IRAQ: Six years later, Father Karam Shamasha returns to Nineveh Plains

NINEVEH PLAINS, Iraq — Six years after he emigrated from Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq to Rome, fleeing the advances of the Islamic State, Father Karam Shamasha returned to his hometown Syriac-Chaldean town of Telsquf.

“Our presence in this country is not only religious, it is also educational,” said Father Shamasha upon his return. “We have the task of creating a peaceful atmosphere in this country, and proving our faith, love and serenity, that there are ways to live beyond violence and war.”

Earlier this week, Father Shamasha discussed the challenges Christians still face in their ancestral homeland. “ISIS has not disappeared,” he said, “we have many problems including religious problems, because the mentality has not yet been eliminated.”

Father Shamasha also urged Christians in the West not to take religious freedom for granted, noting that when believers in Iraq hear of terrorist attacks in countries such as France or Austria, they are panicking because if they happen in countries with strong governments and laws, what is left for countries facing political instability.