Iraqi Christians have welcomed the start of the Mosul offensive on Sunday to liberate Iraq’s second largest city from the Islamic State group, The Tablet reports. Mosul was taken over by the Islamic State two years ago.
“They’ve been waiting for this day after being forced out in the summer of 2014, and many Christians have been living in very miserable conditions since. A number are eager to go back,” Father Emanuel Youkhana claimed.
Iraqi Christians view the military offensive with hope and fear. Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, said, “Everything is complicated. Still, we are waiting for what will happen after Daesh (the Arabic slang name for Islamic State), because maybe those criminals will be thrown out of Iraq, but the mentality remains in those who welcomed them.”
Mosul was previously home to more than 2 million people and about half of the population left on foot or by car after a small group of Islamic State fighters claimed the city. About 70,000 Assyrian Christians lived in Mosul and those who stayed after ISIS moved in have been forced to pay a tax for remaining Christian.
An Assyrian priest asked for prayers as the battle against ISIS begins. “Let us pray for political stability post-ISIS, which is the main challenge. Let us pray for the protection of the properties and infrastructure,” called Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, head of the Christian Aid Program in Northern Iraq (CAPNI).
However, some members of the country’s minorities are doubtful of the government’s operation. Some of the remaining Christians have formed a group to defend Christian towns and villages. Behnam Abboush, a member of one of Iraq’s many religious and ethnic minorities, said he won’t feel any safer if Iraqi forces drive Islamic State out of Mosul. He explained that some members of his community were abandoned to their fate when the jihadists wreaked havoc to their city.
“If there was a strong central government we would need nothing. If you want to solve the problem, we must have a protection force,” Abboush, an engineer and former air defense officer under Saddam Hussein, said.
Digital virtue – w: wwwdigitalvirtuecom. (2016). Thetabletcouk. http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/6276/0/iraqi-christians-welcome-mosul-offensive-but-still-fear-the-aftermath
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