Sanctuary

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“My older daughter started university in 2004, and in 2007, she received threats because she would not wear the hijab on campus. At that point, her father and I told her she shouldn’t go to university any more. We only have those two daughters. But she didn’t accept it, she wanted to go to university. She said, “This is my future,” and so she kept going to university wearing the hijab.

“We used to go to church, visit our family, go to our jobs. We weren’t afraid. But after the several wars we had in Iraq, people started to emigrate. There are very few Christians left and even the Muslims are emigrating. We could not live submitted like this. We were given choices, but we wanted to live as human beings, to be free and decide what we wan to do with out lives. If we didn’t have this faith we would have stayed and compromised. But we trusted in God. We do have moments of discomfort and we complain, but God always gives us hope. Whenever we think properly about things, we realize that our desperation is not reasonable and God consoles us in so many ways. My faith in Him is very strong. I know he doesn’t leave us.”

–Ikhlas, from Mosul, Iraq. Now living in Amman, Jordan.

I almost didn’t want to post this pic because there’s another one, of her & her husband, very natty & happy, on their way to church; this sad pic is not the full story; sadness is not the full story of any of these refugees. But it’s what I got. The rest of the exhibit was up two weekends ago at New York Encounter.

Adam, who was the exhibit guide, and one of the handful of friends who went over there to document what’s going on– to tell stories of the refugees from Syria & Iraq– said that if what happened to them had happened to him, he would ask whether God had abandoned him. But when he talked to them about this, he was met with a blank: “What do you mean? I’m here right now, therefore He’s here with me.”

120K Christians have been driven out of the Plains of Nineveh: convert or pay the jizya or leave or die. “Not a single one converted or paid the tax,” said Adam.

The pics below are– well, they’re some of the materials from the exhibit, but they don’t in the least do it justice.   Marta Zaknoun, the journalist who spearheaded the project, is working with her team to bring the exhibit to different cities, to introduce more people to the political and historical background of these refugees’ situation– but above all to introduce them to the people themselves, to their faces, their words, their stories.

If you’d like to get in touch with her to bring this exhibit to your city, please contact me on Facebook.

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