Mosul's Christians still refuse to go back after Islamic State

Mosul's Christians still refuse to go back after Islamic State

PanARMENIAN.Net - The jihadists may have been ousted from their Iraqi hometown of Mosul but many Christians like Haitham Behnam refuse to go back and trade in the stability of their new lives, AFP says.

"There's no security, no protection for Christians back there," said the former resident of the largest city in northern Iraq.

"It's better for us to stay here and keep our mouths shut," said the man in his 40s who resettled in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil in 2014 after the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group seized control of Mosul.

"They came to see us in our shops. They told us: 'We have nothing against you. If we're bothering you, tell us.' A week later, it was 'Christians out!'" recalled Behnam, who used to deal in ready-to-wear clothing.

Under the brutal rule of IS, Mosul's Christian community of around 35,000 was handed an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a special tax imposed on non-Muslims, or risk being executed unless they leave town.

Since the Iraqi authorities on July 10 announced their recapture of Mosul after a battle that raged for several months, tens of thousands of Christians who have rebuilt their lives in the past three years face a dilemma.

Photo. AFP/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE.
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