Category : Iraq

Christianity is ‘over’ in Iraq, but ‘God is not dead despite terrible persecution,’ says ‘Vicar of Baghdad’

An eminent Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” has just presented two contrasting images of Christianity in Iraq.

First, in a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Canon Andrew White said Christianity is “over” in the region from which the faith originated.

However, on the same day, he posted a message on his Facebook page, saying, “God is not dead … despite the terrible persecution of much of the Church today in Iraq and the Middle East.”

White went on to say that God “is alive and doing the greatest things ever. Resurrections, healing and angels are part of daily life. We in the western world just do not know of the real majesty, glory and presence of Jesus.”

Read it all from Christian Today.

Posted in Iraq, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Economist) The Iraqi army is on the brink of defeating ISIS, but rebuilding will be a big challenge

Driving IS out of the city may come to be seen as the straightforward part, however. Judging by what has happened in east Mosul, rebuilding will be a slow process. Three months after their liberation, east Mosulites are getting fed up. They are still without running water, and the only electricity comes from private generators.

“We have security now, but no services at all,” complains Muhammad Ahmed, a pharmacist. “There is no government here.” The provincial governor lives in Erbil, a couple of hours’ drive away, partly along roads ploughed up by IS that show no sign of being repaired. No international agencies are to be seen in the recaptured city, bar a few clinics and some empty school satchels donated by UNICEF. The central government has failed to provide it with an emergency civilian administration, leaving it either to the army, which is otherwise occupied, or to the local government, which barely functions.

Mr Ahmed probably speaks for many when he recalls that in the days immediately after IS took control of Mosul, the jihadists were rather popular. The previous elected authorities had been corrupt and incompetent, and unable to deliver the basics. Electricity, he recalls, was available for just three hours a day. Under the caliphate the lights stayed on, at least until coalition air strikes began and then, shortly before losing control of east Mosul, IS blew up the city’s main power station and its water-pumping station.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq, Politics in General, Terrorism

(CNS) No future for Christians in Mosul, says Iraqi Christian leader

As some residents of the city of Mosul celebrate their new freedom from the Islamic State group, an Iraqi Christian leader who visited the war-torn city said Christian residents are unlikely to return.

“I don’t see a future for Christians in Mosul,” said Father Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Father Youkhana, who runs Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, a Christian program for displaced Iraqis around the city of Dohuk, entered Mosul in a military convoy on Jan. 27, the day Iraqi officials raised the national flag over the eastern part of the city. Islamic State seized the city in 2014, causing Christians and other minorities to flee.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Guardian) Archbishop of Canterbury intervenes to stop Iraqi's deportation

The archbishop of Canterbury has intervened in an attempt to prevent an Iraqi Christian who fled Islamic State jihadis from being returned to his home country.

Justin Welby wrote a letter in support of the man ahead of an appeal against his rejected asylum claim, saying he supported his application to remain in the UK.

Last week, a second letter was sent by the archbishop’s interfaith adviser, Mark Poulson, “unequivocally endors[ing]” an appeal for asylum by the man, who met him and the archbishop while working as a volunteer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Reuters) ISIS gone, Mosul district residents adjust to new life

Until three weeks ago, many of Abu Osama’s customers were Islamic State militants who brought their wives and children to his pharmacy on the eastern edge of Mosul for injections and treatment.

Now, most of them are Iraqi security forces who recaptured the Gogjali neighborhood earlier this month and are pushing further into the city, which has been under Islamic State control for more than two years.

As the militants retreat, civilians are adjusting to a new reality in their wake and a clearer picture is emerging of what they did to survive the punishments and deprivation of Islamic State rule.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Wa Po) ISIS has been a catastrophe for Sunnis in Iraq and Syria

The Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling.

The biggest losers, however, are not the militants, who will fulfill their dreams of death or slink into the desert to regroup, but the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage.

