We must not dismiss the horrors faced by Christians and other minorities. President Trump must help them, lest another round of atrocities ensue.
President Trump pledged on the campaign trail to end the persecution of Iraqi Christians. He should waste no time proving he is true to his word by endorsing the establishment of an internationally-protected safe zone for Iraq’s minorities that have faced genocide for far too long.
Some reports estimate that around 80 percent of Iraq’s Christian population has fled or been killed since 2003. This minority numbered as many as 1.4 million people but may be as little as 275,000 now. And that’s just one minority. ISIS also embarked on a brutal campaign to wipe out the Yazidis, Kakai Kurds and countless Muslims who stood in their way.
I was recently in the Christian city of Qaraqosh—or what remains of it. Although ISIS was pushed out in September, few people have returned to their homes. It felt as if the battle had just ended, with an eerie quiet only interrupted by the loud crunch of glass beneath our shoes as we toured destroyed, blackened, and bullet-ridden buildings.
‘We Don’t Worship A God Of Buildings’
Our Christian guides warned us to be on the lookout for disguised explosives left behind by ISIS. Inside what was said to be the local ISIS headquarters, we came to a classroom with a small stack of Qurans, apparently unmoved and still covered in dust.
When we stood inside a torched church, which they said ISIS subsequently used as a training ground, the Iraqi Christians said they saw an enemy full of fear and insecurity. A painting of Jesus remained by the altar; a sign that they will fill the church once again.
“We don’t worship a God of buildings,” our guide said, explaining that the persecution had grown his faith and he felt closer to God than ever before.
“Ryan, be careful,” one man said as he pointed upwards to the fragile ceiling of his home, as he showed us the remnants of his and his parents’ bedrooms. Their home had been seized by ISIS, and subsequently targeted by an airstrike.
“I have nothing. Look. I have nothing. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said, staring into piles of rubble.
The sadness wasn’t from reflecting upon the past, but the future. You could hear the loneliness of a people that felt abandoned and unprotected from the next round of genocide and war.