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ICC Note

Christians returning to their homes in Iraq do so warily. As they see the destruction all around them they feel betrayed by their Sunni Muslim neighbors. However, the story of Qaraqosh where 50,000 Christians once lived is as complex as all the others. Though Sunni Muslims may have initially welcomed ISIS, they soon realized their horrible mistake and paid the price. Nevertheless, trust in the community has been broken, though there are still those who believe that it can be rebuilt so that Muslims and Christians can live in peace together as they have for centuries.

06/18/2017-Iraq (WLRN) – Hazm Aboush welcomes visitors with a string of apologies.

He’s sorry for the bareness of his home. He’s sorry that he’s not in better spirits, and that he cannot offer more food. He asks for forgiveness and talks about how things used to be.

“You cannot understand, they took everything,” he says, sitting in the sparse front room of his home in Qaraqosh, northern Iraq. “They took the tiles, the air conditioners. Someone even took the front door.”

Many of the houses on his street were left with less than that. Scorch marks reach out of every smashed window. Ornate outer walls of the castle-like homes are riddled with bullet holes. Even trees have been felled as a petty parting shot.

It’s the same everywhere you look throughout the town. The churches, their altars, hymn books, pews, artifacts — the things that the 50,000 former inhabitants of this Christian town held dearest — have been desecrated.

This is what ISIS extremists did to Qaraqosh during their two-year occupation, until they were chased out in December last year. The graffiti they left on the walls is a claim of ownership to the carnage.

But it’s not the actions of the fanatics that consume Aboush. It’s the alleged collaboration of the people he used to call friends and business partners — his Sunni Muslim neighbors.





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