Introduction / History Belgium was the first nation to repatriate Iraqis who fled their homeland when waves of fighting began in the early 1990s. Discouraged after the flood of refugees mopped up every opportunity they were seeking, over 3,800 Iraqi Arabs voluntarily returned to Iraq in 2015. Belgium provided one year of aid for the disillusioned people, mostly men between 25 and 45. Some are returning to Iraq, a land where Iraqi refugees have lost family members, businesses, and their livelihoods.
Where are they located? Most Iraqi Arab Muslims in Belgium are located in the capital city of Brussels.
What are their lives like? Because the Diaspora Arabs have been exposed to western culture on a grand scale, their traditional culture and way of life have undergone many changes. As a result, they have experienced much tension.
For most of the Diaspora Arabs who are able to remain in Europe, there has been a greater variety of job opportunities. This has greatly aided their poor living conditions. There is greater freedom for women to leave the home, fewer arranged marriages, and less social pressure to conform to traditional religious practices. Unfortunately, their family ties are weaker when they have lived in Europe.
What are their beliefs? It was early in the seventh century that Mohammed first preached the tenets of Islam to the Arabs. His successors quickly spread the word of Allah far and wide. Wherever Arabs went, they left elements of their Arab culture, including their religion.
The historical link between Arabs and the Islamic religion is still very strong. Today, most Arabs are Muslims, belonging to a number of sects: The Shi'ites, the Alawites, the Zaidis, and the Sunnis. Sunni Muslims are the predominant group in most of the Arab world, but in Iraq, the Shi'ites battle with them for political power.
What are their needs? Fundamentalist Muslims are very outspoken against Christianity. Believers need to regularly pray for the break down of barriers that separate them from Jesus. Most Muslims say they love Jesus, but few have heard his teachings. Resources in the various Arabic dialects are available; however, there needs to be a greater effort to effectively minister to Arabs in each of the European countries.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to reach out and share the love of Christ with Iraqi Arabs in Belgium.
* Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Iraqi Arabs.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Arabs who have decided to follow Christ in Belgium.
* Pray that the softening of their traditional culture will create open doors for the gospel to be preached among them.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Arabs towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Diaspora Arabs in Europe.