamic State group. They are impossible to engage with or dialogue with or try and sort out any solution with. They are about death and destruction.”

White said that he previously “worked on over 390 different hostage cases,” soberly noting that “I’ve only got back 46 alive.”

However, he added, “The situation now is completely different. There would be no chance of even beginning to negotiate with this group. They are not prepared to talk to anybody.”

As a result, he said he believes the international community’s options are “very, very, very limited.”

Also known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” White has spoken out in the past about the plight of Christians in Iraq.

Most notably, he recounted the story of a five- year- old boy he had baptized, the young son of a founding member of St. George’s, who was cut in half by ISIS terrorists during an attack. He also told the story of an entire family of eight who were all shot in the face because of their refusal to convert to Islam.

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