A blind Christian woman who was trapped under Islamic State control in Mosul for over two years before she was finally able to escape has opened up about how she boldly refused militants' demands for her to denounce Christ and convert to Islam.
Mariyam Petrayus, a blind Christian woman from western Mosul who recently fled IS (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Deash) territory and now lives in a displacement camp in Kurdistan, told the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw in a recent interview that she had to walk tens of kilometers through the IS-held territory before she could reach the safety of the Kurdish region.
Petrayus is among the 6,000 internally displaced people who were forced to flee Mosul in recent weeks as the Iraqi-led coalition's offensive to liberate Iraq's second largest city from the grips of IS continues.
When IS took over territory in Iraq, it gave Christians and other religious minorities the option to convert to Islam, pay a large tax, or die. Petrayus, who is now living in the Sewdinan displacement camp near Khazer, Iraq, recounted at least one instance in which IS jihadis pressured her to convert to Islam.
Petrayus, however, who is in her 50s, refused to deny Christ.
"He told me 'why don't you convert to Islam? Why are you Christian?'" Petrayus was quoted as saying in the interview. "I told him that everyone is on their religion, and nobody leaves their religion."
She further told the jihadi that she did not want to convert to Islam and be anything like him.
"'I do not want to become one like you,' I told him. He asked 'why? What is wrong with me?'" she recounted. "I told him 'you don't say your prayers, you kill humans, you earn haram [sinful] earning, and you harass people.'"
"He said, 'me?' I said 'yes,'" she continued. "He said no. I said yes, 'I swear to God.'"
Petrayus is very fortunate to be alive after having refused an IS militant's demand for her to convert to Islam. There have been numerous reported incidents of other Christians and religious minorities who have been killed by IS because of their refusal to convert and embrace IS' strict brand of Islamic law.
In one of the more egregious instances that took place October 2015, it was reported that 11 Christian missionaries and a young boy were killed by IS in Syria because of their refusal to renounce Christ and convert back to Islam. Militants even cut the son's fingertips off in front of his father in an attempt to get the father to convert.
The Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, also detailed a horrifying account in which four Christian children were beheaded by IS because of their refusal to convert to Islam.
Earlier this year, a Christian teenager from the Iraqi town of Bartella who escaped after living under the control of the death cult for two years also explained that IS militants demanded that he and his mother convert to Islam when they were imprisoned after trying to flee.
When the boy and his mother initially refused, the militant sent them a message by going into the next cell and shooting a Shia Muslim who refused to embrace IS' form of Sunni Islam.
"They came and took us to [the man's corpse] and told us that this would be my fate if we don't convert," the teen named Ismail told PRI. "My mother then said let's do whatever they want so that they wouldn't kill me. So we told them yes, we will convert. They asked us to say the shahada [Islamic declaration of faith] and we said it."
Ismail said in the interview that neither he nor his mother felt that they had actually made the conversion in their hearts. The two were able to escape after two years and went to live in a displacement camp in Erbil.