IRAQ – “We couldn’t go back, even if we wanted to,” say Mosul Christians, by Tony Gamal-Gabriel.
The jihadists may have been ousted from their Iraqi hometown of Mosul but many Christians like Haitham Behnam refuse to go back and trade in the stability of their new lives.
“There’s no security, no protection for Christians back there,” said the former resident of the largest city in northern Iraq. …
Under the brutal rule of IS, Mosul’s Christian community of around 35,000 was handed an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a special tax imposed on non-Muslims, or risk being executed unless they leave town …
“There’s no security (in Mosul). People were brainwashed over the past three years,” said Behnam, a Catholic. “Even the children have become Daesh, they’ve been taught to slit throats,” he said using an Arabic name for IS.
A customer at the small workshop that Behnam rents was quick to agree. “If I was a Christian, I wouldn’t go back to Mosul until its residents prove to me that they’re ready to accept me,” said Omar Fawaz, a Muslim from the east of the city.
Once the battle for Mosul was over, his parents had returned, only to find their home occupied by the victorious security forces.
“Neighbors told us to take the house of a Christian who used to live four doors down,” said the 29-year engineer.
hat-tip Stephen Neil