An Iraqi TV host has sobbed on live television over the treatment of Christians by ISIS, saying “they are our own flesh and blood”.
Nahi Mahdi, who presents Asia TV, revealed he had cried at home about what was happening in his country, before welling up and having to wipe away his tears with his keffiyeh (headscarf).
He then related a story about meeting Christians at the Al-Marbad market, near the city of Al-Zubeir in Basra, southern Iraq.
“There is an area there which is predominantly Christian,” he said. “I swear, they never made us feel … They are our own flesh and blood.
“Some of them have left for Sweden or Germany. Who does [ISIS] think it is to drive out our fellow countrymen?”
The video translated and posted online by the Middle East Media Research Institute shows Mahdi announcing that he wants to “take to task” the government and the people of Mosul, where extremists continue to wage war over the Mosul Dam, and civilians are caught up in the violence.
“They must take immediate measures to help these people,” he said. “Our country is like a rose, and its petals are the Christians, the Arabs, the Kurds, the Sabians, the Shabak people … These are our countrymen. I don’t know what to say about this.”
Iraqi poet Abu Al-Hassanien Al-Rub’i, who was sat beside him on the show, voiced his support for the sentiment. “The Christians have done nothing wrong,” he said. “They haven’t hurt a soul. On the contrary, they are peaceful people, who love all sects.
“They are honourable people, with high moral values,” he added as Mahdi dabbed his eyes. “They always maintain their sense of justice. We stand a hundred per cent in solidarity with them.”
His words have resonated around the globe, with Christian publications posting the video on their websites and social media users praising Mahdi’s visible emotion and empathy.
Reddit user Bleunt commented: “Not only is he a more sensitive, emotional and compassionate man than I am for crying over the treatment of Christians in Iraq, he is also a tougher, braver and ballsier man than I am for attacking ISIS in public.”
Another user, Possumz, added: “It’s disheartening when we only see the extremists on the media, because people develop one single image of a whole group of people based on that one extreme position.”
Others, however, claimed MEMRI had a history of manipulating footage to push a certain line, with the organisation having links to the Israeli and US governments.
A user named Svinch suggested that their videos might be selected to help promote US foreign policy.