Christian IDP to IS: Life cannot stop!
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Christians in the Kurdistan Region sent a challenging message to the Islamic State (IS) in Christmas celebrations this year. Rami Hanna, a refugee Christian from Mosul, said on Friday that he is celebrating Christmas in the Kurdistan Region to tell IS they cannot stop life.
This year nearly 1000 Christians gathered in Babylon Media arena, decorated with coruscating light beams and music, to celebrate Christmas together. "The celebration will continue for five nights”, Salwan Zaito, the CEO of Babylon Media said. There was a live concert by popular local singers, food, drinks and dance. Young Christians came in groups to enjoy the night. Among them, there were Christians from Mosul and surrounding areas who fled to the Kurdistan Region because of the threat from IS.
Zaito said, “We have arranged this event to bring all Christians in Erbil together, either locals or IDPs.” He added, “We want to bring them all together. They come from different places in Iraq, with different cultures and languages.” Zaito continued, “We call it the Babylon community. We have more than 8500 Christian members now.”
He mentioned that IS militants were only about 50 kilometers away from Erbil, but they celebrated Christmas in the safety of Kurdistan in Ankawa, the Christian-populated district of Erbil. He stated, “By this [celebration] we challenge IS.”
Rabi’e, a 25-year-old Christian who fled Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town which was attacked by IS before, said, “I feel happy when I see all these Christians celebrate together.” He continued, “I saw people [Christians] from Qaraqosh, Mosul, Kirkuk and Ankawa. All these Christians come to celebrate here. That is good.”
Rabi’e had seen some of his friends from around Mosul during the Christmas party in Erbil. He said, “I feel happy and sad at the same time when I see friends from my hometown.” He continued with a low tone, “Because before I used to see my friends at my own home. Now we are refugees because of IS.”
Hanna, 27, believed this year’s Christmas celebration had a special message to IS. “Our message to IS is we love life and life cannot stop.”