Date: May 31, 2017
A church in an Iraqi district once terrorised by the Islamic State group has been restored with the help of local Muslims.
Residents were horrified after reports claimed Christians were facing abuse even after IS had been chased out of their part of the city.
Volunteers said they wanted to help rebuild the church to show that Iraq still welcomes both Christians and Muslims.
They said they wanted to show that “Mosul is yours as it’s ours” and “our differences are our strength”, the UK’s Metro newspaper reported.
Mosul is set to be liberated completely by the end of next month, after three years of occupation by IS, which desecrated and stripped churches, murdered Christians and other non-Sunnis, and threatened them with death if they did not flee.
One of the areas occupied was al-Arabi in north-west Mosul, where the Chaldean Mar Georges monastery – a site popular with Christians and Muslims alike – overlooks the city.
The monastery, the most prominent in the Nineveh Plains region, was attacked by IS in March 2015, when the jihadists shattered crosses, statues, bells and sculptures, destroyed paintings and removed tombstones, Al-Monitor reported.
The rebuilding effort last week began when some Muslims in the community were accused of harassing a Christian family, which the volunteers said was a false rumour.
The group of volunteers from different faith communities said they wanted to show they were united. Photos shared on the This is Christian Iraq Facebook page show how Muslim men and women headed to the church to clean and repair the monastery.
Meanwhile, volunteers have also begun to clean up the ancient Mar Mattai monastery outside Mosul. Christian MP Yonadam Kanna told Al-Monitor that volunteers have removed the words that the jihadists engraved on its walls and renovated the monks’ rooms which were once used to detain civilians. Mr Kanna urged the Iraqi government to fund work to restore Mar Mattai and another monastery, Mar Benham – which IS left 40 per cent destroyed – to being places of worship and religious tourism.