Iraqi Christian child asks God to 'forgive' ISIS

by Joni B. Hannigan , Editorial Staff |

(Photo by Joni B. Hannigan)Iraqi children speak to a westerner at Tablo Mall, the largest shopping mall in Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq, in September, 2011, just prior to the pullout of American troops in the region. Unfinished malls in the rapidly developing northern area of Iraq have been flooded with Christian and other minority refugees escaping from ISIS.

ERBIL, Kurdistan, Iraq (Christian Examiner) -- At an unfinished mall where scores of refugees are crammed into shell-like storefronts devoid of color or glass – a child tells a reporter she asks God to forgive ISIS.

It's an unlikely thought -- but not altogether unusual in this place where families gather. These are the Christians who have survived ISIS and escaped from once comfortable villages like Qaraqosh, Bartella and Kharamles.

They were terrorized by ISIS after the radicals swept through Mosul with little resistance, using weaponry that had been given to the Iraqi army by the United States when the U.S. pulled out, according to a story in the Middle East Monitor.

Now they are living in a half-built mall lined with foam mattresses and blue blankets handed out by humanitarian agencies. They are tens of thousands of displaced Christians and other ethnic minorities in the Muslim-dominated country with rare answers about viable futures in their war-torn country.

Still, smiling children tell a reporter from a Christian news station they are doing good and when he asks what they miss the most, one little girl, about 10, speaks clearly on a video in Arabic translated with English subtitles.

Watch the video here:

"Our school and our church," Flourine, clad in a grey sweatsuit, replies.

A slightly older child adds: "Jesus will be here with us no matter where we go!" and nods "yes" when the reporter asks, "even here in this camp?"

"Where is Jesus?" he inquires, looking around.

"In our hearts," the girls reply, in chorus.

Exchanging smiles and questions with another child about a children's program the station airs and what she misses from her home village of Qaraqoush, Myriam said she missed her home -- but is thankful nonetheless despite her current situation.

"But thank God, God provides for us," Myriam smiled. Asking her to explain, the reporter holds his microphone to her small face while she hesitates only momentarily.

"God loves us, and wouldn't let ISIS kill us," the child says.

Asked what she would do to those who drove her from her home -- Myriam, who describes herself as being first in her class at her former school in Qaraqoush -- says she wouldn't do anything to her oppressors.

"I will only ask God to forgive them," she said of ISIS.

Thanking the reporter for speaking with her, Myriam tells him "shukran" using the Arabic word for "thank you"– and he thanks her for teaching him.

Myriam tells the reporter he taught her, but changes her mind and said: "You didn't teach me, you felt for me. I had some feelings, and I wanted people to know how I feel."

The video ends with a small crowd of children gathered at the entrance of the mall singing and clapping: "My love for my glorious Savior will increase with each new day. A new life, a happy day. The day I unite with the Lord."

A tiny, lone drummer stands at the front.

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