» 06/27/2014, 00.00
LEBANON - IRAQ
Saving Qaraqosh, a Christian town torn between Kurds and ISIS
Boutros Mouchi, Syriac Catholic bishop of Nineveh, makes an appeal to ensure that Eastern Christians not be turned into "a wandering people." The town, once a safe haven, is likely to become the next battleground.
- Qaraqosh, a predominantly Christian town
in Iraq's Nineveh Plains, has been without water and
power supply for a week. Now residents are preparing to flee a place they once considered
safe as Islamist forces begin to clash with Kurdish peshmerga.
Eastern Christians are not a wandering people," said Mgr Boutros Mouchi, Syriac Catholic
bishop of Nineveh, in an attempt to raise awareness locally, regionally and
internationally about the need to save the town from an invasion by Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),
which some deemed "imminent".
Melhem Khalaf, law professor at
the University Saint-Joseph, joined
the appeal just back from Iraq, where he also visited
is for all political and religious leaders and all those who
care about the survival of the region's rich social fabric,
history and future.
Bishop Boutros Mouchi is still
in Qaraqosh, which is located about thirty kilometres from Mosul and is close to Kurdish-controlled
ISIS took Mosul, Kurdish
forces moved into Kirkuk, Iraq's richest oil-rich region, extending
their control over Qaraqosh as well.
the city found itself caught between rival forces fighting
each other. When Qaraqosh residents asked ISIS leaders for the restauration
of water and power supply, they were told: "Just ask the
recent weeks, Qaraqosh, which had 38,000 residents, 35,000 of which Christian, saw
its population swell with the influx of Christians
fleeing Mosul, after it was
seized by ISIS.
happened a few years ago, when Christians sought refuge in the city after fleeing the hell of
Baghdad and thought they had found a place of peace.
first, ISIS pledged not
to attack the town. With the desire to reassure the
people and give credit to the commitments made by Islamist forces,
the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako went there
Now everything has changed. Islamic extremists have
begun attacking Qaraqosh, clashing with Kurdish peshmerga.
with representatives of various Eastern Churches, Mgr Mouchi is appealing to
the world to save the city and its
most precious asset: religious,
cultural and ethnic diversity.
World has to face up to its responsibilities,
and not close its eyes before the
violence that is currently
tearing Iraq apart and that is happening
or could happen, Khalaf said, under the guise of a power struggle.
part of this mobilisation, the Vatican has been reminded through
Western ambassadors in Beirut.
is convinced that the issue
goes beyond the fate of a few thousands Christians and
involves the future of the region.
As Khalaf put it, "Qaraqosh
is a bit of all of us. To let it die
is to sign the death sentence for all of us."
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