The heads of four families – one Christian, one Yazidi, one Sabian, and one Arab Muslim – talk about their fears and hopes. All four fled Mosul and region in 2014 when the Islamic state seized them. Now they wish to live together again, and rebuild an atmosphere of togetherness and harmony. No one is exempt from Islamic fanaticism. Only God can heal us and be a source of salvation.
Erbil – Refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain are trying to rebuild their life putting behind the violence carried out by the Jihadi militias of the self-styled caliphate, watching from afar the liberation of their cities, towns, and villages, including Mosul. They also want to rebuild togetherness and harmony after years of war and the madness of the Islamic State (IS), nurtured by the reasonable hope that only peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, and mercy can heal the wounds of the past.
Four of them spoke with Fr Samir Youssef, each from a distinct faith and ethnic group. Zaenl is a Yazidi from Sinjar, Emad is a Christian from Mosul, Abad is a Sabian from Qaraqosh, and Omar Abu Lukman is an Arab Muslim from Sinjar.
Fr Samir is the pastor in a parish in the diocese of Zakho and Amadiya (Kurdistan). Ever since the emergency situation developed in the summer of 2014, he has played a leading role in caring for 3,500 displaced Christian, Muslim, and Yazidi families who fled their homes and land to escape the Jihadis.
From this experience of pain and suffering, we must learn and make sure that evil does not bring divisions among us. Extremism and fanaticism are bad for everyone. No one has been spared the violence of Islamic fanaticism in recent years. God alone can heal us and be a source of salvation.
Iraq is the heart of the world and if we cannot live together, the rest of the world will face a difficult path to coexistence. Without peace in Iraq, the world will not have peace of mind. We must come out of this experience stronger and promote the message of peace and brotherhood in the world.
With this in mind, Fr Samir, Iraq’s bishops, and AsiaNews want to relaunch the “Adopt a Christian from Mosul” campaign for this Christmas to help buy kerosene, shoes, winter clothes, and material for the local school.
Here is the second part of their accounts and stories. For the first part, click here. For the videos, scroll down.
What prospects do you see for your country? Are you waiting for its liberation?
Zaenl: We all hope so. We see battles (from a distance) and we hope that we can soon return to our land. There is no one who does not love their land.
Emad: We are waiting for liberation. We watch the battle unfold on television; we follow the news. We want to go back because this is our land and the land of our fathers, who have shed their blood for it. Certainly, we feel bad seeing all our churches and homes torched and destroyed, but we are ready to rebuild everything again. I love my land.
Abas: I am in touch and can communicate via phone with some people who are personally experiencing the fighting. I hope to go back again and start to live together again.
Omar Abu Lukman: Fr Samir, you like the Muslims, are waiting for the lands to be liberated so that we can start a new life. Muslims who have killed people did wrong and will be punished for this. But with the others, we can start to live together. Let us learn from history, from the past, because as believers we must trust in mercy and love. We shall return to living together, begin to do so again, and God willing [Inshallah] our land will be liberated, and we will become brothers, putting the past behind. We shall turn a new page, forgive one another and ask forgiveness from all of you. Let us ask God to forgive us all.
From what you know how is the situation in the liberated areas, such as Sinjar?
Zaenl: The pictures that arrive are dreadful and hurt. Temples, churches, schools, hospitals, almost everything in Sinjar has been destroyed. The damage is not only in the city but also in almost all of the 20 villages that surround it. I went in person and saw my home destroyed. The Islamic state has also built many tunnels under the city.
Emad: We looked with a lot of sadness to the pictures of our torched churches in Basheqa and Mosul; our family home in Basheqa was looted and sacked. They burnt everything.
Abas: I went to Qaraqosh and felt sick. Everything was destroyed: our temples, the churches, the sanatorium of Saint Barbara, which is loved by everyone, and the hospital. There are many tunnels under the city. The pictures have hit us, but we also hope that we can rebuild everything. I wondered around Qaraqosh for a long time, but I could not see my house because it was destroyed. I cried as I looked at the devastation.
Omar Abu Lukman: I saw my house again. It was there, like the others, made from our earth.
What do you expect from the future? Can we go back to living together?
Zaenl: That’s what we hope, especially for us Yazidis of Sinjar. We suffered a lot. We had more than 9,000 hostages and dead, many of them children; women and girls used as sex tool. (At this point Fr Samir mentioned the pope’s words about mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and the just ended Jubilee Year). Of course, this is our hope; only the Lord will help us.
Emad: I was filled with hope when I saw the cross restored on the church tower in Basheqa, after the Islamic state had destroyed the old one. I felt a lot of joy when I saw our priests pray inside the church again, after two and a half years. Such a tragedy had already occurred 100 years ago, when they killed us and chased us away. But we came back and we started again.
Abas: As you say, abouna (father in Arabic, referring to Fr Samir), we believe that we can only live with love and only love can win. The world without love is meaningless. We hope that we can clear away all this past and start anew.
Omar Abu Lukman: Of course we can start again; this is our hope. Thank you to you for making us believe in the language of love. Because our men and our leaders do not use these words; they do not talk like this.
Source: Asia News