Samuel, with Redemptive Stories, says “Part of it is we have seen change occur in relationship to the prime minister in Iraq . . .I think that the church is seeing good things occur, and they want to just still be able to be effective at those good things.”
Christians in Iraq couldn’t do many things while the government was unstable, but now things are shifting, they want to get back to the work of building Christ’s kingdom.
“For instance,” Samuel says, “we’ve had the various projects that we’ve been trying to do with some church partners there, but they always hit this roadblock of ‘Okay, well, we can’t do anything until the government gets settled.’ So there’s kind of this desire to bring some semblance of order back to society.”
But not everyone is satisfied
The protesters, Samuel says, are mostly 18-25-year-old men, often college students or graduates, who are frustrated with the lack of opportunity in their country.
“It’s kind of like Occupy Baghdad,” Samuel says. “They just sit there and they continue to sit there because they don’t believe in the parliamentary system that is governing their country currently.”
After months of negotiating, Iraq finally has elected a new prime minister, but the protestors see him as part of the problem-creating establishment. “And so, the protesters of Occupy Baghdad feel like this is just going to continue to propagate the same system that was there before and that they will continue to have strong ties to Iran. They will continue to not be able to provide jobs, not look to the West in order to bring in companies.”
An uphill battle
The protestors themselves report high morale, but Samuel says the outlook for the protest is bleak. “And unfortunately, it’s not a culture of the masses. I mean, the masses can come together, but without one unified voice with someone in power to speak into the situation and to represent them, I think don’t have any real strong hope of effecting change.”
The protestors want the parliamentary government to dissolve and form a republic where the people can vote for a prime minister. Samuel says this will never happen; the people in power won’t let it.
He also compares the protests unfavorably to the Arab Spring uprisings of the early 2010s. “I don’t like to compare what happened then back then. [It] felt like there was more ground swell with the potential for change . . . I don’t think that there’s enough groundswell of the general population that is angry [enough] to make real significant change happen, particularly in Iraq.”
Samuel asks believers to pray for unity in Iraq. “You have so many factions and so many groups that are fighting for their little piece of the pie. Christians, Muslims, Kurds, Arabs, Armenians and all kinds of different people. All Put together in one country.”
Also, pray that the Church in Iraq would be able to spread the Gospel unhindered, and that many would come to know the Lord.
A church in Baghdad. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons)