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ILLUSTRATION : Martyrdom of Zewar, Christian taxi driver in Northern Iraq.


After hostilities ceased in the Iraq war on the 9th of April 2003, an Open Doors team went to the country two weeks later. They visited church leaders primarily to tell them that we were praying for them, and were ready to assist them in the rebuilding effort. On that trip, they visited the widow of 38-year-old Zewar Mohammed Ismael. He was a Kurdish Muslim who converted to Christianity and for four years was a bright and beautiful Christian. A taxi driver in the border town of Zhako, in northern Iraq, he used to witness to his passengers and give them Bibles if they looked interested.


The Muslim leaders were incensed, naming him as a trouble maker from the Mosques. On the 17th of February, 2003, a man walked up to Zewar at his taxi rank and said, “Will you come back to Islam?” Zewar replied, ‘No, I am happy in my faith.” The stranger replied, “Then will you take tea with me to discuss it?” As they walked away other taxi drivers heard a series of shots ring out and a hysterical voice screaming “Alohah Akbar.”

The assassin ran away after his shouts of “Allah is Great.” Zewar lay dead in huge pool of blood, his body riddled with 28 bullets.


The team sat opposite Zewar’s family in a carpeted room that reeked of old socks. There were five children, from eight months to eighteen years, and his widow, who was not a Christian. They just looked at each other for a moment, then they all burst into tears. There was nothing to say. A terrible thing had happened just a few months before. A healthy happy man had been killed because he loved Christ and did nothing but good.


And now a woman was being pushed out of her home by her Muslim family that bizarrely held her responsible, and the children bereft of income and friends. The team could do nothing but offer financial support and prayers. (Source: IDOP 2007 Illustration kit).