Persecuted minorities ‘airbrushed’ out of BBC documentary – Archbishop

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The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil has accused the BBC of overlooking the plight of persecuted Christians and Yazidis in documentary series Once Upon a Time in Iraq. Archbishop Bashar Warda said Christians and other religious minorities felt pained at being deprived of their voice, The Times reports.

He said it was “wounding and damaging” for religious minorities to have been “airbrushed” out of the documentary, which was produced by KEO Films and broadcast on BBC Two. 

Once Upon a Time in Iraq shares the firsthand accounts of Iraqis from the fall of Saddam Hussein to the rise of ISIS. 

In a letter to the BBC, the Archbishop questioned why the series had omitted to include the experiences of religious minorities who suffered rape, kidnapping and murder at the hands of ISIS. 


“How can this be? Had we not suffered the war and its aftermath just like our Muslim brothers and sisters?” he wrote. 

“Do you understand the persecution we have suffered in our homeland? And that Christians have existed in this land for 2,000 years, the Mandaeans and Yazidis for even longer?

“Does the persecution, murder and rape within our minority communities not count? Are our experiences of the 2003 invasion . . . irrelevant? Minority communities have felt and continue to feel voiceless in our persecution and suffering in Iraq; to be then airbrushed out of a . . . major BBC documentary is wounding and damaging.”

A spokesperson for the BBC defended the documentary, saying: “This highly-acclaimed series from award-winning producers does not claim to offer a definitive history of the Iraq War or its people; rather it seeks to tell the stories of individuals from many sides of those conflicts – civilians, soldiers and journalists – allowing the audience to understand the impact of war on a personal level, and what it was like to live through key moments.”