» 09/19/2014, 00.00
Mosul, the Islamic State "bans Christians from school"
Archbishop Nona tells AsiaNews, an entire "generation is in danger of not being educated". The schools turned into shelters, cannot accommodate lessons. The Church is racing against the clock to find housing, but only a fraction of the institutions will be able to resume activities. In the city and Nineveh plain population is increasingly hostile to the Islamist militias, 98% want "their expulsion."
Ankawa (AsiaNews) - For the first time in history, Iraqi
Christians who always had a "high standard of education" in the region, are
being deprived of the right to study and cannot attend schools. This represents
a further threat to the survival of the minority, not only in Iraq but throughout
the Middle East, because there is not the risk that an entire generation "will
not be educated", which is a "very bad sign". The warning comes from Msgr. Shimoun Emil Nona, Chaldean Archbishop
of Mosul, in the north, the second most important city in the country and first
city to fall into the hands of the militia of the Islamic State.
Interviewed by AsiaNews, the prelate confirms that
"currently children from many of the refugee families" as well as "children
who live in Christian areas" cannot start the school year. "There are
about 700 schools scattered between Erbil, Ankawa and Zakkho - he explains - but
they are hosting displaced people and are full. In other non-Christian areas the lessons have begun, but not here". Moreover
in the areas occupied by the Islamic Caliphate the curriculum has been changed to promote Islam
and the Koran.
Msgr. Nona was the first to
raise the alarm of the danger posed by the advance of the Islamists after
the conquest of Mosul, where
about 500 thousand people - Muslims and Christians - fled in early June
to avoid being forced to convert to Islam.
It was also where the militants founded their caliphate
and imposed sharia. In cities and in areas on the Nineveh plain that
are under the control of the Islamic State schools have reopened. However, under
the instruction of their leader the curriculum has changed to ban history,
geography and literature; students must study Arabic and the Muslim religion
and are forbidden to speak of the Republic of Iraq or Syria, only of the Caliphate.
An Mosul elementary school teacher of mathematics and Arabic
states that "we are in 2014, but it seems have regressed 14 centuries."
95% of the 2,450 schools in the area - Mosul and Nineveh Plain - are in the
hands of the Islamists, who have forbidden mixed classes and have closed the Faculty
of Law, because "conventional law is no longer in force." Rigid rules,
imposed by force, are increasingly arousing the impatience of the local population.
If at first people saw them as liberators from a central government (under former
Shiite Prime Minister al-Maliki) regarded as the oppressor, today 98% of the people
- as reported by an academic in Mosul - "would like to see them gone as
soon as possible" .
The archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee Ankawa, in
Iraqi Kurdistan, cannot confirm this radical change of attitude towards the
Islamic state and the distortion of the curriculum at the hands of the militia.
He admits however, to "having heard similar rumors", and there is a good
chance that "they are true." There are still some Christians in the
city, but "very few" who live "isolated" and "in danger"
because "anything could happen to them".
Msgr. Nona asks us to pray for a situation "which is
growing more dramatic with every passing day" especially with the arrival of
winter. This interruption in the schooling
of young Christians is a serious problem, because it halts the development of an
entire generation of Iraqi Christians, who in the past have always been distinguished
for their cultural level and standard of schooling. "It is very
negative" says the bishop, and "very dangerous".
In the history of community, education has always been an
"important anchor for us," says the Archbishop of Mosul, and as a
Church "we are trying to rent as many homes as possible" to free schools
and allow the resumption of classes . However, the operation is "very
slow, because it is not always possible to find homes or housing is unavailable."
Concluding, the prelate says however that there are some small signs of hope,
"we rented a building with 56 apartments - he says - that can accommodate all
the families who, at this time, are housed in a school in Ankawa" . Only one out of 11, he adds, while
the goal is "free up at least two or three more." (DS)
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