Iraq (MNN) — Tunisia. Libya. Egypt. Bahrain. Jordan. Most of the Arab world seems to be in an uproar. Now Iraq has thrown its hat into the ring.
"It seems that this same spirit of protest — ‘Hey, our lives are not how we want them to be. The government is holding us back. Let's do something about it!' — is now spreading to Iraq as well," says Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs.
On Friday, Iraqi protestors from every corner of the country flooded the streets to demand their leaders provide more opportunities, better jobs, and better infrastructure. Small level protests had occurred before Friday, but the "Day of Rage" resulted in lives lost and large scale protests all over–even in Iraq's more peaceful north.
The question is: why has unrest spread to Iraq? Many other uproarious countries were dictatorships before the people revolted, but Iraq, after all, is a democracy with elected officials. Nettleton says the answer lies in a lack of results.
"We [in the West] think of Iraq right now as liberated Iraq: Saddam's gone, this is liberated Iraq. But to the people on the ground who see corruption in their government, they see infrastructure that is still not working properly, electricity that's only on for a couple hours a day. And they say, ‘We want more than this. We want a better life than this.'… They also would identify the corruption of ‘Hey, these government leaders are making millions of dollars on different deals, and yet my electricity still doesn't work.'"
Because Iraq is a democracy, however, responding well to the demands of the people could be tricky. "If you kick out these leaders, then who's next in line? Because they did have elections, these are the people that a majority of the citizens voted for and chose to be in power," Nettleton points out.
At this point, what this will mean for the country is unknown.
What this will mean for believers, though, could be progress. "I think obviously it means danger, because any time there's upheaval, anytime there's this type of situation, there's danger there. But the other thing that I think it means is opportunity," says Nettleton.
Nearly 100 percent of Iraq's leaders are devout Muslims. Since the majority of Iraqis are upset with their leaders, this could mean that people turn a cold shoulder to Islam as a whole.
"If you see these leaders as good Muslims, it makes you open to other ideas or another religion," explains Nettleton. "So this is an opportunity to share the Gospel. There's an opportunity to present an alternative to Islam, which is the love of Jesus Christ."
Pray that whatever happens, believers in Iraq would take every opportunity they have to share the love and peace of Christ with troubled neighbors. Pray for peace in the country and growth in the church.