Photo Source: Christiaan Briggs - Wikimedia Creative Commons
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
|People Name:||Arab, Iraqi|
|Primary Language:||Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken|
|Christian Adherents:||1.00 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|People Cluster:||Arab, Levant|
|Affinity Bloc:||Arab World|
Have you ever heard of the English phrase "jumping from the frying pan into the fire?" This saying has been the experience of Iraqi Arabs who have fled the chaos and turmoil of Iraq only to experience even more chaos and violence in Syria. Many thousands of Iraqi Arabs, both Sunni and Shia, left Iraq following the 2003 Iraqi war looking for stability and better economic opportunities in Syria. Since March 2011 a civil war has been occurring in Syria. The government under Assad has been fighting the rebels who oppose the Assad Baathist regime. The United Nations estimates that at least 500,000 people have died in the fighting. Another five million people have fled Syria because of the war and 6.7 million more internally displaced. Due to the civil war, it is impossible to estimate how many Iraqi Arabs now live in Syria.
From 2003 to 2007 the Syrian government welcomed Iraqi refugees. Since 2007 only Iraqi professionals and entrepreneurs are officially allowed into the country. Iraqi Arabs in Syria are "guests" and not legally permitted to take a job. This law has made most Iraqi Arabs find employment in the underground economy. Living conditions have been so difficult in Syria that many Iraqi Arabs are fleeing from Syria to Europe, Turkey and other places. The remaining Iraqi Arabs live in major cities in Syria. They often live in rundown apartment buildings and are subject to extortion and blackmail by Syrian landlords. It is a constant struggle for many Iraqis just to feed their families and get their children into school due their "guest" status. As long as the violence continues, the Iraqi Arabs in Syria will continue to experience daily disruptions of their lives.
Most of the Iraqi Arabs are Sunnis. However, there is a sizable population of Shia and Shia sects. All Muslims try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. They believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Muslims pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols.
The Iraqi Arabs in Syria need a stable society where they are allowed to work and care for their families. Many must have help in meeting their physical needs of shelter, food, clean water, and clothing. Their children need help in enrolling and staying in schools. Most of all, the Iraqi Arabs need the hope and forgiveness of sins that only God in Jesus Christ can provide.
Pray for a swift and just end to the Syrian Civil War. Pray that Christian organizations might be permitted to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of the Iraqi Arabs living in Syria. Pray that the Lord would raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Iraqi Arabs in this decade. Pray that the Christians and churches in Syria would reach out and share the good news about Jesus with the Iraqi Arabs.