The Painful Liberation of Iraqs Christian Heartland
ISIS pressured the Christians of the Nineveh plain around Mosul to flee. Now they are returning, but in the key town of Qaraqosh, the fighting rampages on.”>
QARAQOSH, IraqThe churchs interior has been blackened by volley, and the altar has been vandalized. ISIS graffiti has been smeared on the walls, and songbooks lie burned on the field. But the two priests, undeterred, make their route through the nave of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, climbing the narrow stairway to the mezzanine where the organ has been crushed, and rise on the flat rooftop next to the belfry.
Here, the tolling of the buzzer of Iraqs largest faith formerly summon 3,000 people to prayer on Sundays. Now the belfry is disfigured by cannon fire and the bell itself is croak, snatched from its chain.
Without hesitation, the clergymen climb on top of the arched ceiling extending along the sticker of the building. They are followed by a handful of men in military weariness. A makeshift crosstwo sections of plywood strung together with copper wirequickly follows, and “the mens” begin feverishly to pile up stones to create a simple foundation.
Shots ring out nearby, and mortar rounds crash down a few hundred paws from the church, but within instants the cross hampers firm. Ecstatic, Father Majid and Father Amar burst into song, and the hallelujah reverberates out in Aramaic, the ancient speech that relates Iraqs Christians to the genesis of their faith.
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