Iraq: Few Christian families have returned to Mosul after 10 years

Ten years after the so-called Islamic State swept across Iraq and Syria, only a handful of Christian families have returned to their homes in the city of Mosul.

Jun 12, 2024

A drone view shows the Al-Tahira Church as rebuilding work continues in Mosul, Iraq

MOSUL: After being forced to leave their homes in the Iraqi city of Mosul because of religious extremism and violence ten years ago, very few Christian families have returned home.

According to Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Amel Shimon Nona, the majority of the 1,200 Christian families had left the city of Mosul due to the violence carried out by the so-called Islamic State (IS).

In an interview with the Vatican’s Fides news agency, the Archbishop said he and his priests sought refuge in the villages of the Nineveh Plain, such as Kramles and Tilkif, during the height of the war.

"Our church, dedicated to the Holy Spirit, was looted by gangs of thieves while the city was being taken over by IS. However, the Muslim families living nearby called the Islamist militiamen, who intervened and put an end to the looting,” said Archbishop Nona.

Christians began departing in droves after IS “marked” their homes for expropriation. Two nuns and three teenagers were temporarily kidnapped by the jihadists.

Then, in January 2015, the soldiers of IS expelled from Mosul ten elderly Chaldean and Syrian Catholic Christians after they refused to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam.

By June 2015, IS controlled a third of Iraq and almost half of Syria, threatened Libya and was a member of dozens of armed groups in the Middle East and Africa.

In 2017, the militants were defeated in their self-proclaimed Iraqi capital of Mosul after a lengthy battle.

The Chaldean Bishop of Alqosh, Paul Thabit Mekko, told Fides that he believes that more than 90 percent of the Christians who fled Mosul would not think of returning due to psychological pain.

Many Christians consider the period of IS rule in Mosul a time of trauma that left a deep scar on the city that was once called a place of coexistence between people of different faiths.

“We do not know if the situation will change,” said Bishop Mekko. “Today many live in Ankawa, the district of Erbil inhabited by Christians. They feel safer there; there are more opportunities to work. They do not think of returning to a city that has changed a lot since their time. They would not recognize it."--Vatican News

(Source: Fides News Agency)

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