Nineveh’s Christians Celebrate Christmas Once Again 

December 25, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Muslims and Christians launch a campaign to clean up the churches (photograph: Omar Majid, January 2017)

Omar Majid

“We decided to hold the celebration of the birth of Jesus despite the damage caused to the church to prove to the world that terrorist attack won’t stop a people who want to do good,” said Tobia Petros Mouche,  the archbishop of Mosul raised a cross into the air and spoke to a congregation in the damaged church in Baghdida, 32 km to the southeast of Mosul.

“The damage caused to the Tahera cathedral is massive, it is burnt, and looted and there is nothing left in the cathedral to be of any use,” the archbishop told Kirkuknow.

The Christians of Nineveh plains once more celebrate Christmas after the overthrow of the Islamic State rule in the province. “I am very happy to be celebrating on my own land, in a town where I grew up,” Rami Abib Rabe told Kirkuknow. This young Christian man who has returned to the Mohandesin neighborhood in the north of Mosul said that when he was displaced celebration did not mean much but now because of a simple celebration, he feels everything has returned back to normal.

Iraqi special forces soldiers walk inside a church damaged by Islamic States fighters in Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq October 21, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Rami arrived in Bartella with his Muslim friend who had helped him to decorate the Christmas tree. “This is evidence that Mosul is a small version of Iraq where all live together despite religious and ideological differences and the relation between Muslims and Christians is much stronger.”

When the Islamic State militants arrived in Mosul they gave three options to the Christians: either to convert to Islam, pay a tax or leave the Caliphate. Many chose to leave the city and live in displacement camps.  Around 250 Muslim volunteers are currently busy cleaning the Christian churches of Nineveh plains.

The number of Christians in Iraq has dropped from 1.5 million to 200-300 thousand people.

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