A Christian woman along with her ailing husband was allowed to stay
in their hometown of Tel Kaif under ISIS rule for two years. Rudaw
reporters spoke with her on Wednesday, when she recounted her time spent
“I was standing here when they [ISIS] first came. ‘Are you Christian?’ they asked. ‘Yes, I
am Christian,’ I replied,” Badna Shaih said. “They asked me to give
them the identity card of my husband. They left me when I said that he
was ill and therefore couldn’t walk.”
Tel Kaif is a predominantly Christian town which is 10 kilometers
north of Mosul. There are some Sunni and Shiite Muslims living in the
Most people left Tel Kaif after ISIS seized control of the town. ISIS militants had greatly damaged the town’s church.
“Later, local people were bringing them back to my doorsteps, telling
them (ISIS) that I was Christian. They once told me that I had to
either convert into Islam or move to the place where Kurds live, or we
will confiscate your home. I cried a lot that day. They didn’t come back
anymore,” Shaih said.
Badna Shaih’s husband is ill in bed and requires constant medical
care, which is why he wasn’t able to leave his hometown when ISIS
overran Tel Kaif in 2014.
“There was a library in the church. It was full of books. They took
them outside. I wanted to take them. I asked them to allow me to take
them. They burnt some of them, and agreed that I take some of them. But
some people there told them not to allow me to take the books, telling
them (ISIS) that I was a Christian” Badna Shaih said.
“I told them I wanted the books for the furnace. But there was
someone there who told them that I didn’t intend the books for use in
the furnace, and that I wanted the books because I was a Christian. They
eventually burnt them.”
The Iraqi army liberated Tel Kaif in January 2017. Few people have since returned to the town.