Thursday, June 28, 2012


I was driving around Duhok the other night when I saw something that caught my eye: a giant neon cross in the night's sky.  The following day, I was driving around with my friend Akram- a rolypoly Christian Kurd, so I asked him a few questions about the Christian Kurdish community.

Akram said that Jews and Christians  had a long history in Duhok.  Today, there aren't any Jews left (except for me, the Chief Rabbi of Kurdistan!), and the Christian community is about 5 percent of the city.  The Christian community of Duhok is dwindling these days, it has been leaving in waves for many years now, from the 1970s onward because of various periods of instability.  The departures took an uptick after the Second Gulf War, when ransom kidnappings of minorities in Iraq skyrocketed.  His sister had moved to Australia and he was considering doing the same.

Akram is part of the Chaldean Catholic Church, and  noted that the Christian community of Duhok worshiped in Chaldean and Assyrian.  That kinda blew my mind.  He said that there is tolerance in Kurdistan for Christians, and that the departure is more to do with the instabilities overall in Iraq than the situation on the ground in K-stan.

The thing that I find fascinating about the Christian community in the Middle East is that they are the keys to swill.  In America, we often think of devout Christians as being teetotalers but here in the Middle East, they are who you go to for hooch.

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