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Church bells in Mosul ring again after IS signalling a return to life Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Church bells in Mosul ring again after IS signalling a return to life

Christianity is the second largest Iraqi religion after Islam [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 August, 2018

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After years of ruin since the Islamic State group's takeover of Mosul, a church that was severely damaged is once again ringing its bells following restoration efforts.
Years after the Saint Korkis Church in Nineveh was destroyed following the Islamic State group's [IS] takeover of Mosul, the church has resumed services and is ringing its bells once again. 

"Donations from individual Christians and civil organisations have contributed to this attempt to restore life to the church," former parliamentarian Emad John told The New Arab. 

The return of the sound of bells has been described as a signal of the return to life in Mosul and unity in Iraq. 

But Emad criticised the Iraqi government for failing to participate in the restoration of the church by not contributing to the effort or funds.

"The contribution of the government would be very symbolic for us, but they neglected our demands and refused to participate, forcing us to rely on private donations," he said.

"The number of Christians returning is still very few in Mosul because of the lack of government support," Emad added.

He called on the government to "develop special programmes to support the return of Christians."

The number of Christians returning is still very few in Mosul because of the lack of government support

The July 2017 defeat in Mosul came eight months after an alliance of Iraqi armed forces, Shia militias and Kurdish fighters launched an offensive to retake the city from the extremist group.

It was considered one of the biggest defeats for the Islamic State group, but the cost of this "liberation" has been immense.

Monitoring group Airwars estimated that between February and June last year, as many as 5,805 Iraqi civilians were killed in Iraqi and coalition attacks. But many believe the actual number is likely much higher, with rights group Amnesty International saying at the time that the "true death toll of the battle may never be known".

In addition to the deaths, nearly a million people fled their homes during the military operations and the fighting destroyed entire districts of the city, with the scale of destruction unprecedented in Iraq's most recent conflict. The UN estimated that the cost of repairing basic infrastructure is set to top more than $1 billion, with rebuilding likely to take several years. 

Read also: 'Our Mosul will be alive again': After IS, Mosul vows to restore its great monuments

The Church of Saint Korkis is the first restored church in the Nineveh Plain in Mosul. It was one of the many churches that were destroyed and severely damaged by IS and in the subsequent battles to oust the group from the area. 

"Life has returned to the Church of Saint Korkis, and today it is ready for services to return and to the spread messages of peace and love in the area of Mosul," said Bishop Boutros Moshi, pastor of the diocese of Mosul and Kurdistan.

The Christians of Mosul celebrated the return of life to the church, stressing that the message of churches should be a message of peace, love and brotherhood to all.

"The bells of the Church of Korkis have brought peace to our souls after we have lost them for many years because of Daesh terrorism," said Ghassan Sarkoun, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. 

"This church has played a major role in the peaceful coexistence of the country for centuries, the joy will return to our hearts."

He stressed that "all temples and churches should be a platform for peaceful co-existence in the country: Christians, Muslims, Sabians and Yazidis are all people of Iraq and there is no difference between them. They must live with love, peace and tranquillity."

All temples and churches should be a platform for peaceful co-existence in the country: Christians, Muslims, Sabians and Yazidis are all people of Iraq and there is no difference between them

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians live in the Nineveh Plain, to the northeast of Mosul, making it one of the most prominent Christian locales in the country. 

The rise of IS from 2014 onwards, contributed further to the decline in the number of Christians, who have been emigrating since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, with many fleeing to Europe and Canada.

Christianity is the second largest Iraqi religion after Islam, followed by other religions such as Sabean, Yezidi, Baha'i and Zoroastrianism.

Most Iraqi Christians are Arabs, but some speak Syriac, in addition to Armenian. 

There also exists various Christian sects, notably Syriac, Catholic, Assyrian, Chaldean and Orthodox.

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