Journalist Covering ISIS Shares 'Heartwarming' Story Of Muslims Saving Christians

"In the midst of all the brutality and all the heartache, there is often someone doing some act of goodness."

Uplifting stories are few and far between in regions controlled (or recently vacated) by ISIS. That's exactly why Rukmini Callimachi tries to share those feel-good stories when she finds them.

The New York Times foreign correspondent, who has been covering the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, uses Twitter to give readers a look at the day-to-day life of the war abroad. On Monday, she captured our attention with anecdotes about the heroism displayed by everyday Iraqis over the course of ISIS' occupation of Mosul.

"Much of the news out of Mosul is soul-crushing," Callimachi tweeted. "Today I listened to the heartwarming stories of Muslims who saved their Christian neighbors."


Callimachi described one woman who was forced to convert publicly but who kept praying as a Christian privately. When ISIS came to check on her, her Muslim neighbors covered for her and said she had been praying with them. 

Then there was Lieutenant Colonel Hussam Jalil Al-Kahwatchy, an Iran-Iraq war veteran who was also in danger of being harmed by ISIS when they found out he was Christian. But a Muslim neighbor snuck him out of the city and past the last ISIS checkpoint at 4 a.m. when the neighbor heard ISIS was coming to kill him. 

By protecting their neighbors, Callimachi emphasized, Mosul residents put their own lives at risk. But nevertheless, they did.

"As journalists in war zones we are usually reporting on all the ways in which human beings harm each other," Callimachi told A Plus over Twitter. "It can sometimes feel like there isn't an ounce of good left in the world. And so I am drawn to stories of people's perseverance and especially of their kindness and courage."

Last week, The New York Times reported that the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul, Iraq to declare victory over ISIS. The announcement brought a more official end to a 9-month battle for Iraq's second largest city. While the news was welcomed by much of the world, the city of Mosul was left in ruins. Thousands died during ISIS' occupation of Mosul and more than a million were displaced from their homes.

West Mosul General Hospital, as photographed by an aid worker for the U.N. Development Programme.

While Callimachi knows smaller, more human stories like Muslims saving Christians aren't front page news, she said she likes to "enshrine" them in Twitter threads. With so much competing coverage, most of the prominent news about the war against ISIS comes when there is a major development, like the taking back of Mosul.

"I know it's far from A1, but it makes me feel like I am able to play my small part in balancing the narrative and making people understand that even in the midst of all the brutality and all the heartache, there is often someone doing some act of goodness," she said. 

Cover photo: Eng. Bilal Izaddin / Shutterstock

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