February 13, 2013
Can Iraqi Christians Afford Refuge in Kurdistan?
Conference of Christian leaders says yes; journalist who recently visited says no.
Following a fact-finding trip to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, a group of American religious leaders reports that the faith community in Kurdistan "is a success story that is still being told." This could offer hope for Iraqi Christians seeking a home in a war-ravaged, dangerous religious climate.
This analysis was bolstered by news that Kirkuk city authorities will soon open the "first Christian cultural centre in Iraq in decades, despite dramatic decline in [its] once significant Christian population."
But not everyone is so optimistic. According to Star Tribune journalist Matteo Fagotto, who recently visited Kurdistan, "many [Christians] are now abandoning the region" due to economic uncertainty.
"What was once a safe haven for Christians is rapidly turning into the departure point for tens of thousands who feel they don’t have a future in their own country," wrote Fagotto. "Hampered by a lack of economic opportunity, linguistic and cultural barriers, and with no proper political protection, more and more Christians are now abandoning Kurdistan—and Iraq."
CT has previously reported on "religicide" in Iraq, which triggered the exodus of Christians from the country's major cities. In spite of such poor conditions, several Iraqi ministries have seen a surge in growth, suggesting that its Christian community has not totally abandoned the country yet.