While hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are affected by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s takeover of key cities including the Ninawa (Nineveh) provincial capital, Mosul, minority Christians – some of whom trace their origins to the earliest years of Christianity – are among those with the most to lose.
CNS News As the jihadists swept into Mosul this week, they reportedly looted and torched churches, raised their black “there is no god but Allah” flags and started demanding that women wear the Islamic veil.
The Assyrian International News Agency identified two of the targeted churches as the Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit, and an Armenian church under construction, which it said was bombed. Barnabas Fund, an aid agency that supports minority Christians in Islamic countries, said the attacks on churches were “a clear statement from ISIS that they are no longer welcome in Mosul.”
“It is feared that this latest exodus could be the final death knell for the Christians of Iraq,” said Barnabas international director Patrick Sookdheo. “Having previously sought refuge in Syria, this is no longer an option, and as ISIS violence threatens the stability of the wider region, Christians have very few places of safety to which to run.”
An Iraq-based representative of the religious freedom advocacy group Open Doors sounded a similar warning. “The ISIS terrorists want to make Iraq a ‘Muslim only’ nation and as a result they want all Christians out,” Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry said in a statement.
“The situation for Christians has deteriorated each year over the past 10 years. Iraqi Christians have faced kidnappings, threats and even death for being followers of Jesus. And they have little faith in their government to provide security as we see in the tragedy unfolding this week.”