SORAN, Kurdistan Region — Christian villagers and clergy members in Erbil’s Soran district have told Rudaw of religious coexistence in the area.”I have never experienced anyone interfering in my job. It is a special duty to hold our prayer ceremonies and our Muslim brothers sometimes help us out,” said Yatron Yonan, the bishop of Soran.
There are close to 500 Christians in Soran town, which has three churches.
“For our bishops from Europe, America and Australia to come and visit Kurdistan is a sign that we are going to stay here. It is our land; our homes are here, it is better to toil here than leave,”Yonan added.
“We all freely worship God at our own sites, be it at a church or a mosque,” said Kuya Mishimshun, a church custodian in the village of Hawdian.
According to Iraqi government data, Iraq was home to 18 million people in 1991, including two million Christians.
Conflict in Iraq in 2005 killed 1,141 Christians and destroyed 98 churches. In 2014, the number of Christians in Iraq dropped to 700,000.
Almost 138,000 Christians were displaced to the Kurdistan Region when the Islamic State took over swathes of Iraq in 2014.