Iraq archbishop, who steered his faithful through the genocidal years of Daesh (ISIS) violence, has enthusiastically welcomed an essential lifeline – supported by a leading Catholic charity – for the region’s only Christian radio station.
The UK office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has backed Voice for Peace, which broadcasts across the Nineveh Plains, in northern Iraq and well beyond – attracting an audience of 10,000 listeners.
Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Boutros Mouche of Mosul said: “Voice of Peace… is the only radio station that publishes and preaches the name of Christianity in all of the towns of the Nineveh Plains.”
Voice for Peace, which has been running since 2006, was out of operation for four years after Daesh captured many of the towns and villages in Nineveh in summer 2014.
The Archbishop said: “The radio has gained a great importance, especially after the massive migration that our people experienced as a result of the occupation by Daesh, so the immigrant people have followed it and listened from all countries of the world via the internet.
“It is a strong link between us and them, and one of the remaining threads that binds us to them.”
Voice of Peace has links to other stations in the south and has good relations with Muslim radio providers.
Among the station’s many listeners are people now in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, where they fled following the Daesh invasion of Nineveh.
Archbishop Mouche said: “The Voice of Peace from Baghdeda [Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in the Nineveh Plains] is the voice of Christ – it is the voice of the Church.
“This is the identity of the Voice of Peace. This is where it belongs.
“It is a message of civilisation and the hope of the Gospel, a message of education, human culture and taste.”
ACN (UK) National Director Neville Kyrke-Smith said: “The preservation of the Christian community in the Middle East is a top priority for ACN.
“Despite being able to trace their roots back to apostolic times, the future of many of these ancient communities is now highly uncertain.
“Ventures such as Voice of Peace give hope to the suffering people that life can go back to normal following the genocide of Daesh.”