Tens of thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets in recent days to protest the country’s challenges and problems. The protests have been violent in Baghdad and several other cities.  Mosul residents told Aid to the Church in Need that after three years of war, people are tired of violence and “do not want war anymore”.

Pope Francis said recently during his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, “While I express my condolence for the victims and my closeness to their families and to the wounded, I invite the Authorities to listen to the cry of the population that asks for a worthy and tranquil life.

“I exhort all Iraqis, with the support of the international community, to follow the way of dialogue and of reconciliation and to seek just solutions to the country’s challenges and the problems. I pray so that that martyred people may find peace and stability after so many years of war and violence when it has suffered so much.”

Many of the issues highlighted by protestors in Baghdad are the same ones faced by young Christians: unemployment, corruption, and a government motivated by Iranian interests. In the Nineveh Plains, many Christians live under the control of Iranian-backed militias, who have been accused of extorting the local population, interfering with the economy, and intimidating minorities.

Since the protests began on October 1st, at least 200 protesters have been killed at the hands of the Iraqi police. If the situation deteriorates, it would not be the first time that Christians and other religious minorities became the victim in the political strife that has characterized Iraq since 2003.