News / Thoughts

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News / Thoughts

Life in Mosul: One year on…

June 9, 2015

It’s been a year since IS militants took control of the Iraqi city of Mosul and launched an offensive that captured large amounts of land across the country. The capture of Mosul was especially shocking. The city was home to up to 60,000 Christians, but since last June, few, if any, remain.

As IS gained control of the city, Christian homes were marked with the Arabic symbol for the letter ‘N’, meaning Nazarene, a shorthand for Christian. Minority groups were given a choice, convert to the strict views of Islam that IS supports, leave, pay an expensive tax, or die. Many chose to leave, fleeing the city for the safety of Erbil in the North.

BBC sources have reported on what life is like in Mosul after a year of IS governance. The picture painted is pretty bleak, as these quotes highlight:


This reflection is by Mariam, a gynaecologist who is a Christian:

“I’m known to be an avid reader and own a large collection of books. My collection kept on growing as friends and family leaving Iraq used to send me their books because they knew I wasn’t going to leave and that I would take care of them.

I escaped with my body unharmed, but my soul remained where I had left it: at home with my books.

“I was threatened and harassed [by Sunni extremists] before the capture of Mosul, but I kept on delivering babies for women from all religions and sects. I never differentiate between my patients as I believe everyone deserves equal care.

“However, I had to flee as Mosul fell. I escaped with my body unharmed, but my soul remained where I had left it: at home with my books.

“After moving to Erbil I received shocking news: Islamic State had confiscated my house and marked it with the letter ‘N’ [for Nasrani – a word used by IS to refer to Christians]. I immediately telephoned my friends in Mosul and begged them to save my books.

“But it was too late. They called back saying my library had been emptied onto the street. However, some of my neighbours were able to rescue some precious books that remain hidden.”


Islamic State’s strict views mean that women must cover not just their faces, but whole bodies, including their hands…

“We had heard stories of men being flogged because their wives didn’t put their gloves on. Another woman’s parents were banned from driving their car. Those who objected would be beaten and humiliated.

“I was arrested by IS. They came to our family home looking for my brother. When they couldn’t find him, they decided to take me to prison instead.

Intimidation and torture

Fouad retells some of his own story…

“I was arrested by IS. They came to our family home looking for my brother. When they couldn’t find him, they decided to take me to prison instead.

“Then they tortured me. The guy who did it wouldn’t stop unless he got tired. He was edgy all the time and he wouldn’t listen to what his prisoners said. He flogged me with a power cable and also tortured me psychologically.

“When my brother handed himself in, they found out that the accusations against him were false but they still kept me in prison until they judged me well enough to leave.

“They had hit me so hard with the cable that the marks are still visible on my back.”

Sources: Open Doors, BBC News (See the full BBC article these quotes are taken from here…)

Please pray…

  • Pray for the normal people of Mosul who are living in a climate of fear and oppression. Ask that their lives would be free of fear and intimidation.
  • People are worried about how pro government forces intend to take back the city. They would like IS to leave, but they know it will be a big fight. Pray for the safety of civilians if/when an attempt to retake the city happens.
  • Pray for children in the city. Moderate Muslims are being exposed to extremist propaganda, and the schools that are open are pushing this harsh ideology. Pray children especially would not be converted to these ways of thinking.
  • Pray for all those who have had to flee Mosul, including Christians and other minorities. Ask that they would be able to safely return home to help rebuild the city.
  • Finally, pray for the persecutors. Ask that the eyes of many IS militants would open to see the injustice and pain they are causing. Pray for many to change their ways and do what they can to end the illegal rule of IS in places across Syria and Iraq.

How are Open Doors responding?

Check out this infographic to see some of the statistics coming out of the wars in Iraq and Syria and to see how Open Doors is helping in the region.


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We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.