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ICC Note: An interview with the archbishop of Mosul sheds more light on the narrative of those fleeing genocide in Iraq. Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf shares his experience in Mosul when the city fell to ISIS as well as the wider scope of the plight of Syriac Christians who have inhabited Mosul for over 2,000 years. Additionally, he explains the continued discrimination that Christians face in refugee camps.

05/28/2016 Iraq (ACLJ): Christians have inhabited Mosul and the Plains of Nineveh in Northern Iraq for over 2,000 years.  Yet by early June 2014, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul, Mgr Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf was the last bishop remaining in Mosul, and ISIS (the Islamic State) was pounding at the gates of the city.  Within the week, the city had fallen to ISIS, and Archbishop Sharaf was forced into exile.

This week the ACLJ’s European affiliate, the European Centre for Law & Justice (ECLJ), hosted a reception for Archbishop Sharaf at our office in Strasbourg, France. Addressing the audience of more than 200 people, the archbishop called for an end to the genocide of Iraqi Christians and a restoration of a Christian home in the Nineveh Plains.

Archbishop Sharaf denounced the “genocide” that has been allowed to continue in plain sight in Iraq for years. He described the situation of his people there and concluded, “We Syrians, are the original inhabitants of this land, then we became a minority and now we are merely refugees in our own country.” As an explanation of the genocide, he emphasized how little regard this society has for Christians, “Christians are cheap people, you can kill them, they count for nothing.” The archbishop deplored the destruction of families and communities provoked by this genocide and the exodus, affirming that “the demon first attacks the families to destroy people and the church.”

He also described the difficult living conditions of the more than 5,000 refugee families living in exile in Erbil, Iraq.  He notably reported that no single Muslim defended them when they were offered the choice between converting, leaving or dying. Even his neighbor, to whom he generously provided electricity for years, was the first to destroy the cross at the top of the cathedral.

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