Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Iraqi Woman Who Met the Pope Sees Little Chance for Change

Iraqi Woman Who Met the Pope Sees  Little Chance for Change

BAGHDAD- The story of Doha Sabah Abdallah’s personal tragedy and loss deeply resonated with Pope Francis during his historic visit last weekend to the northern Iraqi town of Qaraqosh, once devastated by Islamic State group militants.
Back in 2014, her son’s death alerted the town’s Christian community to the impending IS onslaught. A mortar shell fired by the militants as they approached Qaraqosh struck outside Abdallah’s house, killing her son and two cousins playing in the front yard.
The pope heard Abdallah’s testimony at a church ceremony in Qaraqosh last Sunday.
But just days after the pontiff’s visit — meant to give hope to Iraq’s dwindling Christian community and encourage its members to stay — Abdallah doubts the realities of life in Iraq will change.
She said she would also leave if given a chance.
“The pope doesn’t have Moses’ staff, he can’t part the seas and solve our very difficult problems,” she told The Associated Press over the phone on Thursday. “If I had the resources or if someone gave me the chance to leave this country, I would never come back.”
Years after Iraqi forces declared victory over IS and drove militants from the area, Abdallah’s disabled daughter still cannot attend proper schools, homes are still shattered and in ruins. Jobs are hard to come by, and none of Abdallah’s relatives abroad plan to return.
Iraq’s Christian population, which has existed since the time of Christ, has dwindled from around 1.5 million before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to just a few hundred thousand today. Estimates put the current population between 250,000-500,000.
As churches and Christian communities were increasingly targeted by extremist groups at the height of Iraq’s sectarian war that followed the invasion, the country saw an exodus of Christians. Even more fled after the brutal 2014 IS onslaught that emptied out entire Christian villages across the northern plains of Ninevah. (AP)