Thursday, August 07, 2014

Najaf Takes Christian Refugees

Najaf, the holy city in southern Iraq where the country's Shi'ite clerical establishment and highest-prestige religious institutions are based, is officially taking in Christian refugees from the north:
"On Aug. 3, the Najaf provincial council announced “its complete readiness to receive displaced Christian families who have left their villages and homes in Mosul.” The council affirmed that “appropriate housing will be provided. Also, the Imam Ali Holy Shrine in Najaf and Imam Hussein Holy Shrine in Karbala are ready to host Christian families, and indeed competent committees are being formed in the two holy cities."
"Al-Monitor learned from an official of the Red Crescent that the province “has until now received more than 17,000 displaced, the majority of whom are sheltered in Hussainiyat [congregation halls for Shiite commemoration ceremonies], mosques, and other religious buildings. They are receiving support from humanitarian institutions affiliated [with] the Shiite authority, the Imam Ali Shrine and the people of Najaf.” Al-Monitor met with two displaced Christian families who affirmed that they were receiving services and aid, as other displaced are.
"It is important to note that the two holy cities of Najaf and Karbala were dominant Christian centers for centuries, where the ruins of old churches are located, some of which date back to the second century. In fact, until mid-20th century, some Christian and Jewish families were still living in the two cities, without being subjected to any kind of persecution or discrimination.
 The flow of Christians into the two cities, if it continues, and their potential settling there, will revive Iraqi plurality, which has been decaying in the last years.



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