Muslim leader converts to Christianity in Iraq

April 12, 2013

Churches in Iraqi-Kurdistan claim new converts

The Kurdish news agency, Rudaw, reported on April 1, that a Muslim leader had converted to Christianity in Dohuk. Confirming this news, an official in the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs of Iraqi-Kurdistan said that the Fatwa Committee in their ministry do not execute those who convert from Islam to any religion. This report was reflected in the Iranian media as well.

The news website “Bultannews,” affiliated with the Iranian Intelligence services, reported that a daughter of another Muslim leader in Erbil, Iraqi-Kurdistan, also converted to Christianity with her husband. The news site wrote: “For some time now through the work of the missionaries in Iraqi-Kurdistan, a number of people are changing their religion in exchange for material gifts, and convert to Christianity”.

The report continued, “The government of Iraqi-Kurdistan is not reacting to the activities of missionary organizations, and as a result Christian converts have been able to hold four conferences in that area”.

Last year, the website “Jahan-News” reported that a child of an Iranian ambassador in a foreign country has converted to Christianity and is not willing to return to Iran.

As it turns out, the attraction of Muslim youth to Christianity is not limited to Iraqi-Kurdistan, nor Iran. Young people in all of Iraq and Syria are also showing interest in knowing and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

After Bagdad, Basra, and Mosul, Erbil is the fourth largest city in Iraq and is the capital of Iraqi-Kurdistan. Christianity is so much welcomed in the region that Christian ministries have been able to receive a permit from Kurdish officials to hold their annual conferences there. The attention of the Kurdish to Christians has developed to the extent that in his meeting with Massoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi-Kurdistan, Cardinal Emmanuel Delly III, Patriarch Emeritus of Babylon of the Chaldeans, called the region supportive of Christians and Christianity. Cardinal Emmanuel Delly also said, “I appreciate the sincere attention of Kurdish leaders toward Christians in Iraq”.

However, Muslim extremists have not closed their eyes on the friendly relationship of Kurdish officials toward Christians and the allowance of Christian conferences to be held in that region. They refer to Christian conferences as a proselytization project of Muslim people of the region.

Ali Bapir, leader of the Kurdistan Islamic Group in Iraq, said in an interview with the “Media” daily paper that “It is surprising how such a phenomenon has emerged while the regional government of Kurdistan is in power!” Criticizing the Christian conferences, he said “How are some people allowed to turn their back on their religion under our government? How are they permitted to hold their conferences officially in our region!?”

As of now, 88 churches exist in different areas in Iraqi-Kurdistan.

Because of its proximity to Iran, Erbil hosts Nowruz concerts featuring Los Angeles-based Iranian singers every year. A considerable number of Iranians take every risk to go to Erbil and attend the concerts of their choice. Just days before these concerts, Iranian border guards tightened security measures on Iranian youth heading to Iraqi-Kurdistan.

Christian residents of Erbil reported to Mohabat News that Persian-speaking Christian groups were active among Iranians who had gathered there for the concerts. Every year, Christian residents of Erbil form outreach groups and distribute gospels, “Jesus Film” DVDs  and Christian music among their fellow countrymen. The Iranians who go to Erbil for Nowruz concerts then take gospels back with them to their hometowns.

For most Kurdish families, Persian is their second language. Since 1975, many Kurdish families have sought refuge in Iran with their children being born and educated there. Therefore, even after returning to Iraqi-Kurdistan, they maintain their friendly relationship with their Iranian neighbors.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Iran, Iraq and Syria, the Christian missionaries and for the Nowruz concerts.

Courtesy Mohabat News