Annual Branch Meeting

"Christian Life in Iraq Today"

  Branch Meeting Newtownards
Alan Hayward (Chairman of St Mark's Branch) introduces the speaker
  The Annual Branch Meeting was held in St St Mark's, Newtownards on Monday 9 November 2015. Our speaker told us about the ancient Biblical heritage of Northern Iraq. Nineveh had been the capital of the Assyrian empire and was associated with Jonah. Assyrians were a nation 400 years before Islam appeared. Assyrian was the local language but education was in Arabic.

Saddam Hussein led a secular government which allowed the various religions to build places of worship and to practice their religion, provided they did not try to remove him from power. The American and British invasion removed Saddam from power and created a vacuum. There is now no centralised rule of law and each town has its own "protectors".

Islamic State has capitalised on this vacuum to extend their rule. Non-Muslims can convert to Islam, leave or be killed. IS place a mark on houses of Christians to show they belong to IS and the inhabitants have to pay a charge to IS. Of the 350 churches in iraq today there are only 50. 

Yazidis in Northern Iraq have their own customs and religion. Starting in August 2014 they have been targeted by IS to rid Iraq and neighboring countries of non-Islamic influences. 3000 women have been captured and sold as slaves who can be bought and sold.

JK Chesterton to the question "What is wrong with the world?" replied "I am". The problem is who to support - you may find one group most agreeable but they may like another group you dislike. it is as clear as mud.

In 1990 the Muslim population in Europe was 30 million, in 2010 it was 44 million, and it is estimated that in 2030 it will be 58 million.

Members found the talk most interesting in the light of the current situation in Iraq and Syria.

Many thanks to Newtownards Branch for hosting the event.
  Members listen to the talk