RFI’s Middle East Director Discusses the Road Ahead for Iraqi Christians

August 26, 2023

RFI’s Middle East Director Jeremy Barker was recently interviewed by Danube Institute (Budapest) research fellow Sáron Sugár on how “Iraqi Christians Only Have a Future if the Country Will Be a Safe Place for its Diverse Minorities.” In a wide-ranging discussion, Barker pointed to persistent discrimination, restrictions, social hostilities, and other forms of marginalization and abuse that Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq continue to endure. He also outlined a major problem with many traditional aid programs intended to help Christians, Yazidis, and other minority communities there. That is, only a small fraction of the money ever gets to these groups while the rest seems to disappear. There are, however, aid models that have worked. Barker noted the “direct approach” of Hungary Helps as a case in point.

Despite the steep challenges, Barker emphasizes:

the historical resilience of [Iraq’s] Christian communities facing persecution, which may be reason for optimism. He added that during his fieldwork in Iraq, he spoke with many Christians who invest in the community, have a vision for a thriving future and work to preserve their religion’s psychical heritage. In his view, there definitely is hope, but it requires a lot of work to secure a future in which in Iraq and Kurdistan there is space for all communities, including Christians.

Read the full interview: “Iraqi Christians Only Have a Future if the Country Will Be a Safe Place for its Diverse Minorities — A Discussion with Jeremy P. Barker.”

Barker was also featured on the Danube Institute’s podcast titled, “Reflections from Budapest” (links to parts 1 and 2 below).

Part 1
Part 2