When I started out as a photographer I started as a travel photographer selling images though stock libraries. The area I specialised in was images of the Middle East and the Arab World. About five or six years ago the world of stock photography changed, not long after that it also became more difficult to travel in the Middle East and I had to change the direction of my career. But I have never lost my interest in the Middle East and the Arab World.
There are worrying things happening in the Middle East at the moment. You have probably heard of ISIS which is an acronym for Islamic State of Iraq & al Sham (al Sham is part of northern Syria and the conflict that is happening in Iraq and in Syria. What you may not have heard is what is happening in Mosul at the moment. ISIS have started a campaign of persecution against the Christians who are living there.
Christians are being given a stark choice, convert to Islam, pay a huge tax, or be killed. The homes and properties of the Christians are being marked with the Arabic letter ن or ‘n’ (it looks like a U with a dot above it) which stands for Nazarene (after the region of Nazareth that Jesus came from). At the time of writing this it looks like most if not all of the Christians have now left Mosul. Many have had their possessions stolen from them, others are talking about brutal persecution.
To help raise awareness of this persecution, and to stand with the Christians of Mosul the #WeAreN campaign is asking people to change their social media avatars to incorporate the the letter ن. I would ask those of you reading this to consider doing the same.
Although I am a Christian and want to show my support for persecuted Christians, it doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian, have a different faith or no faith at all. This is humanitarian issue. I am also sure that many of my Muslim friends will be equally appalled at the way these Christians are being treated. 70+ years ago it was Jews being driven out their homes and their properties being marked with a symbol.
If we remain silent to this happening in Mosul, it will spread.
Changing an avatar by itself isn’t going to change or stop this, but raising awareness might. The more our leaders see we are concerned about what is happening, the more likely they are to exert political pressure. It is also a very small way of showing to those who are persecuted that people round the world do care about what is happening to them.
If you are a Christian, please pray for those who are persecuted, and change your avatar in support of them. If you are not a Christian then I would still ask you to change your avatar to show support for those who are being persecuted. If it helps think of #WeAreN as your very own #IAmSpartacus moment!
The letter ن may be difficult for you to add on to your avatar so I am uploading a number of themed avatars that incorporate it, please feel free to use on of these. All of these avatars use my own photography so there is no problems with you using them. Also providing I don’t get swamped with requests if you want me to add the ن and #WeAreN to your own avatar I am happy to do that too.
For more information about what is happening in Mosul here’s links to three news stories: