The History of the Christians and their Participation in Sulaimani

The Christian religion is mentioned as a second religion in the Iraqi constitution. The Christians geographically divide into different places in Iraq

Shaho Othman Saeed Qadir

Before constructing Sulaimani at (Malkandi village) some Christian families were lived there, this is one of the signs that the Christians have been living in this area from long since, so, it means the Christian religion exist before the Islam religion comes in this province.

The Christian religion is mentioned as a second religion in the Iraqi constitution. The Christians geographically divide into different places in Iraq; their communities consist of Kildans, Assyrians, Jacobeans, Armenians, Protestants, Orthodoxies and Catholics. These minorities have been living in Kurdistan from the early times and they spread in all four separated parts of Kurdistan, concerning Sulaimani the Christians were living in the (Gawran) neighborhood from its establishment which located in the eastern of the earlier Sulaimani in the former times people call the Christians (Gawr), at this time this block located at the city center. This quarter has its specialty because from founding Sulaimani only the Christians lived there and many Christian families from Koya, Erbil and Kirkuk had come to Sulaimani and settled in this block. Later the Muslims were stabilized with the Christians in this neighborhood over time and they lived together without differentiation, even the first church had built in this quarter still remained presently.

From the building of Sulaimani, the Christians could live freely and did their religious ceremonies proudly. Together with all components of this city was the sample of peace and coexistence, serving the city and its nation. To improve that, 36 years after the forming of this city Mr. Rich has visited Sulaimani and stated that nine Kildan families in Sulaimani have had a small church. Mr. Rich was the English ambassador in the era of Mahmoud Pasha who visited Sulaimani in 1820. Besides, Mejarson says, there were 800 houses of the Christians, Jewish and Turkmen in this city from 1825.

Also, in the book of Mohamed Zaki titled (The History of Sulaimani) Lick Lama estimated the population of Sulaimani was 6045 families and 30000 people in 1868. 6000 families belonged to the Muslims, 30 families were Kildans and 15 related to Jewish families. Furthermore, the ottoman calendar assessed the Sulaimani population was 8703 Muslims and 260 referred to other religions. Besides, many authors concentrated on the diversity and coexistence among the citizens in that city without variation among the cutlers.

According to the 1957 statistics the number of the Christian families decreased in Sulaimani because they left Sulaimani and settled in Baghdad, however, after 2003 the number of Christian families increased in Sulaimani, 400 families left the middle and south of Iraq stabilized in this city and other cities of Kurdistan due to the chaotic and non-stability situation of Iraq while some of them migrated to the diaspora.

As we mentioned before at the very beginning there was a small church in Sulaimani people were doing their religious ceremonies there, for that reason, the church of (Mariam Al Azra) has built at (Sabunkaran quarter) via saint Slewa Yusuf Shaqlawai). Most of the Christians in Sulaimani follow the Catholic doctrine while few of them follow the Orthodox doctrine. Hence, Christians build their church in 1862 for the first time. In 1923 during the airstrikes of Sulaimani, some of them were destroyed by the English planes but (Karimi Alaka) who was a well-known person In Sulaimani have reconstructed all the churches.

Church means collecting the individuals of its community; its responsibility is educating and teaching. The charitable persons in this community donate the funds to provide the needs, the priority was learning and teaching the Christian children and youths by holding conferences and teaching from courses.

Generally, the courses have been taught through the priests, the children learn the Christian faith and believe instead of learning art, sport and handcraft.

In 1991 during the Kurdish uprising against Saddam, the Christians struggled alongside the Peshmarga forces to liberate the Kurdistan cities, for instance, a Sulaimani Christian young became martyred in defending Kurdistan in Kirkuk who announced the son of (Aso Christian), it means being Kurds and coexistence was above all in Sulaimani. Finally, I hope we all together dedicate more to serve Sulaimani.

Viewer 154