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Iraq: Easter in Qaraqosh

Iraq: Christians celebrate Easter in Qarqosh (Baghdida)

Many of Iraq’s Christians celebrated their first Easter since returning to their homes. With the help of local churches and other organisations, people in the country’s largest Christian city, Qaraqosh (also known as Baghdida), have restored their homes and are now attempting to recover the lives they lost when the Islamic State group took over the city nearly four years ago.

The pastor of the Mar Behnam and Sarah Church, located in the centre of Qaraqosh, talks about how the city, which was deserted following IS’s onslaught, is starting to recover.

Iraqi Christian: ‘IS made me spit on a Cross and convert to Islam’

Zarefa was forced to convert to Islam and spit on a Cross. World Watch Monitor

Zarefa was forced
to convert to Islam and spit on a Cross.
World Watch Monitor

(World Watch Monitor) One of the major themes explored in Martin Scorsese’s film, Silence, is the question of how to respond when faced with a choice between denying one’s faith or facing death.

Christians in 17th century Japan were given this choice, and it’s the same for Christians in many parts of the world today.

Throughout the film, the audience is shown Christians being told to step on – or, in one case, spit on – an image of Jesus or Mary. Some do; others can’t.

This same choice was given to Zarefa, an elderly Iraqi Christian woman, when the Islamic State captured her town in 2014. During a raid on the house where she was staying, IS fighters found a few crucifixes and other Christian images – strictly illegal under IS rule.

“They forced me to spit on the Cross,” Zarefa recalls. “I told them that it was not appropriate, that it was a sin. He said that I must spit. ‘Don’t you see that I have a gun?’ he asked me. I said to myself, (more…)

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