North Idaho

Iraq native shares personal story of persecution

Iraq native shares personal story of persecution

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - An Iraqi native, who escaped persecution and now lives in Coeur d'Alene, is working to bring attention to the dire humanitarian situation in his home country.

When Michael Paul found out about recently slain journalist Jim Foley, he cried.

"I really cried today to God. I mean what a hero he is. He was arrested in Libya and he went to Syria again and he didn't care," says Paul.

Paul grew up a Muslim in Iraq before converting to Christianity at the age of 18. He assisted the U.S. military as a cultural adviser and interpreter and was kidnapped multiple times by different groups for his beliefs.

"People in Iraq today, they don't have social justice," says Paul.

Now he is on a mission: to convert Arabs from Islam to Christianity.

"The real source of extremism in the world and the unrest situation is the teaching of the Koran," says Paul.

After escaping Iraq, he moved to Coeur d'Alene and stayed with a host family before opening his own barber shop, J.C. Style. Paul says he is grateful for the freedoms America offers.

"They neglect what a blessing it is to live here today. Just the fact that the first amendment in our Constitution gives us the right to believe what we believe in and no one can persecute us. That's enough." says Paul.

Paul says he hopes the Middle East finds peace and would like to one day return to his native Iraq to preach the gospel.