As tensions remain high in Iraq and its neighboring states, a particular sector of the country’s religious is seeking help from an unlikely source. Iraqi Christians are reportedly clamoring for Russia, and its controversial leader, Vladimir Putin, according to The Daily Beast.
Iraqi Christians, an often target of political and religious persecutions in the Middle Eastern country, are looking up to Russia and Putin to save them from the miseries of terror and war in the predominantly Muslim country. Ashur Giwargis heads the Assyrian Patriotic Movement, a political party that has requested Moscow for years to aid them in establishing a Christian state in the northern parts of Iraq. Girwagis has high hopes for Moscow’s support, saying that Russia has been historically a primary defender of Christians and of the Christian faith. Currently in exile, Girwagis has yet to show proof that Putin’s Russia will be helping them with their goals although recently, Russia summoned Girwagis to Moscow to reassure him once again of Putin’s support of the Assyrian cause.
“They assured their support for the Assyrian cause, but we’re looking for a serious Russian stand in the international arena,”
One victim of religious oppression in the capital Baghdad is Ramy Youssef, an IT professional who had to close his shop and leave the city because of the death threats he had been receiving:
“I don’t want to leave. I don’t want these terrorists to do what no one’s ever done before: push Assyrians out of our historic homeland, but I can’t work like this.”
Youssef, who is planning to follow 1.5 million Iraqi Christians who have left the country due to intolerable tensions, placed the blame on the West, who he perceived is indirectly causing the country-wide slaughter of Christians in Iraq:
“This is America’s fault. It’s the Muslims who are killing us, but this never would have happened if the West hadn’t turned our lives upside down. Maybe we’ll be able to return one day if we have proper allies.”
And by “proper allies”, many Iraqi Christians are referring to Russia, who they believe is one of the few, remaining hopes for minorities like them.
Aziz Emmanuel al-Zebari, a Chaldean Catholic church official, said in anger:
“The West is not Christian. They destroyed us by installing a government based on Islamic sects in which we have no place,”
Christians from the country are moving to Kurdistan to seek refuge from the raging threat of the ISIS, according to CBC. For a few of them who would still like to return, Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, is their only remaining ticket back home.
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