IRAQ PROTESTS RESUME AS NEW GOVERNMENT SWORN IN
On Saturday 9 May, Iraq’s protesters returned to the streets of Baghdad and other southern cities to oppose the new government of Mustafa al-Kadhimi, sworn in on Thursday 7 May, after months of political deadlock. Despite Mr al-Kadhimi’s decisions to release previously imprisoned protesters, and promote a well-respected Iraqi general to lead counter-terrorism operations against a resurgent Islamic State, anti-government protesters remained unconvinced. Protests first erupted in October 2019 to decry rampant government corruption, unemployment, and poor services. It petered out with the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, but the appointment of Mr al-Kadhimi from within the existing political establishment, has reignited protesters’ fury.
From a Christian perspective, peace is often cited as the “only hope” for a beleaguered Christian remnant in Iraq. But, this is not necessarily the case. Christian numbers have been dramatically reduced by war and the terror tactics of the Islamic State group. However, it was in the midst of these tumultuous years that the Catholic University in Erbil (CUE) was established (2015). It was fundamentally founded to declare the presence of Christianity in Iraq. For over 1,400 years in Iraq and most of the Middle East, Christian proselytising has been forbidden. There was an unwritten understanding that the Christians would not overtly proselytise and share the gospel, but be indirect and not offend sharia law. However, according to the CUE founder, Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda, this agreement is now finished. He declared: “As we go forward, we will no longer be shy. We are going to proclaim the gospel, proclaim the teachings of Christ, and whoever comes to us will come.”
Pray with us for the following:
- For the Lord to use the protests to bring about lasting change in the nation
- For Iraqi Christians to be beacons of hope and light amid the ongoing upheaval
- For believers to be bold in their witness and sharing of the Gospel
Image: REUTERS/Khalid Al Mousily