All active news articles
His life interrupted by ISIS, a young Chaldean Iraq takes up arms
"I was just sitting at home, desperate, having too much time to think, going back over bad memories and watching my family struggle without being able to do anything about it,"
By ACN Staff
KIRKUK (Kurdish Iraq)—Noor is a 21 year-old young man from Qaraqosh, the major Christian city on Iraq’s Nineveh Plane, whose Christian community was driven out by ISIS in the summer of 2014. His name is considered very special: used for both girls and boys, it means “light.“ Like many in his community, particularly men, he wants to study to become a doctor after contemplating law earlier. Neither is going to happen for the foreseeable future.
In August of last year, ISIS terror forced Noor and his family to undertake a harsh and hazardous journey through the desert, which eventually brought them to Kirkuk, at the suggestion of distant relatives who were able to feed, if not house, the newcomers for a spell. For the past eight months, Noor and his family have been living in a Church-owned elementary school, along with scores of other refugees from their home town.
Like most of the Christian men in Kirkuk, Noor has been unable to find a job all this time. This state of affairs—worsened by not being able to speak Kurdish, as well as a measure of hostility and suspicion on the part of the locals—brought him to a radical decision: “I was just sitting at home, desperate, having too much time to think, going back over bad memories and watching my family struggle without being able to do anything about it,“ he said recently. Noor decided to join the famed Kurdish Peshmerga forces as a volunteer.
“I know it is wrong to seek revenge, but we have a right to defend ourselves,“ said Noor, adding that “this gives me the opportunity to do something, at least; and it means one less mouth to feed for my family.“ He now receives training in a small village close to the Turkish border; he is slated to join backup units for fighters that eventually will march on Mosul, far off as that battle may be.
Noor speaks of his choice to take up arms “as the best of the bad options.“ Yet, he is not far off the mark, as Church leaders are increasingly vocal in their support of military action against ISIS. Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako just published a book (“Stronger than Terror: The Christians of the Middle East and the Violence of ISIS“), in which the leader of Noor’s Church argues that “in these circumstances, making war is legitimate.“ This “light“ of his people is willing to lay down his life to fight the good fight.
Noor’s story was recorded by a volunteer medical worker from Central Europe who is currently based in Dohuk, Iraq.