No religious or ethnic group was left unscathed by the Islamic State’s sweep through Iraq and Syria. Shiites, Kurds, Christians and the tiny Yazidi minority have all been victims of a campaign of atrocities, and they now are fighting and dying in the battles to defeat the militants.

But the vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam that the group claims to champion and whose interests the militants profess to represent. The vast majority of the 4.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamic State’s war are Sunnis. And as the offensives get underway to capture Mosul, Iraq’s biggest Sunni city, and Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, more Sunni towns and villages are being demolished, and more Sunni livelihoods are being destroyed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(NR) A Little Perspective on 2016, from a Documentary on Christian Persecution

This year’s presidential election may well be the most divisive in U.S. history, pitting liberals and conservatives against one another perhaps more bitterly than ever before, and the two major-party candidates seem in many ways to reflect cultural ills and political corruption that have been brewing for decades. On both the right and the left, countless citizens appear to believe that one candidate or the other will bring about the “end of America.” Conservatives argue that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will, among other things, transform the Supreme Court into a progressive super-legislature to impose its anti-democratic will for a generation. Meanwhile, liberals maintain that Republican nominee Donald Trump will deport millions of minorities and exacerbate existing racial tension to the detriment of less-privileged Americans.

It is easy to allow the evident failures of our political system ”” culminating in the simultaneous nomination of perhaps the two most dishonest, corrupt presidential nominees in U.S. history ”” to consume our focus and destroy our confidence in the future of our country. But as these seemingly endless debates absorb our attention and ongoing rancor pollutes our national dialogue, millions of people around the world face genocide, and they fear for their lives and those of their children.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, House of Representatives, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Senate, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Reuters) Two years of fear: Iraqi Christian widow survives ISIS

An elderly Christian widow who survived two years of Islamic State rule over her northern Iraqi town said the jihadists threatened to kill her, forced her to spit on a crucifix and made her stamp on an image of the Virgin Mary.

Zarifa Badoos Daddo, 77, was reunited with her family on Sunday after Iraqi forces drove Islamic State from Qaraqosh as they advanced on Mosul, the militants’ last major urban bastion in the country. The forces found her sheltering in a house they thought was abandoned or booby-trapped with explosives.

Most residents of Qaraqosh ”“ Iraq’s largest Christian town ”“ had fled toward the country’s autonomous Kurdish region more than two years ago as the jihadists approached, but Daddo stayed on with another elderly woman.

Her relatives had long feared she was dead.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Wa Po) Iraqi special forces enter Mosul over 2 years after ISIS seized the city

Iraqi commanders on Tuesday said they were fighting inside an industrial district on the outer edge of Mosul, making their first breach into the northern Iraqi city that has been under Islamic State control for more than two years.

Bringing the fight across the city lines does not change the overall challenges facing Iraqi troops trying to oust the militants from their last major stronghold in the country. But it reflects the steady advances by Iraqi soldiers and allied forces ”” backed by U.S. airstrikes ”” since the campaign to recapture Mosul was launched last month.

Soldiers from Iraq’s elite counterterrorism force said they had entered the neighborhood of Gogjali. From the village of Bazwaya, just four miles to the east, jets circled overhead and explosions could be heard from the front lines.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Middle East, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FP) For Iraqi Christians, a Bittersweet Homecoming

Christians are finally returning to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. In the courtyard, they find piles of shell casings and mannequin torsos riddled with bullet holes. The Islamic State fighters who held the building until just a few days ago used the space for target practice.

The cavernous interior of the church, the largest in Iraq, is charred and black. The floors are strewn with trash. Islamic State fighters destroyed the crosses and burned any religious books they could find. Now a man is searching through the rubble, salvaging scraps of manuscripts in Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus.

A small group of priests and local people gathers around the altar, and for the first time in two years, the sound of prayer fills the hall. Gunfire and shelling can still be heard not far away. A man goes up to the darkened altar and kisses it, shaking his head in disbelief at the level of destruction. One of the priests finds a few pieces of communion wafer and wraps them respectfully in paper. “This is Christ’s body, after all,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(WSJ) Mindy Belz: Can Iraq’s Christians Finally Go Home?

