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Tuesday 20 April |

Fearful Christians return to their desecrated churches in Iraq

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 04/14/17

From Reuters: 

With Islamic State expelled, Iraqi Christians are trickling back to the ransacked town of Qaraqosh, beset by anxiety for their security and yet hopeful they can live in friendship with Muslims of all persuasions. The town, about 20 km (12 miles) from the battlefront with Islamic State in the northern city of Mosul, shows why Christians have mixed feelings about the future of their ancient community. In the desecrated churches of Qaraqosh, Christians are busy removing graffiti daubed by the Sunni Muslim militants during two and a half years of control – only for new slogans to have appeared, scrawled by Shi’ite members of the Iraqi forces fighting street to street with the jihadists in Mosul. But nearby a shopkeeper is doing a brisk trade selling Dutch beer, Greek ouzo and several whisky brands to Christians, Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds alike, with this kind of commerce perhaps offering a glimpse of how Iraq’s fractured communities could again live together peacefully. Encouraged by security checkpoints and patrols by a volunteer force, up to 10 Christian families have returned to what used to be the minority’s biggest community in Iraq until Islamic State seized it in 2014. …On Palm Sunday last weekend, soldiers escorted a procession in preparation for Easter, Christianity’s most important festival, and provided chairs for worshippers during Mass. Some Christian policemen joined in, singing “Hallelujah” with civilians. But walking along rows of burnt out homes and supermarkets, others were still afraid. “The security measures are not sufficient,” said Hatti, the photographer. “We want security to surround the town.”

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