Middle East and North Africa

Liberated Mosul still not a safe place for Iraqi Christians

A village outside Mosul

The presence of Iranian-backed Shia militia in Mosul means Christian do not feels safe, more than seven months since the city was liberated from Islamic State.

“The city was liberated by the Iraqi army, which is supported by many Iranian Shiites [Shia]. In Mosul, they are met with a lot of distrust: they aren’t seen as allies. For me, the city has not become safe since its recapture,” says Nadia, an Assyrian Christian who left Mosul when Islamic State invaded in 2014.

Nadia initially did not recognise her home when she went back to it, to discover it had been trashed. She plans to sell the damaged and dirty property as soon as possible.

The concern for the future of the Christian community in Iraq does not just stem from the threat from Shia militia. Violence against Christians began in Mosul long before the arrival of Islamic State.

“After the turn of the century, it was already getting worse for Christians in Mosul,” says Nadia. “In 2008 and 2009, Christians began to be threatened, abducted and killed for their faith. I received a letter once that said I had to pay, or I would pay with my life. A well-known priest was abducted and slaughtered. His body was found in pieces.”

For Nadia and other Iraqi Christians considering what lies ahead, their future prospects remain bleak.