An Iraqi Christian priest says he sees no hope for the Christians in Mosul while residents of the city of Mosul rejoice over freedom from the captivity of Islamic State. He said that Christians who had fled Mosul; may not return to their homes. “I don’t see a future for Christians in Mosul,” said Father Emanuel Youkhana, a priest of the Assyrian Church of the East.
Father Youkhana, who oversees a charity group Christian Aid Program in Northern Iraq, recently visited the ISIS-affected city Mosul on January 27. On the same day the Iraqi officials raised the national flag over the eastern part of Mosul. The city into the hands of Islamic State in 2014, which caused mass exodus of local Christians and other minorities.
Father Youkhana said that he was able to move freely within the city, as he went about talking to the residents about the situation. He visited two churches in Mosul, and reported that both had suffered severe damage as a result of the ISIS onslaught. “The churches were used as warehouses by Daesh,” he said.
“They used the churches to store what they looted from Christian and Yazidi villages, but as the end neared they sold the buildings to local contractors, who started tearing down the walls to reuse the steel inside. If the army hadn’t entered for another couple of weeks, the buildings might have been completely destroyed.”
Father Youkhana, also went through the city and photographed houses that once belonged to Christians. During the ISIS Caliphate, these houses were either sold or given to the remaining Muslims of the Mosul. He said that despite the fact that the ISIS has withdrawn from Mosul; return of Christians remains uncertain.
“After the reporting period, on March 17, 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that in line with his judgment, ISIL “is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians, and Shi’a Muslims [and] for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities,” reported United States of Commission for International Religious Freedom in its annual report of 2016.