Iraqi Christians now fearing ‘Shiafication’

DUHOK, Iraq — Amir Yaqu, an Iraqi Christian who fled his hometown of Bartella in northern Iraq because of the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014, said circumstances have gotten “even worse” following the liberation of Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh Plains.

According to the pro-Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, Bartella’s population of around 40,000 is mostly Christians. Yaqu said the situation is getting worse day by day as Hashd al-Shaabi forces are “systematically trying to change the Christian demography of these places.” The new school in Bartella was named after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

An anonymous security source aware of the details of the opening of the school told Rudaw that the opening of the school was “an attempt at Shiafication of the region.” The security source reported that members of the Shiite militia have adorned most streets and public buildings with sectarian banners and graffiti. In Hamdania, he said, “There are Christians associated with the Hashd al-Shaabi but they have no power.”

Iraq currently ranks 7th on the Open Doors Watch List of countries where persecution of Christians is highest. (TAB)