Mr. Anderson’s organization compiled a 300-page report at the request of the State Department documenting ISIS genocide of Christians in Iraq. Besides the toxic level of displacement, the report contains graphic detail confirming that at least 1,100 Christians have been murdered by Islamic militants in Iraq since 2003, though the number is almost certainly higher now. Yet U.S. officials seem to be ignoring these findings, even though the report pushed Washington to legally declare ISIS’s actions a “genocide.”

Exile is at the heart of the Christian message. The Old Testament Jews wandered in the wilderness and the savior Jesus Christ “had no place to lay his head.” His apostle Paul wrote four of his New Testament epistles from prison. The Christians in Iraq know this is their story, too. Yet being vanquished forever from this heartland is a terrible fate to contemplate.

Noura’s family is hopeful, but they’ve already lost everything””material possessions and friends and family””to ISIS. The tricycle photo is all that remains of Noura’s other life, and she had to download it from Facebook. She told me that “the hardest thing to lose is my memories.” But her future may be threatened too.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Crux) For Iraqi Christians, mix of hope and horror is a daily affair

As the Christian town of Bartella was being liberated from the Islamic State last week, Mona, a Christian student miles from the front line, was hiding under a bed with six other young women.

Sitting on the bed above, inches away, were six ISIS militants, engaged in the terrorist attack on Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk.

Mona’s story highlights the complexities of the situation Christians face in Iraq. On the one hand, long-Christian villages are being liberated. On the other hand, the threats are real, even in a city outside of ISIS control.

After hiding under the bed for three hours, the young Christian women in Kirkuk were able to escape out the back door when five of the six terrorists left, leaving one behind who was wounded. He later blew himself up with a suicide bomb.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(NPR) After ISIS, People From Mosul Fear What May Come Next

He says he expects chaos and violent retribution if ISIS is pushed out of Mosul. He fears that families who lost loved ones to the militants will take revenge not just on those who worked with ISIS, but on their whole families.

“There is no law, in the years to come,” he says. “The government is weak. I don’t trust these guys.”

He regards his life in Mosul as over. He never plans to go back, and says when he sits with his friends from Mosul in the nearby city of Irbil, they do not speak of home.

None of them will return, so reminiscence is painful.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Middle East, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Nancy Borrett Makes her Third Trip to Iraq–Convicted by Scripture, Compelled by Love

What compels a person to travel halfway across the world to care for refugees in the Kurdistan area of Iraq, or to take stuffed animals, candy and beads to kids in the last free village closest to ISIS-occupied territory? To be sure, Nancy has a global mindset and travel is not new to her. Her daughter, Ally, moved to China after graduating from college to teach English. Fortunately, sons Matt and Jacob and their families live in the U.S. But what’s interesting is that Nancy’s story could be your story, or the story of anyone who opens themselves to a God-driven chain of events and obeys God’s Word .I [Patti Wheat] interviewed Nancy after she returned from her recent trip with Jerry and Stacy Kramer, founders of Love for the Least (L4L).

Read it all (page 5).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Christology, Iraq, Middle East, Ministry of the Laity, Missions, Parish Ministry, Theology

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael–Give Christians in Iraq a say in their future

Christians in Iraq should be given independent rule or allowed to join a region of their choice in a post-war settlement, the leader of the country’s largest Church has suggested.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I says in a report this week that should Iraq be reclaimed from Islamic State, there should be an interim political settlement allowing Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain to become “self-administrative”.

Many of the Christians who have been forced to flee could return to their homes if Islamic State is defeated, he says.

He calls for a referendum to give Christians a choice on whether they want to be governed from Baghdad, to be part of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan or even place themselves under a “Sunni state”.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence