TEL KAIF, Iraq — A Christian woman along with her ailing husband was allowed to stay in their hometown of Tel Kaif under ISIS rule for two years. Rudaw reporters spoke with her on Wednesday, when she recounted her time spent under ISIS.
“I was standing here when they [ISIS] first came. ‘Are you Christian?’ they asked. ‘Yes, I am Christian,’ I replied,” Badna Shaih said. “They asked me to give them the identity card of my husband. They left me when I said that he was ill and therefore couldn’t walk.
Tel Kaif is a predominantly Christian town which is 10 kilometers north of Mosul. There are some Sunni and Shiite Muslims living in the town, too.
Most people left Tel Kaif after ISIS seized control of the town. ISIS militants had greatly damaged the town’s church.
“Later, local people were bringing them back to my doorsteps, telling them (ISIS) that I was Christian. They once told me that I had to either convert into Islam or move to the place where Kurds live, or we will confiscate your home. I cried a lot that day. They didn’t come back anymore,” Shaih said.
Badna Shaih’s husband is ill in bed and requires constant medical care, which is why he wasn’t able to leave his hometown when ISIS overran Tel Kaif in 2014.
“There was a library in the church. It was full of books. They took them outside. I wanted to take them. I asked them to allow me to take them. They burnt some of them, and agreed that I take some of them. But some people there told them not to allow me to take the books, telling them (ISIS) that I was a Christian, Badna Shaih said.
“I told them I wanted the books for the furnace. But there was someone there who told them that I didn’t intend the books for use in the furnace, and that I wanted the books because I was a Christian. They eventually burnt them.”
The Iraqi army liberated Tel Kaif in January 2017. Few people have since returned to the town.