BASRA, Iraq — In Iraq, it is not uncommon for Muslim families to visit churches for various reasons, such as seeking blessings, healing, or praying for prosperity. Recently, Rudaw Media Network reported that many Muslim families, particularly women and girls, have been visiting the Syriac Catholic Church of Jesus Sacred Heart in Basra, Southern Iraq, which reflects the strong community cohesion in the area.
Alaa Talal Yassin, a staff member at the University of Baghdad, spoke with Rudaw and shared that visiting churches has been a tradition for Iraqi families since childhood. “Especially on feasts, we used to light candles,” Yassin stated. “Christians receive us in churches with the warmest welcome.”
Another visitor, Iqbal La’ibi, expressed her comfort and satisfaction while visiting the church. “I light candles and pray to get what I want,” she said.
According to Rudaw, Pastor Butros Abo has called on Christians who left Basra to return to their homes. He also noted that the church welcomes people from all denominations for supplication.
Unfortunately, the number of remaining Christian families in Basra is limited. After the US war in Iraq, most of the 17 churches in the area were abandoned, and many Christian families migrated to other places in the country such as Baghdad and Erbil. The person in charge of the Church of Jesus Sacred Heart, Father Yusef Aziz Yusef, estimated that there are only 175 families left in the area.