04/26/2020 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – UNESCO announced on Friday that with the partnership of the United Arab Emirates, the stabilization and rehabilitation of al-Saa’a Church in Mosul will now begin. The church, also known as The Conventual Church of Our Lady of the Hour, is a historic landmark in Mosul that was damaged by the Islamic State during its genocide against Christians. The church, along with the al-Tahera Syriac Catholic Church and al-Nouri Mosque complex, were slated for restoration by the UNESCO – UAE partnership this past October.
The church had not suffered as heavy destruction under ISIS occupation as many feared, but the damage done was reflective of the hatred with which ISIS had targeted anyone who questioned their strict and violent interpretation of Islam. Al-Saa’a Church was a statement of Christianity long historical presence in Mosul, a presence which ISIS made clear that they wanted to eliminate. Thousands of Christians fled the city when ISIS began occupying it in 2014.
ISIS’ intent to eliminate this history made many Muslims, already horrified at the militants’ violence, curious about Christianity. For some like Ahmed, the destruction of al-Saa’a church led to opportunities for this kind of exploration. In destroying churches like al-Saa’a, ISIS could not destroy the message of the church: that the Gospel message lives on in Mosul.