By Aid to the Church in Need
Murcadha O Flaherty
A Christian woman has spoken of her heartbreak seeing Mosul’s desecrated churches –
and remains fearful of Daesh (ISIS) collaborators in the city.
Younis Butti, who returned to Mosul, northern Iraq, for the first time
since Daesh seized it in summer 2014, told Aid to the Church in Need
that the city was still “extremely dangerous”.
Fearing Daesh sympathisers amid the Muslim community, she said: “A
lot of Mosul’s inhabitants have worked together with Daesh-jihadists for
three years, and some might have relatives or family members who were
with Daesh. There are a lot of Sunnis, who often supported Daesh.”
She added: “The city was released by the Iraqi army, which is
supported by many Iranian Shi’a. In Mosul, they are met with a lot of
distrust – they aren’t seen as allies.”
She said: “For me, the city has not become safe since the recapture of Mosul.”
Describing the situation in the city, Ms Butti said: “It is still
extremely dangerous in Mosul. I just spoke to a police officer who lost a
colleague this week, near St George’s Monastery. He was shot at night.”
Extremists are still seen as a threat by Christians. Jihadist
graffiti on a wall of the devastated 17th century monastery states
‘Daesh will always remain in Iraq’.
The Islamist group also marked another wall with an arrow pointing towards Mecca so prayers could be recited five times a day.
The destruction has been extensive. The monastery’s dome is now
tilted and floors, walls, and arches have been stripped of the marble
panels. Gravestones in the monastery cemetery have been smashed, the
church’s altar destroyed and a 14th century statue beheaded.
Ms Butti also visited the damaged Church of the Holy Spirit, where
church walls are marked with graffiti which reads ‘Long lives the
Since the church’s liberation in April last year, the ruins have
provided shelter for four internally displaced families from Zummar,
northern Iraq – each family lives in a separate room of the church.
Ms Butti said: “Now, Daesh have robbed every church, demolished them and covered them with texts.”
At her own place of worship, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Saint
Ephraim, Ms Butti said: “I can’t believe my eyes when I see what Daesh
has done to my church. I’m not sure my church will ever be fully
restored… the reconstruction of this church will cost a lot of money and
energy, and for whom are we rebuilding it? All the Christians have left
But seeing an image of Christ’s face, she added: “When I just looked
up, I suddenly felt intense happiness. I saw that the blue dome with
Jesus’s image had survived the occupation of Daesh reasonably well. And,
although not much of its beauty has remained, this image shows how
beautiful my church was. The jihadists have only been able to destroy
the edges of the picture. Seeing Jesus above me, in this destroyed
church, gave me great joy.”
ACN is supporting thousands of returning Christians to their towns
and villages in the Nineveh Plains of northern Iraq, including the
rebuilding of more than 780 families’ homes.