Abdulmaseeh’s life changed forever on 6 August 2014, when Islamic State (IS) invaded his city; Qaraqosh, Iraq. The entire Syriac Christian population, over 120,000 people, fled to nearby Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Abdulmaseeh, and 22 extended family members, were shocked at the conditions they encountered, after the terrible journey.
...When [we] entered the church, out in the front yard [were] masses of bodies — living bodies. There was no place to put your foot. Inside… [there were] women and children, lying. In our traditions, it’s not custom to see a woman lying in public.
The loss of a way of life and the ancient culture of Iraq saddens him. As does recalling Christians and Muslims serving together amicably during his compulsory national service with the Iraqi armed forces.
… we live for our children. We like peace. We like working. We love our families, our jobs. We’re very sincere to our country and love it till now, regardless what we suffer… but never, never, never we could think that something like that will happen to Iraq, and that was the main [reason] that [we] fled. We couldn’t stay in these circumstances - it’s not for human beings.
Abdulmaseeh and his children were granted asylum in Australia. He is struck by how different some things are, such as the high cost of housing, and how difficult it is to get a job. A civil engineer, who lectured at universities in Baghdad and Mosul, he is now told he is overqualified.
I try not to let this experience impact negatively upon me, or my children. I try to go ahead with life…[and] help them grow here in peace…For a man, who all he wants from life is to work and grow and be happy and make others happy, peace is very, very important.
Reviewed 10 March 2021