IRAQ – Christian church destroyed by IS rebuilt by Muslim residents
A church in a district once terrorised by Islamic State has been restored with the help of Muslim neighbours. During the IS occupation the Chaldean church, which is an Iraqi church in full communion with the Pope in Rome, was damaged by terrorists. It was left in a ruined state after Kurdish and allied forces pushed IS out of the district.
The rebuilding effort was sparked when Muslims in the community were accused of harassing a Christian family. Local residents were horrified to hear reports claiming Christians were still facing abuse. They decided to take matters into their own hands to improve community relations.
Residents volunteered to help rebuild the church and monastery of Mar Georges to show that Iraq welcomes both Christians and Muslims. Muslim neighbours rushed to the church and helped to clean the space and repair the holy rooms alongside Christians.
The group of inter-faith volunteers wished to send a message to show they were united. They said they wanted to demonstrate that ‘Mosul is yours as it’s ours’ and ‘our differences are our strength’.
Iraq has one of the smallest, but oldest, Christian communities in the world but IS oversaw the destruction of Iraqi churches, books and Christian spaces during their occupation of the city. One of the areas occupied was al-Arabi in Mosul, where the Mar Georges monastery is located.