Zoe Smith, Head of Advocacy at Open Doors, writes for us about their campaign to bring hope to the Middle East and how we can get involved.
Hope for the Middle East is a seven-year campaign to ensure every person in the Middle East – no matter what their faith – has a home, a future and a voice. Join over half a million people worldwide and sign the petition today.
It is unthinkable that the church could be driven from the Middle East – the birthplace of Christianity. Yet over the last few years, Christians and other minorities here have been ruthlessly targeted by extremist Islamist militants, most notoriously by the so-called Islamic State (IS). Devastating persecution has forced hundreds of thousands of Christians to flee their homes in search of safety.
But as towns are freed, many are now choosing to return home, no matter what. Many such as Noeh, a 12-year-old boy from Karamles, Iraq. In 2014, Noeh fled his home with his family as IS rapidly advanced across Iraq’s Nineveh Plain. They found shelter in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq where they could wait in hope for their return home. The great news is that, after over three years, Noeh is now back in Karalmes! Living in the home of his aunt, he will soon even be able to return to school – something that would have been impossible only a short time ago.
Noeh in his burned-out room in Karamles, Iraq
But the future of Christians in the Middle East is not yet secure. And time is running out. It is vital that the voices of Christians and other minorities are heard loud and clear in the rebuilding process of Iraq and Syria. To this end, Christians in Iraq and Syria have asked for three specific measures that, if put in place, would allow all religious and ethnic minorities to live with a greater level of freedom and peace:
- The right to equal citizenship
- Dignified living conditions
- A prominent role in rebuilding and reconciling society.
These important asks have been the basis for the global Hope for the Middle East petition, launched by Open Doors in partnership with Middle East Concern and others. In December this year, the Hope for the Middle East petition will be presented to world leaders by Noeh himself (visas permitting!).
So far an incredible 550,000 people from 142 countries have signed this petition, including 150,000 from the Middle East! There’s still time to sign. If you want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with people from Iraq, Brazil, Hong Kong and beyond to speak out in hope for the Middle East, sign and share the petition today.
You can also download the petition to share with friends, family and colleagues to get even more people speaking up for Noeh and others like him.
- All views expressed are the author's own -