# ن : How an Arabic letter was reclaimed to support Iraq’s persecuted Christians

# ن : How an Arabic letter was reclaimed to support Iraq’s persecuted Christians


#ن: How an Arabic letter was reclaimed to support Iraq’s persecuted Christians

By Thomas Seymat Via Euronews-

Over the weekend, while the world’s gaze was on Gaza and Syria, the situation of Christians in northern Iraq took a sharp turn for the worse, with thousands forced to flee their homes. The situation is so dire that a social media campaign has been launched to try to reclaim the very symbol of persecution against these Christians and to try and raise awareness about their fate.

With a weekend ultimatum to either convert to Islam, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy, or face death by the sword, hardline Sunni militants of the Islamic State [IS] have been consolidating their control, driving Christians out of the city of Mosul. Of those who fled, some were robbed at gunpoint by Islamists on the road leaving the city.

Christians in Mosul once formed a community numbered in the tens of thousands set up in the region since the earliest of Christianity.

The local clergy was attacked as well. On Monday, militants took over the fourth century Saint Behnam monastery 30 km southeast of Mosul, forcing a monk and his assistant to leave, according to reports.

In Mosul, IS militants marked with a spray-painted ن (the Arabic letter for “N”) all Christian property to be seized after the ultimatum. “N”, or ن​, is the first letter of the Arabic word for Christian, “Nasrani” or Nazarene.

The local UN mission told Reuters 400 uprooted families arrived on Sunday morning in two cities in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish enclave. Another 700 families were expected in Arbil, barely 50 miles (80 km) from Mosul. People of other faiths are leaving as well. A UNHCR spokesperson told euronews by email that, because ISIS’s actions are only a few weeks old, “there are probably many Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries [fleeing IS activities] that are yet to approach UNHCR for registration or if they have they might still be waiting for an appointment(…) so it might be too early at this stage to have an accurate picture.”

Condemnations but no international response

Louis Raphael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch and head of Iraq’s largest church, said on Sunday that the Islamic State militants were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad in 1258.

One of Zako’s deputies, Bishop Shlemon Wardooni, called for an international response. “The world must act, speak out, consider human rights,” he said, adding that the Iraqi state was weak and divided and Muslim leaders had remained silent.

“We haven’t heard from clerics from all sects or from the government,” he told Reuters on Sunday. “The Christians are sacrificed for Iraq.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned the treatment of Mosul’s Christians, saying it showed “the extreme criminality and terrorist nature of [IS]” and UN Secretary General Ban said IS’ actions were akin to “a crime against humanity.” Pope Francis, in his weekly public prayers on Sunday, said: “I learned with great concern the news that came from the Christian communities in Mosul (…) Today they are persecuted. Our brothers are persecuted. They’ve been driven away. They must leave their homes without being able to take anything with them.”

A symbol of persecution becomes a cry for help

However, despite these strong-worded statements, the international community has so far been immobile .

Online, frustration over the world’s inaction have led to a social media campaign to raise awareness about the fate of Mosul’s Christians. Users, for the most part Christians and Catholics, are changing their profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter to a pictures of the letter ن​, the very letter infamously branding their Iraqi co-religionists, and turning it into a symbol of support.

The first reported instance of the reclaimed use of the letter actually took place during a church service in east Baghdad on Sunday, led by Zako. According to reports, about 200 Muslims had joined in solidarity, many holding leaflets stating “I am Iraqi, I am Christian.” Other marked themselves with the letter ن​​.

If the IS launches an offensive and takes control of the Iraqi capital, such a show of solidarity would then ​probably be impossible. Offensive or not, the troubles of Iraq’s Christians are far from over.




  1. I’m going to start using this arabic letter on facebook.

  2. Jim Howell says:

    We need to have someone make good quality tee shirts and bumpers stickers with this arabic letter on them to show we stand with our brothers and sisters in the middle east.

  3. Char in ND says:

    The US should support peshmerga forces, they have been fighting jihadists and protecting Christians and other religious minorities for decades. ن

    • ن May God be with them!

      • Char in ND says:

        Where is the support for these people? They are our allies. Today ISIS has some 40,000 trapped on a mountain. How long will it take for Obama to decide if/when the USA will provide support. Where are the Congressional leaders demanding that he does so?

        I have a nephew that fought in Iraq. I know from his accounts that the Kurds provided support and fought alongside our American troops. They are freedom fighters. They didn’t fight alongside our troops for any other reason than they want freedom. I don’t care if you did or did not support the war in Iraq. I don’t care what religious affiliation you have nor political persuasion you may hold, those are the facts. They didn’t ask and they didn’t care, either – yet they fight on, for someone must. They are protecting religious minorities and themselves, they are all too familiar with genocide as was done to them by Saddam Hussein when he gassed their villages at his leisure.

        These fighters – the brave Kurds – are fighting against the same enemy that the Israelis fight daily. We should thank them, we should support them. We are all on the same team, and the jihadis who want to establish a worldwide caliphate are our enemy.

        Please contact your Congressmen & Congresswomen and demand we stand up for our allies around the world.

      • Right On! Preach sister! I love your passion and completely agree with you. It’s very frustrating to watch what’s going on. Thanks for bringing this up. Maybe American citizens can put enough pressure on our representatives to make a difference. I don’t have much faith in the people in Washington but we have to at least try to make a difference.

  4. Char in ND says:

    Two bombs dropped on the barbarians isn’t going to cut it. A few thousand packages of food & water supplies isn’t going to cut it. The terrorists are killing children – cutting off their heads, crucifying them. Raping and enslaving women. Murdering men.

    Obama is on vacation, how nice. I don’t know how these people can sleep at night. He should have peppered those monsters while they marched into Iraq with as many bombs as we had available – courtsey of the USAF. Isn’t this what allies do? Now they have taken 40% of the country. The Kurds beg for help – ammo, arms, anything to fight it. And I do mean it. These jihadists are not human, for who could do such things.


      • Char in ND says:

        I love it when you shout 🙂
        Obama isn’t doing squat to help anyone. Not only is Putin flying bombers in our airspace, but ISIS is knocking on our door.

        “Supporters of the ISIS terror group tweeted thousands of messages on Friday bearing the hashtag #AmessagefromISIStoUS featuring gruesome photos and threats to U.S. soldiers and citizens after American airstrikes took out terrorist targets in Iraq for the first time.
        Some tweeted photos depict dead U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. marines hung from bridges in Fallujah, decapitated men, human heads on spikes, and the twin towers in flames on September 11, 2001.
        ‘This is a message for every American citizen,’ read one message sent with the hashtag. ‘You are the target of every Muslim in the world wherever you are.’
        (from David Martokwsko, UK Daily)

        Where is the outrage. I didn’t see anything on the CAIR website. Meanwhile, there are still some 40,000 people stuck on a mountain. Sweet dreams, Mr. President.

      • Thanks for posting this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s