- May 29, 2020
A recent independence vote in Kurdistan has created the threat of new conflict in northern Iraq, and raised questions about whether this is the right time to be trying to rebuild the Christian presence in the Nineveh Plains. Ask Middle East Christians that question, however, and they’ll reply, ‘When exactly would the right time be?’
Despite a Sept. 25th independence referendum in which 93 percent of Kurds voted to break with Iraq, leading to border closings, threats of economic reprisals, and fears of military conflict, organizers of a push to rebuild Christian villages and towns in the Nineveh Plains, which straddle Iraqi and Kurdish territory, say that for now, they’re moving full steam ahead.
After a new report showed that religious minorities in Northern Iraq fled the ISIS onslaught in 2014 into Kurdistan, including 70,000 Christians who took refuge in Erbil, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the government “to take steps to ensure that these communities realize their rights.”
Just a few miles away from war and genocide, two priestly ordinations last Friday in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the celebrations they triggered, suggest a surprising narrative of not only survival but rebirth for Christianity in the Middle East.
ROME— Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York on Friday heads to Erbil, a city in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, and says he’s going to “put his teeth into his big talk” when it comes to supporting persecuted Christians in the Middle East. “Like everybody else, I talk a good show about