Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) law enforcement officials have arrested four individuals accused of threatening violence to extort money from residents of Erbil’s Ankawa district, which is known as Erbil’s Christian quarter. According to Kurdistan 24 News, the official charges faced by the men is “misusing mobile phones.”
The KRG has recently intensified its efforts to crackdown on illicit dealings and extortion across Kurdistan. Generally, the KRG is regarded as more stable and secure than the areas controlled by Iraq’s Central Government (ICG). It is for this reason that Christians fled to the KRG when ISIS swept across the Nineveh Plains in 2014.
Even so, Christians do face a number of challenges when living in areas controlled by the KRG. Peshmerga militias, affiliated with the KRG, did not protect Christians when ISIS advanced through the Nineveh Plains. Christians living in the KRG repeatedly report harassment from the broader Muslim community, especially during Islamic holidays such as Ramadan. The recent extortion attempts against Ankawa Christians also highlights another problem: while charges are brought against the defendants, they do not necessarily reflect the nature of the compliant.
International Christian Concern, persecution.org