The decree issued by the Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council

Love in Iraq

Two extraordinary statements came out of Iraq this week. The first is a decree (pictured above) from the Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council. It says that children born of Yazidi women raped by ISIS members should be welcome in the Yazidi community. Recent reports from Syria suggest that some Yazidi women are staying away from their ancient home of Sinjar in northern Iraq. This is because they don’t want to be separated from their children. They fear being forced to put them up for adoption. The women also fear being stigmatised by members of their own community. The council had proposed that both the children and their mothers would be supported. However, following pressure from some in the Yazidi community, this offer has been rescinded.

In a part of the world where rape victims are often shunned as “unclean”, victims are often left to fend for themselves. Some in the Yazidi community will find it hard to accept children whose fathers were responsible for the genocide of Yazidi men. As we know from our recent trip to Iraq, mass graves of Yazidi victims are still being discovered. Each discovery brings new pain. Furthermore, many children were indoctrinated into ISIS from the time they were cognisant and it remains to be seen whether or not they will embrace their new community.

We pray the Yazidi leadership will have the courage of their convictions and uphold their decree so that these women can be supported. We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the work of a small charity called MedEast which is providing refuge for Yazidi women and their children. The love they have shown is remarkable.

Hate in Iraq

A man purporting to be ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, appearing in a new propaganda video which was released by ISIS this week

The other statement came from a man purporting to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. The self-styled “Phantom” was last seen five years ago in the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul where, before a crowd of loyal supporters, he proclaimed the establishment of a new caliphate. Since then, Baghdadi’s whereabouts have been a mystery. There have been rumours of his death and reports earlier this year that a coup by foreign fighters failed to oust the ailing “caliph”. In this latest video however, Baghdadi makes clear that he is still in charge of ISIS and that other Islamist groups are flocking to his banner. 

Ominously, Baghdadi vows to seek revenge for the loss of the ISIS caliphate. He claims the Sri Lanka attacks were carried out at his command and says there will be more attacks to come. Instead of a ground war against coalition forces, ISIS and its fellow travellers now seek to kill and maim civilians through indiscriminate acts of violence. It is unclear what the end goal is. Perhaps it is a yearning to punish the West for its military intervention. Perhaps it is a desire to kill infidels, including Muslims who do not support its homicidal brand of Salafism.

We are on the side of love

Fr. Faez Jirjees addressing the congregation at St. George’s in Baghdad

We are working with those in Iraq who repudiate hatred and sectarianism. With your help, we support the ministry of Faez Jirjees who continues to work across sectarian lines engaging with leaders from both Sunni and Shia factions. In next week’s update we will share an exclusive video of Faez speaking to a group of religious leaders in Baghdad. Thanks to donations from across the world, we are funding the ministry of St George’s in Baghdad. We also provide vital support for Iraq’s beleaguered minorities. In this way we hope to demonstrate the triumph of love over hate as expressed in Romans 12 verse 21 – ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’.

How to make a donation

To support our work in Iraq and Jordan, please make a donation now via our donate page (there are numerous options for how to donate). Or you can send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom. Thank you!

American supporters can make a donation via our sister charity here.