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Iraqi youth tells synod martyrdom isn’t the only form of persecution

ROME – For Safa Al Alqoshy of Iraq, the trauma of terrorism goes beyond killing. It’s experienced in a more lasting way through the insecurity felt by those who have survived, but who face a future full of questions and frightening possibilities.

“It’s very important to pay attention that there is not only persecution by killing, there is a persecution by psychology, by feelings. You feel that you are alone, that you are not supported,” Safa Al Alqoshy said in an interview with Crux.

These feelings come about through a combination of factors, including a decline in employment opportunities, the quality of education, the lack of international support, but also primarily through the exodus of Iraq’s Christian community due to immigration, he said.

A Chaldean Catholic from Baghdad, Al Alqoshy, 26, was the only Iraqi youth delegate to the Oct 3-28 Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment. He left the synod unexpectedly earlier this week to be with his ailing mother, after delivering an emotional speech to synod participants that garnered the longest round of applause of the gathering thus far.

Christians in Iraq want to stay and witness to their faith, but the situation is unstable, he said, recalling how for some 120,000 people on Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, their lives were turned upside down during one night when ISIS invaded their towns in the summer of 2014.

“It’s not easy…They want to stay but at the same time they think about the future, the children of their children. So, between thinking of staying or emigrating, some events or something maybe happens like the ISIS invasion, and it makes them decide immediately to emigrate,” he said, calling such exits one of the most pressing problems Iraq faces.

With nationwide instability and an uncertain future, many people choose to go abroad, leaving previously tight-knit families torn apart by distance, he said, noting that his own family has suffered the same fate after several aunts, uncles and cousins chose to move abroad.

Read more at Crux. 

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