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After ISIS Defeat, Iraqi Christians Aspire for Peace

After ISIS Defeat, Iraqi Christians Aspire for Peace

Tuesday, 26 December, 2017 - 08:00
Iraqi Christians attend a mass at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on October 25, 2016. (AFP)

Amid a calm atmosphere that prevailed from Mosul in the north to Basra in the south, Iraq’s Christians celebrated on Monday the Christmas holiday away from the fear of ISIS that plagued them in the past three years.

Iraqi MP Joseph Saliwa told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was happy with the positive atmosphere during this year’s holiday celebrations, which reflect a desire expressed by all Iraqis to live in peace and clam.

However, the deputy said that the situation in Iraq was not completely stable in given the lingering ISIS ideology that needs to be removed from several parts of the country.

For his part, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq party and head of the National Iraqi Alliance demanded on Monday that Christians be treated equally in Iraq, particularly following the oppression they suffered from at the hands of ISIS.

In a statement issued by his office, Hakim said that the Christmas celebration this year is an important occasion to express attachment to the Christian presence in Iraq.

In Mosul, which since 2014 and up until a few months ago was devoid of all signs of life under ISIS rule, Christians celebrated Christmas amid a secure atmosphere.

Amid tight security measures, a Christmas mass was held at the Chaldean church in Mosul for the first time since ISIS was defeated in the area.

“Christian celebrations in Mosul and other cities express a true hope of overcoming the crisis in Iraq,” Rayan al-Kaldani, commander of the Babylon Movement, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He added that following the liberation, there is a need that all Christian refugees return to their homes in the coast of Nineveh. He revealed that Christian families are still trapped in the Tel Eskof area, which is controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

According to local analysts, around 90 percent of Christians had fled Mosul since the US forces invaded Iraq in 2003.

“Between 70 to 80 Christian families have already returned to Mosul. They will be followed by others,” said Duraid Hikmat Tobiya, advisor for minorities in the governorate of Nineveh.

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