Diaspora Threatens Christianity’s Existence in Iraq

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Now that Mosul and surrounding towns have been recovered from Islamic State (IS) control, Christian leaders are working to reestablish the faith in the area. The task is proving to be an uphill battle considering that Christian families no longer want to settle back in the war-torn region.

REUTERS/Zohra BensemraDisplaced Iraqi women who just fled their home,rest in the desert as they wait to be transported while Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq February 27, 2017.

Despite the lack of data, it was estimated that Iraq had 1.5 million Christians before 2003. Advocates are banking on that number to reinstate Christianity in northern Iraq particularly in Qaraqosh where minority Christians co-existed with Muslims for centuries.

Hundreds of residents rushed back to Qaraqosh following its liberation late last year, eager to start their lives anew. But the town was razed to the ground and what remained standing were ruins of their former homes.

Even the country’s largest Christian church, St. Mary al-Tahira, which holds great significance to Christians in Qaraqosh, was left beyond repair. “IS graffiti has been smeared on its walls, the nave is scorched black by fire and the altar has been vandalized,” Voice of America described the sorry state of the church where 3,000 faithful used to worship every Sunday.

Turning their backs on their obliterated hometown is not a difficult choice especially when faced with the promise of a better life elsewhere. Like other natives, Hind Jijji and her family plan to join the mass exodus to Europe. “I don’t want to live in this place again,” she said. “I don’t want to ever live next to people who chose to stay under IS rule,” she added.

A report by The Guardian fears that migration might cause the disappearance of Christianity in the Middle East. “Continued mass migration of our people to the West is the greatest danger to our existence as a religious minority in Iraq,” said Romeo Hakari, leader of an Assyrian political party.


His group is trying to negotiate with these countries to reverse this trend. Instead of encouraging mass migrations, foreign governments can assist in rebuilding efforts instead. “Western countries can play a major role in providing us with assistance to rebuild our homes and defend ourselves in an autonomous region,” he added.