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Iraqi priest: "We must even forgive those who led ISIS to our homes"

2017-04-25

This is the moment when a huge cross rises near Teleskuf, one of the Nineveh plain's villages, that has invaded by ISIS jihadists for years.

Father Karam, who now studies in Italy with a scholarship, comes from this town. In fact, he was about to travel to Europe when ISIS arrived at the doors of his house. 

FR. KARAM QASHA
Iraqi priest
"I presided at my last mass in my town to bid farewell to my parishioners. It was Sunday. Within a few hours we knew they were very close to us and that we had to leave. "

All his people were able to flee before the Jihadists arrived. And although they had to leave everything behind there is something that they never lost along the way and that has nourished their hope while they have lived away from their homes.

FR. KARAM QASHA
Iraqi priest
"When I see my parishioners I see they are not so sad. They feel the pain of having lost everything, but having saved their faith has given them happiness, hope, trust in God in whose hands we have always felt. "

Father Karam says that the arrival of ISIS is the latest episode of a long series of outbreaks of violence against Christians. He himself was able to verify the degree of destruction caused by the terrorists in his hometown.

But life has returned here thanks to 250 families who have returned after the liberation. And with them the Christian ceremonies celebrated even today in the same language that Jesus spoke.

FR. KARAM QASHA
Iraqi priest
"The extremists came to erase us from our land, to eliminate our existence from our land. But we give thanks to God because we have been able to escape alive, to flee by taking our faith."

The Nineveh plain is being liberated little by little by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, but the great question for Christians is not only whether they will be able to return to their homes, but how life will be with their Muslim neighbors from now on.

FR. KARAM QASHA
Iraqi priest
"We have to forgive them but we can not forget that they also have to take a step forward." FLASH "We consider that they have destroyed our confidence, because those who were our neighbors, are the first that have betrayed us. They are those who have come to steal our houses, are the ones who have guided the ISIS to us. It is difficult for us to live again as before, but we have to work to get it because we are Christians. We have to rebuild this trust even though it is very, very difficult."

That will be one of the main challenges of post-ISIS Iraq. Another is to protect religious minorities so that they will never again be victims of another genocide like this.


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