“Faith is all we are left with” says an Iraqi Christian student

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An Iraqi Christian, who fled from the violence of Islamic State, says “faith is all we have left that ISIS couldn’t take from us.” 20-year-old, Sarmad Ozan, who fled from Iraq and is now currently living in UK, said “Islamic State took our city; our churches; our houses and women were sold into slavery like an object.”

Christian persecution in Iraq

The Iraqi Christian was addressing an assembly of more than 1, 100; narrated the ordeal he and his family had to go through while fleeing the terror group ISIS. In 2014, Mosul fell into the hands of ISIS, which declared its caliphate and decreed three options for minorities i.e. to convert to Islam, pay Jaziya or die. Christians of city had nowhere to go, he recalled.

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“We went from having a good healthy meal on our table every night to having to beg for food every day,” he said. “Faith is all we have left that ISIS couldn’t take from us,” he asserted. He said that his family and tens and thousands of Christians had to trek miles upon miles under the scorching sun to Erbil. These Christians including women and children fled without food or water leaving everything they had behind.

He told that Christians and others fleeing from Mosul were offered shelter at churches in Erbil, where he and his family took refuge at an overcrowded church, that they had to sleep under the sky. He said that from Erbil, he moved to the UK to pursue, a master’s degree in engineering. However, it has been a year and he has not been able to contact his family, he told the assembly. “I miss them every day. I miss everything about my old life,” he said.

“I feel safe in the UK. I can’t go back, I don’t have a home or any place in Iraq any more. My family were in Erbil when I left but I lost contact with them. They didn’t have any food,” he said. He is currently living in the UK under the asylum system. He said that the refugee crisis is tip of an ice burg. “It should not be split along political or faith lines, it is our responsibility as human beings to fight persecution and provide for the refugees in the Mediterranean.”