In 2003, the city of Mosul in Iraq boasted a vibrant Christian population that was two million strong. After the Islamic State took over the city in 2014, the Christian population fell to under 200,000. Those who survived and remained were not allowed to express their faith and had to pay a high tax simply for being Christian.
Five months after the city was liberated from ISIS, they are celebrating their first Christmas mass. Muslims and Christians alike attended in a show of solidarity in a community that was ravaged by the caliphate. Reports from the ground hit Twitter:
"Muslims, as well as local & military officials, stood with Christian worshippers amid the candles & Christmas trees."
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) December 25, 2017
The first Christmass mass in Mosul Iraq since June of 2014 When #isis took over the city, Mosul was completely liberated 5 months ago. A huge win in the war against #isis and radical terrorism. pic.twitter.com/cJi7xZQLkM
— Steven nabil (@thestevennabil) December 24, 2017
In a country and region that has experienced varying degrees of strife and war over the centuries, it’s encouraging to see normalcy starting to return.
Hymns filled a church in Iraq’s second city Mosul on Sunday as worshippers celebrated Christmas for the first time in four years after the end of militant rule.
Tens of thousands of Christians fled northern Iraqi towns in 2014 as the ISIS group seized Mosul and swathes of the surrounding Nineveh province.
But Iraqi forces expelled the militants from the city this year after months of battle, allowing Christians to return to pray at Saint Paul’s church.