At the recent Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) conference in Westminster on the persecution of Christians across the world, there was an inevitable focus on Iraq and Syria where ISIS has forced the Christian populations to flee for their homes, because of what they believe.
At the conference Fr. Douglas Bazi was asked: ‘What has caused ISIS?’ His answer was quite shocking: ‘We are all to blame for ISIS.’
His message gives impetus to our work at the Ankawa Foundation, and why what we are doing is so vital to building a better future for Christians in Iraq. Fr. Douglas’s statement was based on something quite simple: during the years of the UN Embargo of Iraq, people focused on getting food, shelter and medication. As a result, education suffered, and without education ignorance was allowed to flourish. In this ignorance, messages of hate and the alluring false promises of a better life through jihad were allowed to spread.
Fr. Douglas was quite clear: ‘If we want to end the cycle of violence, vengeance and retribution, of chaos and war in the Middle East, we need to educate people to live together, to respect each other, and to not fear someone just because of what they believe.’
This message of education is at the heart of our work at the Ankawa Foundation – to ensure that education remains accessible to those who have been forced from their homes. By supporting education, we can all hope to create a better future for humanity, but also for countries where war and persecution have for too long been the result of ignorance and fear.