Iraqi Christians Confront Painful Memories in Town’s Clean-Up

QARAQOSH, Iraq (Reuters) – For decades, the Immaculate Conception Church in Qaraqosh was the heart of Iraq’s largest Christian town. After two years under Islamic State rule, it lies scarred and desecrated.

In the church’s inner courtyard, Islamic State fighters set up a shooting range for target practice, leaving behind bullet-riddled female mannequins and hardboard figures when they were driven out.

The yard’s arches and walls are cratered. At one end, empty shell casings carpet its flagstones near piles of trash and sheets of hymn music; a wooden pulpit for sermons sits pockmarked and cracked by bullets at the other, now with a small pink “Hallelujah” flag posted on top.

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