Iraq Muslims Shield Christians

 From IslamOnline.net, an important and moving story about how some Muslims are protecting and embracing their Christian neighbors during the current war, during which many Christians have unfortunately faced persecution and many (like many Muslims in Iraq) have been forced to flee from their homes and/or their country.

Iraq Muslims Shield Christians

By  Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent

BAGHDAD — When Bashar Paulo and his family received threats from extremists to leave their home, the Iraqi Christian immediately turned to his longtime friend.

“Mohammad’s family has been behaving like angles with us,” Paulo told IslamOnline.net.

“When he first asked me to live with them, I was surprised as everyone here was afraid to be near Christians, scared to be targeted by insurgents,” he added.

“But they were different and gave us all support possible in this world.”

When Paulo phoned his neighbor for more than 15 years asking for help, Azir, a Baghdad clinician, did not hesitate for a second.

“I told him to pack and go away from there as fast as he could and come to my home where we were going to wait for him with love and care,” Azir told IOL.

Christians have lived side-by-side with Muslims and other religious groups in Iraq for centuries.

 

Mainly-Christian areas like Karrada were once among the wealthiest in the capital Baghdad.

But thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes under threats from militant groups.

True Islam

Since being forced to leave his job, Paulo and his family has been depending on Azir for their survival.

“I try not to make a difference between my sons and his sons,” says Azir.

“When I bring anything it is always divided equally so Paulo and his family would never feel rejected.”

The Muslim and Christian families have been living under the same roof for more than a year now.

Azir says that by lending a helping hand to Paulo’s family, he was simply following the teaching of his religion.

“Islam teaches us that we have to help people next to us whatever their beliefs are,” he said.

Paulo says that his dilemma has proven true his long-held view about Islam.

“I was always sure that Islam was a good religion and everything was happening to us didn’t have anything to do with the true Muslims,” he told IOL.

“I’m happy to say that my best friend is a Muslim and will be proud of this my whole life.”

United

The Paulo-Azir story is not a rare example.

Selima Anuar, the head of a local Christian organization, says most of the aid her group receives comes from Muslims, whether inside Iraq or abroad.

“Shiite and Sunni, whatever their belief, they are trying to help,” Anuar told IOL.

She was surprised at first to see Muslims reaching out and trying to protect Christians.

“But latter I understood that to be a Muslim, you have to help an individual in need, without looking at his past or belief.”

In many cases, she says, Christians hide inside Muslims houses, just like what happened with Paulo.

Zaineb Khoury, for example, hosted two Christian families in her home more than six months ago.

“I had two families here with me for a long time,” she said.

“One was the family of my daughter’s colleague at school and the other was a neighbor,” he explained.

“Both were threatened to leave Iraq but didn’t have money to go so we decided to help by having them in our home until they raised enough money to leave.”

Khoury, 35, said she was acting to show the truth about her religion.

“The true Muslim is against any unmerciful acts. We should help the ones next to us irrespective of origin or religion.”

The article is here.

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