About Community

The Armenian Community of Iraq

Reference to the historian Movses Khorenatsi, Armenians were living in Iraq since ancient times. In the seventeenth century and by the time when Persians occupied Armenia, Shah Abbas moved 12.000 Armenians from Armenia to New Julfa (Ispahan). After the death of Shah Abbas Armenians in Iran were subjected to harassments, so they started to immigrate and spread in large numbers to Iraq and India. Some of them didn’t continue their way to India but settled in Basrah. Later on, Armenians immigrated to Iraq from the regions of Tigranakert, Urfa, Adana and Izmir. At the early ages Armenians were not organized and unified in Iraq, the Basrah community followed Archdiocese of Isfahan and the Baghdad community followed the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

As a result of the Armenian Genocide in 1915, tens of thousands of Armenians escaped from Turkey to Iraq. At the earliest of the nineteenth century the population of the Armenians who lived in Iraq reached 90.000. Later some returned back to Armenia while some immigrated to other countries. The population of the Iraqi Armenians before 2003 estimated to be 25.000 with majority living in the capital Baghdad and the rest living in other Iraqi cities like Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk, etc. Iraqi Armenians mainly engaged in trade and crafts, many Armenians work as doctors, engineers and government officials.

Armenian Diocese in Iraq follows the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and has 9 churches, 4 of them are situated in Baghdad. The Diocese is located beside St. Krikor Armenian Orthodox church, which is the largest Armenian Church in Iraq. The Armenian diocese published its own quarterly magazine (Gantegh). There is also the annual book of the Armenian Elementary Private School.

The Central National Council of the Armenian community takes care of the religious and national affairs of the community and it has sub-committees in Mosul, Basra, Kirkuk and other cities of Iraq.

Archbishop Dr. Avak Asadourian is the Primate Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox church and in 2010 he was elected as Secretary General of the Council of Christian Church leaders of Iraq.

The following Armenian associations and committees are operating in Baghdad:

  • The Central Committee of the Armenian Orthodox in Iraq
  • Armenian General Benevolent Union
  • Armenian Sports Club
  • Armenian Youth Association
  • Iraqi Armenian Women’s Cultural Association
  • «Martyr Ohan» Sport Club

Armenians have their own schools, the Armenian private school in Baghdad held more than 700 students, nowadays there are about 130 students. Armenians has their own kindergarten. In 2005 the Iraqi constitution adopted that the Armenian language can be used as a mother tongue.

As a result of the Iraq-Iran and the Gulf wars and due to the difficult economic and security conditions in the country many Armenian families left Iraq and settled in neighboring countries, Europe and United States. About 1000 Iraqi Armenians settled in Armenia.

Recently some Armenians have moved to the northern part of Iraq as it is considered to be safer than other Iraqi regions. Their population in the Kurdistan region was about 2000. The population of the Armenians who lived in the northern part of Iraq has been increased after October and January 2010, when the Christian churches were targeted by the terrorist attacks.

Currently the number of the Armenians living in Iraq is about 13.000.

 

Armenian Catholics in Iraq

In 1914 the population of the Armenian Catholics living in Iraq was 300 people. After the First World War and till 2003 the population increased to be 3000.

The Armenian Catholics have two churches; one is called Our Lady of Flowers build in 1844 while the second church is called the Holly Jesus Heart built in 1937. In 1997 the main Armenian Catholic Church was restored and it is considered as the largest Christian church in Baghdad.

Archbishop Emmanuel Dabaghian is the Primate of the Armenian Catholics in Iraq.

Now the population of the Armenian Catholics in Iraq is about 200-250 families.

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