Iraqi Christian Woman Defies ISIS


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August 2, 2014
Al-Qosh, Iraq

Basima al-Safar, an Iraqi Christian woman, is decorating her house with Christian iconography in the al-Qosh suburb of Nineveh valley. When ISIS took control over the neighboring towns, Basima’s nephew forced her to leave her home in al-Qosh along with all the women from the town. She insisted on returning home and did so after just six days, despite the of ISIS’ threats towards Christians and other minorities in Iraq. She says that, if they return, she is wiling to take up arms and defend the Peshmerga controlled town. Basima has been working on turning her house into a Christian-themed museum as a statement illustrating the Christian heritage of Iraq. She says that, before the rise of ISIS, people from all types of religious backgrounds used to visit her house and look at the artwork. Basima’s mother was a dance choreographer and founded the first traditional dance group in al-Qosh.


Basima, Iraqi Christian (woman, Arabic)

SOUNDBITE 1: (01:39-02:03) “Is it possible that a person is forced to leave their country? That should not happen, God does not accept that. They come and kick us out of our home and country, they are strangers who come and kick us out, and the people who got harmed the most by this are the Christians and the Yazidis”.

SOUNDBITE 2: (02:13-03:03) “Immigration is not appealing to me, I do not like the idea. My nephew forced me into the car, he actually forced me to go. What I like is to stay home, I had a weapon, I actually had a Kalashnikov, and I have used it once. I wanted to carry a weapon and fight, but my nephew forbade me to do so. A person should learn how to use a weapon, especially women. Those Yazidi women, if they had weapons, nobody would have dared to attack them. But they did not have any weapons”.

SOUNDBITE 3: (03:04-03:26) “They say we immigrated and left. They should not say that, we did not flee. It is a shame for us to have something like that said. I do not have fear, I only fear God. I do not fear those who came to ruin our country”.

SOUNDBITE 4: (03:27-03:53) “We will change all of the posters, we will renew them all, the colors are pale, because of the sun and the rain, we will renew it all”.

SOUNDBITE (04:08-04:37) “The pictures, this picture is of my mother and father, this is my mother she is from Dhouk. She formed a Folk band in al-Qosh. This photo is very old. This is the first music band and Saddam Hussein is in the picture with us, over 35 years ago. All of those children are old and married now, and they have grandchildren”.