“I don’t want to drop my dream. I always want to keep our hope alive, that someone will help us, will accept us. I cannot imagine that I will accept life here,” she said, and the tears begin. “I am tired. I cannot take it any more. I want to continue to dream.”
His expectation is inked into his right wrist.
In his student days in the first half of the decade, Ihab had begun to get a tattoo that would have portrayed a crown of thorns wrapped around his wrist. It was to be a sign of his devotion to Christ. It also would have made him recognizable on the street as a Christian.
“It’s very, very difficult to turn back to Iraq, impossible to turn back,” Toma Georgees told The Catholic Register in his apartment in the Geremana neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria. “Our problem is not with the Iraqi government. Our problem is with Iraqi people, ignorant people who want to kill us, who want to kill all the Christians... Those people are ignorant, and they just want to drink our blood as Christians.”
You don’t need to know a word of old Syriac or Aramaean, not a word of Arabic. You don’t need to know the stories of kidnappings, death threats or the desperate flight to the border. You don’t need to know how these people have lived for years in exile on borrowed money, tea, sugar and bread.
From the moment you walk into a church filled with Iraqi refugees in Syria or Lebanon their faith, their devotion, their steadfast love of God is as real, as concrete, visible and tangible as the walls of the church.
Beirut / Damascus - In 2006 there was an explosion at the church where Zuhaila Mikha’s husband used to help out. Ramzi was killed. Then in July, 2007 Mikha’s 19-year-old daughter was kidnapped. After two months of asking police and hospitals for information about her daughter she got word from her neighbour: “Let your neighbour know she should not go to the police or we will kill her.”
She moved from Mosul to the nearby Christian village of Tel Eskoff. But after nine months trapped in the village — running out of money, afraid to go to the city, afraid to let her children out of her sight — it was time to get out of Iraq.
Fawaz Fatohi received an envelope at his home containing a knife and an anonymous letter: “If you don’t leave Iraq, you will be killed.”
Fatohi is an Iraqi Christian. He was raising a young family in Baghdad when the death threat arrived. Soon thereafter he was among an estimated half-million Iraqi Christians who had fled for their lives. He eventually found refuge in Canada, leaving behind his forsaken brothers in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.