MOSUL, Iraq – Even in the context of the vast destruction left by ISIS everywhere across the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq, nothing compares to the staggering sight of Mosul’s Old City, where piles of rubble and overturned cars riddled with bullet holes make up half the landscape of the once-thriving city.
A year later, the dust is barely beginning to settle after Mosul’s liberation in July 2017. While a few wealthier shop owners have patched up their property enough to get things running again, half of the city of 3 million has been flattened, businesses have been lost, homes destroyed, and every week the body count mounts as more rubble is cleared and more deceased are pulled from the dust.
However, while building costs for the Old City alone are expected to be in the billions, for Mosul’s inhabitants, the city’s displaced Christian population in particular, trust will be the hardest thing to repair, if it is even possible at all.
Father Salar Kajo, who oversees the parish of St. George in Teleskoff, where there are still some 400 families from Mosul who refuse to return, told Cruxthat “people can’t return because it is still dangerous for them. They don’t feel safe.”
Even though the government says the city is secure, “they are liars,” he said, adding that even if they are not active, ISIS and some sympathizers are still present, “but the government doesn’t say this…I have heard many things there.”
While Christians have been resilient in the face of persecution, they are now fed up, Kajo said, adding that “as soon as a Muslim enters Teleskof or one of these villages, it means the end of these villages. I give my word on this.”
“There is no trust, we are not secure, the mentality is different, and they [the government] consider us second-class. How can you treat people like this? Especially in the time of ISIS,” he said, noting how most militants “were neighbors who stole” and turned against Christians.
Read more at Crux.