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26 September 2011
*IRAQ: No place for Christian families, Part II*
by David Hovde
In April 2011, Bassam William and his family lived in a Shia neighborhood in
Baghdad. Some of their neighbors, who in the past had visited with them,
eaten with them, and spent time with them in their house, later told William
and his family that there was no place for Christians in that neighborhood
and that he and his family would have to leave the neighborhood and the
country. On 17 April 2011, William found a note on his car from Kataa'ib
Saraya Al Haq (Righteousness Brigade), a militia that broke away from the
Mahdi Army. Kataa'ib Saraya Al Haq receives training in Iran and targets
Americans and Christians. In the letter, they used profanity to threaten
William's family. The letter said that they had to leave this Muslim
country immediately or they would kill all his family members, and that there
was no place for Christians Baghdad.
After two days, William and his family left Baghdad, leaving their house and
furniture behind. They heard that people could go to Syria and stay there
for up to three years while applying for asylum in another country. William
went to Syria to try to apply for asylum. He heard of people who had been
there for three years, spent up all their money and had not been given asylum
in another country. He decided to move with his family to Suleimaniya in
the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
William and his family now live in Suleimaniya in a crowded apartment and
sleep on the floor. He does not have a job. His wife, Maha Mashalla,
sometimes travels all the way back to Baghdad to work. Though his family
receives some financial assistance, it is not enough to cover the rent.
They desperately want to find asylum in another country.
William says there used to be 1,500,000 Christians in Iraq. Now there are
about 300,000. The churches in Baghdad are guarded by troops or behind
walls now. William says that someday there may really be no more Christians
CPT's MISSION: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline
and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian
Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized,
nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in
regions of lethal conflict.
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