NINEVEH PLAINS: Yazidis embrace Syriac-Chaldean Mor Odisho church in Nasira, Alqosh

NASIRA / ALQOSH, Iraq – The Mor Odisho church of the Chaldean Church of Babylon in the village of Nasira, district of Alqosh, was built in 1880 and testifies of the Syriac presence and identity in the village. The village of Nasira was evacuated by Syriac Chaldeans decades ago. In a sign of religious connectedness and affection, Yazidi villagers are embracing and taking care of the Mor Odisho church.

The Mor Odisho church is in good condition and the Yazidi villagers maintain the church well as for them the church is a house of worship and a symbol of religious coexistence. Yazidis speak predominantly Kurmancî and practice a monotheistic faith with (ancient) elements of syncretism with other Abrahamic religions. The devout Nasira villagers keep the church clean, open its doors and every Sunday they lit candles in the church.

Narmo Xayyo, mayor of Nasira village and who lived through the recent history of the church, told Şafaaq News Agency, “The Christians left the village. We keep it clean, keep it in good condition and every Sunday we lit candles in the church. Yazidis come to visit the church to receive sanctity from it.”

Devout Yazidi Nawzad Hasan told Şafaaq News about the history of the Mor Odisho church, “this church was established in 1880. In 1956 we settled in the village of Nasira when the church was still in a good state. We as Yazidis continue the sanctity of this church as the church represents a house of worship of the Christian religion.”

He also said that in earlier days the Yazidis participated in prayers and rituals in the Mor Odisho church. On the visits by Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians to the Mor Odisho church, “before the ISIS terrorists took over the Nineveh Plain in 2014, the Christians of the Nineveh Plain came to visit the church regularly. After the liberation of the Nineveh Plain the visits by Christians stopped.”

Yazidis have their biggest presence in the Middle East in Iraq. And estimated 400 to 500 thousands Yazidis live primarily in the Nineveh Governate (Sinjar) and the Nohadra (Dohuk) Governate. The Yazidis, together with the other peoples of Sinjar of Nineveh Plain and Mosul, suffered genocide and displacement by the hands of ISIS. Their situation in Sinjar and North Iraq is still lamentable.

In the new government of Prime Minister al-Khadimi, Yazidis did not get a seat.