Christians are being encouraged to return to their homes in Mosul following further steps made to safeguard the community.
Father Michael took to the podium at St Paul’s Church in Mosul to be anointed as the first Archbishop since the city was liberated from ISIS in July 2016 by the Iraqi Army. This occasion represented a turning point for the Christian communities of Nineveh Province, who had suffered terribly under the rule of ISIS in the region for 3-4 years. The rehabilitation of Christian institutions in the province bodes well for the return of Christians from Nineveh to their homes.
“This occasion marks a noble message from our Christian brothers to all our people living abroad and other provinces to return and live in peace with their Muslim brothers in this precious city, the city of the prophets, the righteous, and the saints of all religions. People must return to the province. ISIS has hurt us, it killed and destroyed, but we must respond to it with a message of peace and brotherhood and trust among us”, said a member among the attendees of the Archbishop’s ordination.
Since the expulsion of ISIS from Mosul and Nineveh Province, Muslims and Christians have come together on a number of occasions to combat the hate speech and discriminatory ideology that led to the rise of ISIS.
For instance, Muslims had organised a mass at St Paul’s Church for Christians around one and a half years ago as a gesture marking peaceful inter-communal coexistence.
Similar gestures were made across the province, including in Bakhdida (Hamdaniya/Qaraqosh), where Muslim academics and activists visited churches and attended mass.
Even during ISIS , Muslims risked their lives to save ancient Christian manuscripts that belong to the Chaldean Tahera Church in western Mosul, the former base of the terrorist group for the whole of Iraq.
Fears still remain present among the Christians of Iraq as many consider elements of the ideology that exists among the ranks of ISIS to still constitute a threat to minority groups. However, occasions such as the ordination of Father Michael at St Paul’s brings hope to a community that has been on the brink.