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World News

New convent is 'sign that Christianity can flourish’ in Iraq

by Marcus Jones

The re-opening of a convent in a village destroyed by Islamic State extremists in Iraq is being seen as a significant milestone in the return of the Christian community to the region.

The terrorist group occupied Batnaya between 2014 and 2016 when many commentators feared the extinction of Christianity in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of believers fled the region having been told to convert or be killed.

With the demise of Islamic State, many have begun returning to the homelands as the rebuilding continues.

Charity Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting the Dominican Sisters as they attempt to re-establish themselves in the village with a convent and a nursery.

Its national director Dr Caroline Hull, said: “Visiting Iraq, I saw the suffering of those forced out of their villages by armed extremists – which is why it is vital that we continue to help those who want to return to their villages to do so.

“Batnaya became a ghost town after Daesh left and some wondered if it would ever thrive again – but the Sisters’ new convent is a sign that Christianity can flourish and have a future in the Nineveh Plains.”

The Dominican Sisters returned to the area in 2017 but reconstruction of the convent took time due to what was described as “widespread booby-trapping and an extensive underground tunnel system created”.


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