Mosul’s Christians face a difficult choice on whether or not to return to Mosul now that it has been liberated from ISIS. Many do not want to go back especially since they have rebuilt their lives in Kurdish territory. Going back to Mosul presents too many dangers. There is no security, no guarantee that their homes remain and they still feel betrayed by their Muslim neighbors.
07/21/2017 Iraq (The Times of Israel) – 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. “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 forties who resettled in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Arbil in 2014 after the Islamic State 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.
“We couldn’t go back even if we wanted to,” said Behnam, who fondly remembers “a paradise-like life” before Mosul fell under jihadist control.
His polo shirt and trousers are smeared with grease from his new life as a mechanic working in an Arbil suburb, a change he has had to undergo in order to put food on the table for his wife and two children.