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ICC Note:

Two steps forward, three steps back. Iraq and Syria’s beleaguered Christians have had to endure an unpredictable variety of hardships and persecution. Any improvements to their communities has been short lived, as for decades the region has been continuously plagued by conflict and violence. ISIS only accelerated the persecution which Christians faced, as the militants incorporated a targeted genocide against religious minorities as part of their ideology. Without the guarantee of safety and the protection of the rule of law, Christians are left wondering just how long they will be able to survive?


12/26/17 Iraq (Huffington Post) –  Two steps forward. Three steps back. The clock is ticking. How much longer will these beleaguered Christians survive the persecution?

The Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq were liberated from ISIS a couple of months ago. Cheers arose. Yesterday, the 15th of December, three and a half years after the invasion of Islamists and the expulsion of non-Muslims, the first completely renovated church in the area was rededicated. More cheering. Celebrations. The ancient Christian people of this region—Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans —are able to return to what has been the heart of their homeland for thousands of years.

Two steps forward.

The following day Facebook pages and Twitter accounts again spew anti-Christian hatred. ISIS is a murderous Sunni sect; they wage war on, and kill Shia Muslims as well, who they consider to be heathens. Shia soldiers were among those who helped the Christians to return. Young Shia Muslim men have now made a complete U- turn; they harass Christian female students at the university, and demand that they dress according to the Muslim code. This has made the few who have returned to the Nineveh Plains angry and afraid at the same time. Has persecution now a new face?

Three steps back.

The Christians have also returned to the ancient city of Homs, in Syria. Slowly they have tried to return to their everyday life. The houses are being rebuilt, the church bells are ringing. The students have returned to the university and their studies. On social media you can follow some of the inhabitants of Homs and be filled with hope and love.

Two steps forward.

But then I scroll through Twitter accounts from the Middle East, and I see pictures of four young women, students in Homs. I call a relative of mine in the city. I can’t get hold of him. I call Damascus and Beirut, and my contacts confirm that a terror attack has taken place in Homs. ISIS claims responsibility for the deed. An NGO on Facebook states that the attack was directed towards the regime’s soldiers. But there weren’t any on the bus.

The Christians are convinced that it is a signal directed at them, that they shouldn’t think that they can live in security.

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For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].