With Each New Upheaval In Iraq, More Minorities Flee

Northern Iraq is a lot more diverse than just Arabs and Kurds or Sunni and Shiite. For centuries, it has been home to multiple religious groups with ancient roots in the region.

But more than a decade of turmoil has driven many religious minorities out, with the most recent example being the onslaught of the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants, or ISIS.

The scene recently at the humble Mar Yusef church in the northern city of Dohuk encapsulates the situation. The denominations worship in shifts. Chaldean Christians at 6 p.m., followed by Orthodox an hour later and then the Syriacs.

Their clergy, in distinctive robes and hats particular to their fold, greet the faithful at the modest house of worship on a side street in a predominantly Kurdish town. The wooden pews are rough, space heaters provide warmth and a twinkling Christmas tree marks the season.

But now attendance is sparse because so many Christians have already left Iraq.

Read more at NPR

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