Christians in Iraq

Penny Young investigates the situation of one of the country’s less-commonly mentioned communities.

I had three wonderful days in Mosul before coming on here ... One of the nicest was among the old Christian villages ... Karakosh, the Syriac village, was especially fascinating in itself, because of its old churches dotted round. I was all alone and went about with most of the population, looking at the very primitive churches which had to be opened with huge keys.

Thus wrote the intrepid traveller, Freya Stark, sitting in a tent in northern Iraq on March 21st, 1930. Stark described the Christian women dressed in long gowns of pink, red and blue, a yellow and orange cloak tied on one shoulder. On their heads they wore veils and beads over a small turban with a band of gold coins. Their necks were swathed in a wimple with gold beads under the chin. ‘These visions were all out picnicking and playing in groups on the green grass outside the mud walls of the village,’ she went on in her letter.

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