The Archbishop of Mosul has insisted Christianity in Iraq "will not and will never die", as he spoke to Euronews about the difficulties the religious minority in the country are facing.
After the defeat of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul dozens of Iraqi Christian families — who fled their country amid the violence a few years ago — are returning.
But not to their destroyed homes in Mosul.
Najib Mikhael Moussa, who was appointed Archbishop of Mosul by Pope Francis last year, said there is an international responsibility to protect minorities in the region.
Moussa has spent years preserving Iraq's Christian heritage and escaped to Iraqi Kurdistan with many priceless manuscripts as ISIS militants swept the north of the country.
In Lyon, Najib Mikhael Moussa met with Euronews, where he expounded the importance of peace and understanding between different faiths and cultures.
“There is an international responsibility to save those minorities, and protect them from being persecuted," he said.
"You can worship a stone (whatever you believe in), but you mustn't kill me with it (do anybody worship as he pleases). How it comes to mind that a child who is seven years old, accuses his colleague of being an infidel? How does this child know about infidelity?”
He spoke about the reality of Mosul and the fate of Christians of Iraq — about how the majority who fled the violence are not returning.
“There is only 10% returning from abroad or intending to return, they say: 'We will return if there is security and opportunity for work, but the situation seems to fall short with their expectations'.”
“More than 30% migrate to Europe and Australia, but few of them are returning”.
“Most Christians in Iraq live in the Nineveh plain, in Baghdad and Kurdistan, there are only 30 Christian families who returned to Mosul”.