BARTELLA, NINEVEH PLAINS – In another push for demographic change, Shiite Arabs in the Nineveh Plains keep intimidating Syriacs in the town of Bartella. On May 31, employees of Shiite TV station Al-Forat entered the Syriac Orthodox Mort Shmuni Church in Bartella without permission and placed an image of killed Popular Mobilization Forces’ (PMF) leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis next to the Bible of the church. Al-Muhandis was killed at Baghdad International Airport in January 2020 by the United States next to Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Al-Quds Force, part of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Al-Forat is the mouthpiece of the political party Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and owned by owned by Shiite cleric and politician Ammar al-Hakim.
According to Anakwa news website, the Al-Forat TV employees entered the Mort Shmuni Church without permission from its clergy. Father Jacob Jibo was Father David Dusha, both not in Bartella at that moment, were shocked when they received the news. Priest David Dusha commented in outrage, “These people who forcibly enter the House of God pretend to work for peace. However, hate has entered their hearts and their intentions are evil. This is all evident from their dirty campaign.”
The action of intimidation evokes memories to another intimidation by Shiite Shabaks on Christmas 2011, which coincided with the Shia holiday of Ashura. A group of Shiite Shabaks entered the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Bartella and wanted to put the sign of Ashura in the courtyard of the church.
In a successful push for demographic change, the Iran-backed Shiite Arab Shabak community in Iraq are given houses and agricultural lands in the former pre-dominantly Syriac town of Bartella. The Shabaks are fully supported by the Iran and its proxy PMF militias who control most of the Nineveh Plain. The placing of the Al-Muhandis’ image next to the Church Bible, is yet another incident in a long series of intimation intended to chase Syriacs out of Bartella and the Niineveh Plains.
Parish priest doesn't know who placed it there. Placing his picture on the alter, beside the Holy Book is extremely disturbing. pic.twitter.com/bTlRd3s9Pf
— Evon Sorisho – ܕܢܘ ܣܒ݂ܪܝܫܘܥ (@DannoSwo) May 31, 2021
For the article in Syriac see SyriacPress Syriac