I just googled Christians in Iraq and a photo of President Obama playing golf was the first news item that came up.
I’m sorry, but that’s our problem. We act as if everything is the same old political bickering until someone gets hurt. We notice a difference when we are attacked — but here at home. That stops us, obviously.
We pay attention when Ted Cruz or Rand Paul take to the floor of the Senate and read the phone book or otherwise talk until we’re sick of them and/or the news coverage. We notice a difference when Eric Cantor loses when few saw it coming. But everything’s pretty much same-old otherwise. Cynical, yawning, back to our hardened sides or indifference.
But when people are suffering and dying how can we be so comfortable ignoring it – whether they be innocent unborn children or elderly in the hospital or clinic closest to us or families hoping for a better life or Christians refusing to surrender to intolerance or militant Islamic tyranny?
Is this who we are?
Let the president play golf if it helps him take his job seriously and see clearly. Pray that’s how it works.
Meanwhile, this comes from a blog post from the Dominican Sisters of Catherine of Siena in Iraq:
So far, 510 families have been displaced from Mosul. Some were fortunate to leave before the deadline ISIS set as they were able to take their belongings with them. However, 160 families of them left Mosul with only their clothes on; everything they had was taken away from them.
These families are in so much need of help and support. People in Christian towns that received these refugees opened their homes to provide shelters and food for them, as much as they could. People are strongly willing to help, but the fact that they did not have their salaries for two months (June- July) makes it extremely difficult for them to offer more. As the salaries of government employees in areas under ISIS control are being suspended. Additionally, because of the present situation in Mosul and the whole province (of Nineveh) the economy of the state is suffering, which naturally affects everyone. Since the tension started in Mosul, many people lost their jobs as 99% of jobs stopped, which means there is hardly any money to be used let alone loaning to those who are in need. This is not only in the province of Nineveh, but also in Erbil. Moreover, all Christians in the plain of Nineveh have not received their food supplement, which the government used to provide via the smart ration card. This is causing a crisis not only for the refugees, but also for the residents in the area.
However, the church is calling people to open their homes for refugees as there are some families staying in Church’s halls with limited space and public services in Nineveh plain. But in Karakosh, residents and churches are collaborating. Residents are welcoming refugees in their homes and churches are providing for them; therefore, refugees prefer to come to Karakosh. Additionally, the church, with the help of Christian endowment, is planning to provide caravans as kind of accommodations for the time being. This project, however, seems to take longer time than expected.
As you perhaps know, concerning the situation in Mosul, the Islamic State has a policy in governing the city. After displacing the Christians, they started their policy concerning the holy places that angered people. So far, the churches are under their control; crosses have been taken off. But we are not sure about the extent of the damaged done in them. In addition to that, few mosques have been affected, too. The ISIS destroyed two mosques with their shrines last week: the mosque of Prophet Sheeth (Seth) and the mosque of the Prophet Younis, or Jonah, said to be the burial place of Jonah. The militants claim that such mosques have become places for apostasy, not prayer. This was really too painful for all people as Jonah’s shrine was considered as a monument. Also, it was a historical place as it was built on an old church. Destroying such places is a destruction of our heritage and legacy.
Besides, ISIS is setting some rules that even Mosul residents cannot tolerate. Like forcing young people to join them, preventing women to go out, and enforcing the strict interpretation of Islamic law.
People in towns around Mosul are afraid that ISIS would extend their control after the Muslim Feast holidays. This period of Muslim feast was a kind of intermission, but no one knows what to expect next. In fact, they have already started. The ISIS are extending their controlled zone. Yesterday (Aug 3) there were encounters between ISIS and Pashmerga outside of Mosul to the north. Meanwhile, the central government is attacking the ISIS in Mosul. Most of Christians in towns of Batnaya and Telkaif have left their homes because they are very close to Mosul. The situation in Karkush in the present time is calm. But this causes fear and horror among Christians and that’s why some families from Karkush are leaving to Kurdistan, some have plans to leave the country, and some are staying. This in any case weakens Christians feeling of belonging to the country.
We are surprised that some countries of the world are silent about what is happening. We hoped that there would be stronger international approach toward Iraq, and Christians in Iraq in general.
As for us as a community, our sisters in Batnaya and Telkaif had to leave the town with 99% of people who left because of violence outside the town.
These are images we could afford to have to take a look at and bear in mind:
In an earlier post, a Dominican friar in Iraq urged attention be heeded and offered practical advice, some of which remains timely and important:
It is a humanitarian disaster. I have witnessed a hard time and a bitter history of my country and especially my beloved Church. The monster of our time (ISIS) maims all without mercy. When I see Christians persecuted in my country, humiliated and driven from their homes, it really hurt my heart. In addition, before the genocide of Christians in Iraq, there is a total silence from the international community. The fate of Christians rests between humiliation and departure, what misery! At this time of disruption, sometimes, I receive words or an email to give me a little courage, that’s nice. But now, I would like at this time to offer a practical approach from someone who is in a chaotic situation and who really needs support.
In the midst of this precarious situation, what can we do?
1) Awaken the world and public opinion by your cries in the media, press, demos, interviews, conferences. You have to talk incessantly and present our situation without fear.
2) In my humble opinion, there are international non-governmental organizations and also organizations of civil society in the world, we should contact them and encourage them to help us.
3) Conferences of Catholic bishops all over the world and especially in countries which have weight in the UN, can help us if they wish.
4) The Order could do something for us through its representative at the United Nations, brother Mike Deep, OP.
5) This is the time when you all have to live the Gospel with us not only in words but also in deeds. The power of prayer is important but gestures are also good.
6) If you know politicians and business people of goodwill, get in contact with them and share our situation with them. They could be useful at this time because we are in a deplorable situation.
7) Whatever happens next, our responsibility to our Saviour is to continue his work in Iraq which began over 2000 years ago. Our church in Iraq desperately wants to continue her mission not only because it is small but more because it is so hurt right now and needs a good Samaritan! Where is he/she?!!!
8) If you have some time you can read this book Les Chrétiens aux bêtes by Jacques Rhétoré speaking about the massacres of Christians by the Ottoman centuries ago. History is repeating itself today in Iraq.