Iraq: Christians return to ransacked town amid fear and hope

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Christians of Qaraqosh, return to their town amid fear and hope. Now that the ISIS militants have been driven away from the town, the residents of the town are now returning to their destroyed houses, as they hope to restart their lives in Qaraqosh- a predominantly Christian town.

Christian persecution in Middle East

As they return, some of them have expressed fear and anxiety about their security and future. After return, Christians have taken up the task of not only re-constructing their houses but also clearing up the churches’ buildings. ISIS militants during their o and half year rule had daubed graffiti inside churches and other buildings.

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The churches were desecrated by the ISIS militants, as well as used as their go-downs. A local Christian revealed that Islamic slogans are daubed on the walls of churches torched by the ISIS. “We are afraid of this, of tensions,” said Girgis Youssif, a church worker. “We want to live in peace and demand security,” he said.

However, security checkpoints have been established and volunteer force patrols areas inside the town. Thus far, at least 10 Christian families have returned to their town- what used to be largest community of Christians in Iraq until it fell into the hands of ISIS back in 2014.

In October, last year the Iraqi forces were able to push the militants out of Qaraqosh, however the residents are still hesitant to return. Iraqi Army and police have been trying to ensure security of Christians as they stationed soldiers in front of churches. The security forces also helped Christian volunteers to set up a massive cross at Qaraqosh’s entrance.

Recently, on the occasion of Palm Sunday, April 9, soldiers escorted a procession in preparation for Easter. The security forces had provided for chairs for the congregants during the mass. Some of the Christian policemen also started singing hymns with the congregants. However, some Christians are still fearful to return to Qaraqosh. “The security measures are not sufficient,” said a Christian of Qaraqosh. “We want security to surround the town.”