Until 2003, Mosul had a population of 2.7 million, the majority of whom were Sunni, and only 30,000 Christians. The war and the jihadist breakthrough have taken their toll on the last Christian families. Traumatised by the exactions of Daesh and threatened in their integrity, they took the road of exodus in June 2014 towards foreign countries or towards Ankawa, the Christian district of Erbil.
In the hands of the self-proclaimed caliph al-Baghdadi and his henchmen, Mosul is placed under the sharia regime. Summary executions, corporal punishment, intimidation, desecration of places of worship and looting… The terrorists of the Islamic State organisation indulge in the most vile actions without any limits. The houses of Christians are tagged with an “N”, the Noun designating “Nazarenes” in Koranic terms, as a sign of stigmatisation.
The bells no longer ring, the silence becomes deafening. In the district of Al-Dawasa, the Chaldean Catholic church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been requisitioned as a religious police office. On a shopping avenue, the brightly coloured shop fronts are nothing but a pile of scrap metal and concrete.
When Mosul is finally liberated, it is another shock. The consequences of the occupation of the city by the Islamic State organisation left painful scars all over the city, especially in the places of worship. All signs of Christianity have been carefully removed or, failing that, damaged.
Everywhere in the churches and on the walls, the fighters have taken care to tag their names, the rules of the sharia, the corporal punishment foreseen for the refractory and other injunctions to follow the law of the prophet.
The conclusion is clear: without support, the Christians will never return to Mosul. The area around Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church is one of the sad symbols of this. Where the church, a school and shops once stood, there are now ruins, a building on the verge of collapse and rubble. The association, contacted by Monsignor Najeeb, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul and Aqra, immediately became aware of the urgency of the situation and responded to the archbishop’s appeal.
SOS Chrétiens d’Orient therefore decided to help the Chaldean community. The project is as ambitious as Archbishop Najeeb’s ambition. It is necessary to give hope to the hundred or so families still present and to support the Christians who have fled the barbarism. In addition to the church, the school, a kindergarten, an activity room, 9 shops and 12 houses will be renovated. This is the association’s commitment to the Christians of Mosul.
In addition to restoring Mosul’s Christian heritage, this project would allow the return of Christian families to the city by guaranteeing access to education for their children and creating new jobs.
This project will serve the Christian community, revive life in Mosul and encourage Christians to gradually return to their original homes after 8 years of forced exile.