14 April 2022, The Tablet

The Christians working to resurrect a future in Iraq

Since Daesh’s defeat, Christian communities have invested heavily in education.

The Christians working to resurrect a future in Iraq

Armed security outside Sts Peter and Paul Chaldean Catholic Church, Ankawa, Erbil
Photo: © Aid to the Church in Need


Twenty years ago, there were more than a million Christians in Iraq. Persecuted by Daesh, perhaps fewer than 150,000 remain. But now this ancient community is rebuilding itself from the rubble and coming back to life

“I am happy to be back – really, it’s true. I am so glad to be home again. It’s the place where I want to live.” Primary school teacher Bushra Maty looks around her with an air of confidence in the future. I met Bushra, her sister, Nadia, and Bushra’s nine-year-old daughter, Viola, after evening Mass at Al-Tahira Church in the heart of Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains.

How times have changed. When I last stood on this spot in late 2017, the church was a blackened shell. Its crosses, statues and other sacred art had been defaced and there was abusive anti-Christian graffiti on the walls. This desecration was the work of Daesh militants who in August 2014 had entered Qaraqosh and other towns and villages in Nineveh, sending the local inhabitants into the night, many with no more than the clothes on their backs. Today, the militants had been defeated and many of the Christians had returned. They were rebuilding not only their damaged homes but their entire lives.


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