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Features > A sanctuary of sorts

28 August 2014 | by Gerard Russell

A sanctuary of sorts

 
Iraqi Christians fled their ancestral homes in Mosul and Nineveh in fear of Islamic State. A former diplomat, who has toured their refugee camps in Kurdistan, describes here why he believes the community may yet survive Last time I visited Ankawa in 2011, it was a quiet and prosperous Christian suburb of Erbil, the Iraqi Kurds’ bustling capital. A blue-and-white statue of the Virgin Mary welcomed visitors arriving into the suburb. Although Ankawa was surrounded by majority-Muslim Erbil, it had retained its Christian character partly because, by decree of the Muslim president of Kurdistan, no non-Christian can buy property there. The relative stability offered by Kurdish protection, and the chance to get employment in one of Iraq’s few remaining islands of prosperity, had turn




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