O Christians of Iraq... you are welcome

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O Christians of Iraq... you are welcome

By Fr. Rif'at Bader

A fellow journalist has asked me about the Christians of Iraq, their number in Jordan, particularly those who recently came, as well as those who came since the 1990s. As I began to answer her questions I realized something. I said: “Excuse me; I've got mixed up as I meant to talk about Syrian brothers and not the Iraqis for the statistics I brought forward was not relevant to Iraqis, but rather for the Syrians.

We have become mixed up in the East as we proceed from one crisis to the other. We are no longer aware about the priority of the topic we talk about. Whenever a crisis subsides in the region, a new crisis erupts. Amid the erupting internal crises in some countries, Israel realizes that it is the “optimum time” to deal blows to the unarmed Palestinians.

Several Christians of Mosul, who are currently the focus of media, have arrived in the Kingdom. Concerned sources say that their number is subject to increase in the days to come so long that the current crisis has not been settled.

Aside from the continued Jordanian official efforts—which are designed to condemn persecution, exonerate religion from what is taking place as well as doing whatever possible—several centers affiliated with the Church opened their doors wide open to receive the dear brothers arriving from Iraq in cooperation with Caritas Jordan. This is intended to meet the needs of the displaced Iraqis, who number more than a hundred thousand people, on daily bases.

This is Jordan’s destiny, to open its doors to the displaced. Yet this time, Jordan set a more remarkable and influential example since for the first time we receive “religious refugees” who take refuge in Jordan not only for political violence, wars and conflicts, or even external or internal disputes, but this time for religious reasons. Is the situation, as being frequently defined as, that “the Iraqi territory can no longer keep its indigenous people” and can no longer accommodate religious pluralism that existed on this land for thousands of years at a time when it experienced several periods of prosperity, harmony and mutual respect. These brethren had nowhere else to go but to come to Jordan being known for its hospitality and having an open-door policy.

As for the Mosul Christians who fled to Jordan in 2014, I would like to go back to 70AD when Christianity spread in Bella, northern Jordan, at its early stages. Ecumenical historian Eusebius of Caesarea (264-340) mentions in his book “History of Church” that Vespesianos who was named king, headed immediately to Rome and entrusted his son Titus in 68AD to fight the Jews. Titus, attacked the city in 70AD and destroyed it completely, as history book reports. The Christians, realizing that the time of the destruction of “Jerusalem’’ was nearing as Lord Jesus had prophesied, they left the city--led by their Bishop Simon--and stayed in Bella and its suburbs. As they had fled Jerusalem in 70AD to Jordan and found a safe haven, the Christians of Mosul follow the same example and come to Jordan where they find in the Kingdom of harmony and mutual respect a good heart that indiscriminately loves them and restores to them self-confidence, and hope in a peaceful life.

Blessed are the efforts of the benevolent who receive those who lose the chance to have a decent life.

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