Almost two years after a SAT-7 interview with 10-year-old Iraqi girl Myriam went viral, as she forgave ISIS for driving her out of her home, she now tells the channel she can’t wait to go home after the liberation of Mosul.
Myriam and her family spoke from the Erbil suburb of Ankawa, where excitement soars among the tens of thousands of displaced Christians. After news that Iraqi coalition troops were retaking Christian villages previously overrun by so-called Islamic State, (IS) hundreds celebrated outside Mar Elias Church.
SAT-7 Presenter Essam Nagy first spoke to Myriam in December 2014 in a reporting visit to Erbil. Myriam’s words of
forgiveness for Islamic State (IS), who had driven her family to flee first from Qaraqosh and then from Mosul, drew attention and praise from Middle East news sites as well as sites in the West.
Last Friday, October 21, Myriam was live on a SAT-7 children’s program a day after Bartella, a Christian town close to Qaraqosh, had been retaken. “Surely I am happy and joyful to return home and see my friends who didn’t leave,” Myriam said. “I’ll get to see them again. I’ll see my home and my country again, the place that I love.”
Myriam’s father, Waleed, compared the excitement in Ankawa with the joy they will have when they return home: “If they are that joyful in Ankawa, then how will it be when 40,000 persons return to their homes? Imagine the joy we will feel!”
Nagy commented on Waleed’s “abundant peace” and asked if this would grow when he returned home. Waleed said no: “Peace is the peace of Jesus and not worldly peace,” he said. “Peace isn’t in a house or in the land. Even in fire you can have the peace of Jesus. As long as we have it we will be stronger than those who threw us out. When you love Jesus, no one can conquer you.”
Father Thabet, a priest from Mosul, spoke to SAT-7’s Bridges program last weekend. He stressed that a lot needed to be done before the people could be encouraged to go home. “We need to make sure the liberation process is final, the area is secure, and the path to return is safe as well as adjust the infrastructure and stabilize the economic situation.”
Myriam’s family originally fled to the city of Mosul with most of the Christian population of Qaraqosh, 20 miles to the south-east. All but a few families of Mosul’s Christians fled the city when Islamic State overran it in July, 2014. Last Tuesday (October 18) the first reports came that Kurdish troops had entered Qaraqosh and the nearby Christian town of Karamlash. On Saturday (October 22) government-allied troops retook the center of Qaraqosh but on October 26 they were still meeting resistance from scattered ISIS units in the town.
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