By Sonia Farid
The liberation of Mosul was heralded as a new era for Iraqi Christians who could go back to their homes following the defeat of ISIS.
However, this much-publicized triumph overshadowed a significant defeat that seems to shed a more realistic light on the fate of Christians in Iraq.
The capital, Baghdad, was, meanwhile, witnessing the permanent closure of eight churches. After a delegation from the Catholic Church regional authority visited those churches and following investigations that showed that attendance, if any, kept dropping in the past seven years, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate announced that the churches will be closed for good. While such decision seemed to have made a lot of sense, it leaves little space for optimism as far Iraq’s Christian community is involved.
Journalist Elsy Melkonian argues that Baghdad is different from Mosul, where the latter was occupied by ISIS, hence placing Christians under a direct threat that forced them to leave. For Melkonian, the remarkable decline in the number of Christians in Baghdad can be attributed to other reasons.
“It is not related to ISIS, but to the fact that Christians have generally become targeted by different militias since 2003,” Melkonian wrote. “They always kidnap Christians and ask for ransom and at times they would just kill the kidnapped person right away.”