In a new video, a number of Christians living in Iraq expressed their admiration for U.S. President Donald Trump, and their hope that he will make good on promises to assist them and come down hard on the Islamic State.
Asked “What do you think of Donald Trump?” several members of the clergy as well as lay Christians answered that they sensed a positive change after the Obama years, and felt that they were finally being noticed.
Father Immanuel, a Syriac Catholic priest in Mosul, said simply: “I love Trump because he understands this Christian matter in Iraq.”
Archbishop Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Erbil, said that he was “really encouraged to see that someone at least is thinking of the Christians and giving, not a priority, but at least attracting attention.”
“For me,” the Archbishop said, “I would say this is probably the first time that an American politician like a president would say, ‘No, there are some people who are dying or are suffering because of their faith and we have to think seriously about that.’”
Though in different words, a common thread running through the responses was the belief that Trump actually cares about persecuted Christians in the Middle East and would do something about it.
Yohanna Toways, a Christian refugee from Qaraqosh, said that Christian and Yezidi minorities had actually prayed to God for Donald Trump to win the election.
“We have confidence in Trump,” Toways said. “Before he was elected, all the Christians and the Yezidi are praying [for him] to win, all of them, and now that he is the president we have the hope he will be the savior of these minorities by his strong decisions. I think he can help us.”
People also said that Trump offered hope to local Christians, after eight years of a president who did nothing for them.
“People here were more than disappointed with Obama, because he did nothing. So the view of Obama was terrible,” said John Neill, a volunteer aid worker for the Archdiocese of Erbil.
“I think people here are feeling excited about Trump, that he will do something,” Neill continued. “He stated in his election speech that he would do something about Daesh. That is an indication that he will go further and help the minorities in Iraq to get back their lives.”
“If Trump cannot give them hope, then what hope is there?” he added.
Similar sentiments were expressed Father Benedict Kiely, the founder of www.nasarean.org, a Christian aid group that has promoted awareness of Christian persecution in ISIS-dominated territory, especially through the spread of the Arabic ن symbol used to mark the homes of Christians.
“Many people said in our interviews with them that they had hope because he is a strong man,” he said. “God bless him. Let’s be strong and help these people. He promised during the election I remember specifically to be the president for the Christians.”
“So let’s put it into action,” he said.
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