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Apr. 30, 2018
   

Chaldean priest: the slow rebirth of Mosul after Isis

"After the fear" young Christians, Yazidi and Sabei are returning "to crowd" the classrooms of the city’s university. Many travel tens of kilometers to attend the lessons. Fr. Paul: economic problems remain, but people want to "go out, live". Emirates donate 50 million for the reconstruction of the great mosque of al-Nuri.

Mosul (AsiaNews) - In Mosul and on the Nineveh Plain "life is slowly returning to normal". Young university students, Christians and not "every day make the journey" that separates them from their lodgings in the towns of the plain to the university, in the east of the metropolis of northern Iraq to follow courses and lessons.

This is what Fr. Paul Thabit Mekko tells AsiaNews, describing the "slow but joyful" work of rebirth of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain , less than a year after the former stronghold and capital of the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis) was retaken. "Even the economic and commercial activities - he adds - even though they are going through a thousand hardships and difficulties, are starting up again".

After years of violence and terror perpetrated by the Daesh militias [Arabic acronym for IS], today "in the eastern sector of Mosul life is normal" and it is also "much easier to move within the western districts". "Even in the Nineveh Plain - continues Fr. Paul - we have returned to live the Easter holidays as in the past. Crowded churches, packed processions. In Karamles we used a large hall for mass, because the church is not ready yet ".

From university halls to factories, from commercial activities to small businesses, the rebirth of the north of the country passes through the revival of "school and work". "Years of violence, war, terror - says the priest - have created a huge gap. Some of the people are back, but they are not as before, the activities are slow and need a qualitative leap. Of course - he observes - the Iraqi economy in general is experiencing difficulties, but here the problems are greater".

The poor rainfall in recent months has thwarted a large part of the harvest and the farmers do not hide their concerns. "Much of the harvest – Fr. Paul confirms – is gone" and this too "has a reflection on the economic situation. Factories for building materials are still too few and the funds are insufficient, many construction sites are at a standstill. For a true revival of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain it is essential that all those who have fled in the past return. Rebirth can and must be founded on people ".

With a view to reconstruction, today the United Arab Emirates (Eau) announced the allocation of 50 million dollars to contribute to the reconstruction of the great mosque of al-Nuri, destroyed by the men of the Caliphate. This is where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered his famous speech and whichthe jihadists ravaged three years later, at the height of the Iraqi army offensive. What remains today of the structure are the base of the minaret and the dome with some columns.

Meanwhile, the University of Mosul has resumed activities, welcoming Christian, Yazidi and Sabean students. After the bombs, the proclamations of the jihad and the repeated violations of human rights, today books, computers and students eager to build a future and participate actively in the revival of the country have returned. Each according to their own cultural, ethnic and religious tradition, to revive "that unique mosaic represented by Iraq" as defined by the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako.

Today there are at least 3 thousand young students from the religious minorities attending the University of Mosul, where signs of damage are still visible. Of course, less than there were before the rise of the jihadist militiamen but still a first step towards a return to normality. "The university has fully resumed activities - confirms the Chaldean priest - and the students, including Christians, hosted by the Archdiocese of Kirkuk in recent years, have returned to class". Some of make the 90-kilometer-long journey from Kurdistan to Mosul every day, while others are housed in dormitories and centers set up by the Church in the small towns of Nineveh, including Qaraqosh and Karamles.

Fr. Paul recalls: "At the beginning the students were afraid of going back to university, they were worried about their safety. We encouraged them and after coming back they experienced new happiness. Now the name of Mosul is no longer a source of terror, they feel like university students from all over the world, busy studying to build a future. And even if the structure is not yet completely adequate, the desire to be reborn is evident and even the danger of attacks seems to be a thing of the past ". "People - he concludes - want to go out, live, attend cultural activities ... they want to leave Daesh in the past".