An Iraqi Christian lawmaker Josef Sleve has stated that about 1.5 million Christians left Iraq since 2003 when the U.S. invaded the country. Talking to a news agency, he said that majority of Christians had fled due to worsening security situation, and extremism.
Josef Sleve stated: “The number of Christians living in the country now stands at between 500,000 and 850,000.” Further explaining the situation he added: “This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have immigrated to other countries.”
MP Josef went on to assert that exodus of Christians from Iraq has amplified. He said that since the time when terror group ISIS had captured cities and towns in western and northern Iraq, Christian population has decreased in the country. He mentioned that the terror group had committed countless atrocities against the Christians.
“As of November 2016, the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition had recaptured approximately 56 percent of the territory ISIS previously held in Iraq. Ramadi and Fallujah were recaptured in February and June, respectively, and the liberation of Nineveh Province is a continuing process. The ongoing Mosul offensive remains the most critical part of the battle against ISIS, as Mosul, the third-largest city in Iraq, is a Sunni Arab-dominated city in the midst of a diverse province, home to many of Iraq’s minority communities,” United States Commission for International Religious Freedom states in its annual report of 2017.
“The Christian population of Mosul largely fled in 2014 during the early days of the group’s takeover of Nineveh Province, and has not been able to return. ISIS fighters marked homes and businesses once owned by Christians with the letter “ن) “the letter “N” in Arabic, which is used to indicate “Nasara,” the Arabic term for Christians originating from the term “Nazarene”).
According to several Christian groups that document ISIS crimes, at least 33 churches in and around the city were burned and/or partially or completely destroyed. Those that were not destroyed were used as ISIS military bases or administrative buildings,” USCIRF detailed.