Christian Towns Liberated From ISIS: In Pictures

On Monday 17 October 2016 Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Abadi announced an historic operation to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State. Since then, the advance of Iraqi, Kurdish, and allied forces against Islamic State has proceeded far quicker than expected.

Christians towns such as Qaraqosh, Bartella and Karamles have all been liberated from Islamic State forces.

Open Doors received photos and video from the frontline, as church leaders returned to their villages and churches for the first time. They restored fallen crosses, salvaged ancient Christian manuscripts and rang the church bells in celebration!

QARAQOSH

Cross pulled down on the top of a church in Qaraqosh.

Cross pulled down on the top of a church in Qaraqosh.

A church tower looks ready to collapse in Qaraqosh.

A church tower looks ready to collapse.

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Mosul Liberation: Why It’s Significant To Christians

Mosul was Iraq’s second largest city before the Islamic State conquered it in June 2014. Right now the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces are embarking on an operation to liberate the city.

“For the first time in 1,600 years, there has been no Mass said in Mosul today.” – Archbishop of Erbil, June 2014.

Mosul’s Significance To Christians

Mosul was home to one of the largest Christian communities in Iraq before the 2003 invasion by US and coalition forces. Prior to the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq had a Christian population of 1.5 million. By 2003 this had dropped 850,000 and now we estimate this to be around 250,000.

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30 Minutes To Leave Mosul

It was a hot afternoon in Mosul. When Amer* turned on his mobile phone, it seemed to explode with messages and missed calls.

“Haven’t you heard? You are a Christian. If you don’t leave Mosul by 12 midday you will be killed unless you convert.”

Amer’s heart raced. It was 11.30 am. 

It was June 2014 in Mosul, Amer’s hometown. Islamic State, then known as ISIS, had swiftly taken over his city. Christian houses were marked with an ‘N’ for Nasrani – meaning Christian, and scores of Christians left the city right away.

Images: Click image to read caption.

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Creating Jobs – Suaad From Iraq

This blog was written by Emma, an Open Doors Australia worker.

Meet Suaad:

Suaad Has Been A Tailor In Iraq Since The 1980s.

I met Suaad when I travelled to Iraq earlier this year. Suaad has worked as a tailor since the 1980s, in Mosul. In 2014, Islamic State militants forced her to leave her home overnight. Now Suaad is staying with her brother and his family in a city in northern Iraq. She’s a widow and has no children, and hasn’t been able to return to her town.

She said, “I feel heavy inside, not knowing what has happened to my town. But one thing I do know—God is still there. Whatever other people have done to us, God is the one in charge.” Continue reading

Iraq: A Bakery With A Difference

Ghazan was a successful business owner, he owned a transportation company. That was back in his home town, on the Nineveh Plain in Iraq. He left his home when Islamic State forced them out. Now, the 47-year-old father of three works at a bakery in Erbil.

The first person you see when you walk down this busy shopping street is Ghazan. With his head sticking through the shop window, he is waiting for his next customer. When a customer arrives he skilfuly fills a plastic bag with ‘samoon’, traditional Iraqi bread. “Please try some!” he says. Anyone would think he had been a baker his whole life!

Ghana from the bakery.

Ghazan in the window of the bakery.

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Iraq – 5 Ways We Are Helping Christians

The church in Iraq is disappearing, with more than 70% of the Christian population having left the country over the last 15 years. It’s estimated that there are only 250,000 Christians left in Iraq, over half of them are displaced. 

This situation will take generations to heal and rebuild. Open Doors were working with the church in Iraq well before the rise of the Islamic State and, God willing, will be there for many years to come.

We want to help strengthen the church in Iraq, so for the month of August we are asking for donations to Iraq. We have a goal of $200,000 and need your help to reach this goal. Click here to donate to the Iraq Appeal.

Your donation to our Iraq Appeal will support Christians with things like:

1. Emergency Relief (Food, Healthcare & Housing)

Food and hygiene packs for Iraqi IDPs.

Food and hygiene packs for Iraqi IDPs.

Through local partners and churches, Open Doors distributes food/hygiene packages to about 15,000 displaced Christian families (about 75,000 people) each month. Providing quality food, clean water, sanitation and healthcare is the first step in ensuring the survival of the church. Continue reading

Islamic State defeated in Fallujah – what does it mean for Christians?

A view is seen of streets in Falluja. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

A view is seen of streets in Falluja. Photo: REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

On Monday 23 May, the government offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah from Islamic State began. Five weeks later, on Sunday 26 June, the Iraqi government declared the city fully liberated and back in government control. 

They have now set their eyes on liberating Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said of the Iraqi flag, “God willing, soon it will be flying in Mosul.” Continue reading