Qaraqosh Christians start new life by burning bad memories

Christian families who have returned to Qaraqosh, Iraq, are now starting their new life after the Islamic State was driven out of the Nineveh Plain by burning their things to cleanse out bad memories.

(REUTERS / Alaa Al-Marjani)A priest puts cross on the street of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq. November 3, 2016.

While ISIS militants previously burned down crosses and churches in the Christian town of Qaraqosh, it is now the believers' turn to burn their own items. Three years after they fled their hometown, they have now returned and have started their new life by setting fire to some of their personal items as a peaceful way of getting rid of the bad memories that the terrorists left behind, the AFP reports.

"As you can see, we are burning our own clothes, our own furniture. We are burning our history," Qaraqosh resident Milad Khodhr explained. "But we see no feeling of vengeance in these fires, we are peaceful ... we are the real people of this country."

Some of the Iraqi Christians who are slowly making their way back to Qaraqosh are drenched in anxiety over what kind of life is waiting for them there. However, they are also hoping that they can live peacefully with the Muslims who are residing in the city, Reuters details.

Girgis Youssif, a church worker from Qaraqosh who fled to Erbil, shared that they are afraid of religious tension. He added that they want to leave a peaceful and secure life in their hometown.

Father George Jahula, one of the religious leaders helping the families returning to Qaraqosh, said more than half of the town's residents are still in Iraq but some have already settled in other countries. He also shared that based on their survey, 68 percent of these people want to return to their hometown and the rest of them are still undecided.

According to Father Jahula, the return of the people to Qaraqosh will depend on the reconstruction of the infrastructures in the Christian town. Volunteers have already determined the extent of destruction in the city and have set aside a budget and target date of completion for each sector.