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Iraqi Christians commemorate moment they were forced to flee homes

Hundreds of Christians took part in a procession in the town of Karamles on the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq on Monday evening in commemoration of the moment they were forced to flee their homes as so-called Islamic State took over their communities four years ago.


Christians in a procession through Karamles. PICTURE: Via Agenzia Fides.

Agenzia Fides reports that tens of thousands of Christians fled from the towns of Karamles, Qaraqosh, Talkief and Bartalla on 6th and 7th August, 2014, after the Iraqi Army and Peshmerga Kurdish troops in the region had withdrawn. Those who fled had gone to safer cities, like Erbil, located to the east.

Following the defeat of IS, by last December 300 Christian families had returned to Karamles.

Monday’s candle-lit procession was preceded with Mass and a reflection on the pain and suffering that had accompanied the dramatic mass exodus from the town and along the way participants recited Psalm 150 as they celebrated the “new beginning” following their return to the town.

Fr Paul Thabit Mekko, head of the Christian community in Karamles, told AsiaNews that the celebration was “not the remembrance of an awful event”.

Instead, he said, “it was a time to read the past with new eyes and a new spirit, with a real hope. What seemed impossible has become possible and we hope that other steps will follow.”

He said the community was “moving towards the future” with new ideas and projects to develop the area. While, when the first Christian refugees came back to town, “a feeling of fear prevailed”, the community was now returning, “albeit slowly, to normal”.



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