Christians are returning to Iraq’s Nineveh Plains after being driven out by ISIS forces two years ago.
According to Catholic News Agency, Christians in Bashiqa, Iraq are again celebrating Mass in the Church of Mar Korkeis after a forced two-year hiatus.
When the Islamic State took over and attempted to establish their caliphate, Christians and other minorities were forced to either flee or pay the jizya tax. Some were even killed.
ISIS has lost most of the territory they originally took over. The city of Mosul is their last major stronghold. The battle for Mosul is still raging.
For Bashiqa, and other Iraqi towns, however, relief has finally come and Christian refugees are moving back to their homeland and are eager to restore their churches.
A new crucifix was placed in the Church of Mar Korkeis to replace the one destroyed by ISIS.
Christianity has been present in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq since the first century. Church leaders in the region had warned that the faith was in danger of being wiped out by ISIS, but now many are hopeful that Christians will return and bring their faith with them.
Although ISIS has been driven out of many areas they formerly controlled, Iraqi and Kurdish forces are warning Iraqis that many areas are still dangerous due to explosives and mines.
“We want people to be patient and not to return here until we completely clear the area, as we want to ensure their safety,” Kurdish Peshmerga Brigadier General Mahram Yasin told Reuters.
Fr. Afram, the priest of the parish, said that he hopes the city will remain under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) rather than the Iraqi Government as the KRG has been much more involved locally.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 28, 2016