Christians in Iraq
By Dr William Boctor
It may be useful to record my experience in the Syrian Orthodox Church in Baghdad, Iraq, in the period 1974-1977. The priest in the picture is KHOURY Soliman Daoud who was a school Head Master before he became a priest. He showed great love to the Copts and was eager to let them even know each other.
In late 1975, I sent a letter to H.H. Pope Shenouda acknowledging the dedication and service KHOURY Soliman is giving to the Coptic expatriates in Baghdad. H.H. Pope Shenouda responded with a tape in which he thanked K. Soliman and sent to us a Papal message which, I guess, was not common then. I wish to report some points:
- Out of respect to H.H. Pope Shenouda, K. Soliman asked us to stand up while listening to the Papal message
- K. Soliman was so happy to receive thanks from H.H. While commenting on His Holiness’ message, he couldn’t stop his tears and said “I don’t deserve that my name to be pronounced on the apostolic mouth”.
- Later he made a special liturgy service to us and asked a Coptic Deacon aged in his 20’s to teach him the Coptic liturgy.
- One day K. Soliman told me that we are invited for Dinner at his house. I said “Thanks, but how many?” He answered all of the church!! I was amazed and asked how he will move them to his house. As most of them had no cars. The waiting list of a local new car was over 3 years, while imported cars were allowed for expatriates, those coming from Egypt didn’t have enough cash to import.
- He responded that his family will be waiting to move people from the church to his large house.
- Overall, Christians in Iraq were well educated and had large families. K Soliman has 11 sons and daughters.
I have to mention that I needed to import a new car, as Baghdad is as big as Sydney. A family from Mosul gave me the cash that I needed.
I worked in industry and in Academic research. I found out that both were far more advanced than the Egyptian equivalents. It was clear that Egypt suffered a lot and lost its leadership because of the mostly lost wars with Israel and Yemen.
It is sad to think about them now and wonder how they are suffering.