ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Christians on Monday gathered in the village of Bediyal in the Barzan area to celebrate Saint George’s day.
The parish congregated in a small Christian village called Bediyal, located in the Barzan area in the province of Erbil.
The community is made up of a small Christian population and two churches, one of which is 1,600 years old and named after Mar Georgis (Saint George).
“On this day, we visit all our churches in the area, pray, and take part in religious ceremonies and celebrations,” the priest of Soran and Mergasor area told Kurdistan24.
Rebar Kaniboti, a Kurdish Muslim who organizes activities and celebrations for Christians in the area, told Kurdistan24 the culture of peaceful co-existence has existed in Kurdistan for generations.
“We want to preserve this culture,” he explained.
In a show of solidarity with Christians in the region and the insecurity they face in Iraq, Kurdish officials including Members of Parliament attended the event.
Following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq in June 2014, hundreds of thousands of Christians from various parts of Iraq fled to the Kurdistan Region. Others sought refuge abroad.
According to Khalid Jamal Albert, the General Director of Christian Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Kurdistan is now home to almost 320,000 Christians living in different provinces.
Editing by G. H. Renaud and Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Tayfur Mohammed)