Iraqi Christians complain of Hashd forces’ alleged Shiafication of Nineveh towns

  • Written by:

Lorraine Caballero
Christian residents in the Nineveh plains have complained about the Hashd al-Shaabi forces’ alleged Shiafication of certain towns in the area, a practice which they believe would prevent other locals from returning to their homes.
(REUTERS / Alaa al-Marjani)Members of the Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Committee, chant slogans against Islamic State in Tikrit on March 30, 2015.

Amir Yaqu, a Christian who escaped to Duhok when the Islamic State overran Bartella in 2014, said he has not yet returned even though his hometown has already been free from the terrorists for more than a year. While they initially thought that they would be able to resume their normal lives, he said the situation has taken a turn for the worse because of the alleged Shiafication by Hashd forces, Rudaw relayed.

“The situation of these areas is getting worse day by day,” said Yaqu. “The Hashd al-Shaabi forces are systematically trying to change the Christian demography of these places. They have started to operate sectarian schools in churches and religious centers.”

In addition, Yaqu said they have already informed Kurdish and Iraqi authorities about the “upsetting” activities of the Hashd al-Shaabi. These include the opening of the Imam Khomeini School, which was named after Iranian revolutionary leader Aytollah Khomeini, and the construction of two more sectarian schools allegedly under the direct supervision of the Iranian consul.

Meanwhile, a source informed Rudaw that Hashd al-Shaabi forces have retreated from Zummar and Rabia in Mosul. The militias reportedly told locals that Peshmerga forces would be taking their place.

While Peshmerga Ministry’s Chief of Staff Jamal Iminiki confirmed the withdrawal of the Hashd troops, he said he did not know the reason why they retreated. He added that Erbil and Baghdad had not agreed to let Peshmerga troops enter the areas in question.

The Hashd al-Shaabi and Iraqi forces entered Zummar, Rabia, and Shingal on Oct. 17 after the militia took the city of Kirkuk. They also had an encounter with the Peshmerga as Iraqi troops advanced towards Fish Khabur. The conflict was only halted after the two sides engaged in a series of talks.