26 September 2011
IRAQ: No place for Christian families, Part II
by David Hovde
In April 2011, Bassam William and his family lived in a Shia
neighborhood in Baghdad. Some of
their neighbors, who in the past had visited with them, eaten with them, and
spent time with them in their house, later told William and his family that
there was no place for Christians in that neighborhood and that he and his
family would have to leave the neighborhood and the country. On 17 April 2011, William found a note
on his car from Kataa’ib Saraya Al Haq (Righteousness Brigade), a militia that
broke away from the Mahdi Army. Kataa’ib
Saraya Al Haq receives training in Iran and targets Americans and
Christians. In the letter, they
used profanity to threaten William’s family. The letter said that they had to leave this Muslim country
immediately or they would kill all his family members, and that there was no
place for Christians Baghdad.
After two days, William and his family left Baghdad, leaving
their house and furniture behind.
They heard that people could go to Syria and stay there for up to three
years while applying for asylum in another country. William went to Syria to try to apply for asylum. He heard of people who had been there
for three years, spent up all their money and had not been given asylum in
another country. He decided to
move with his family to Suleimaniya in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
William and his family now live in Suleimaniya in a crowded
apartment and sleep on the floor.
He does not have a job. His
wife, Maha Mashalla, sometimes travels all the way back to Baghdad to
work. Though his family receives
some financial assistance, it is not enough to cover the rent. They desperately want to find asylum in
William says there used to be 1,500,000 Christians in
Iraq. Now there are about
300,000. The churches in Baghdad
are guarded by troops or behind walls now. William says that someday there may really be no more
Christians in Iraq.