At least five Christian families who were not healthy enough to flee Mosul, Iraq after the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ordered them to convert to Islam or be executed, have renounced their faith for Islam, according to a local government minister.
"There are five Christian families who converted to Islam because they were threatened with death," Younadim Kanna, a Christian and a member of Iraq's Parliament told The New York Times. "They did so just to stay alive."
ISIS had given the Christians until Saturday to get out of Mosul, Iraq's second largest City which is almost as old as Christianity itself. In the days leading up to the deadline, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Raphael Sako, appealed for global help and explained last week in a letter published by AINA News that ISIS had started marking the homes of Christians, the majority of whom fled with little more than the clothes on their backs. more >>
As Iraq's Christians continue fleeing the city of Mosul and other regions following a "convert or die" ultimatum by Islamic militants ISIS, persecution watchdog group Open Doors said that the "unprecedented" forced exodus has left Christianity in the Middle East near extinction.
"The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times," Dr. David Curry, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, said in a statement on Monday. "This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it's likely nothing else can."
ISIS, which has taken control of Mosul and other parts of Iraq, gave Christians until midday Saturday to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed. Thousands of Christians have subsequently fled the region, with some seeking refuge at camps in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. more >>
Pope Francis prayed for an end to Christian persecution in the Middle East on Sunday, one day after Christians were forced to flee the village of Mosul in Iraq following threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a jihadist militant group.
While leading a moment of silence in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, Francis said that Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East will be the subject of his "constant prayers."
"Violence isn't overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace," the pope told the crowd gathered at St. Peter's Square. "Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away." more >>
Members of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly torched a 1,800 year-old Catholic Church in Mosul, Iraq and have effectively left that city "empty of Christians" as believers fled the area in fear of their lives, according to Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako.
Sources told Shoebat that the ISIS group in Mosul called "Daash" completely burned the Syriac Catholic Diocese and its contents in Mosul. A Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian Website released photos of the church in flames Saturday.
The torching of the church comes on the heels of the destruction of a number of other Christian monuments in Iraq in recent months including the tomb of biblical prophet Jonah, which was dug up by ISIL militants in the east of Mosul. more >>
Thousands of Christians are fleeing northern Iraq and communities they have lived in for almost 2,000 years following militant group ISIS' ultimatum last week that they convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed for their faith.
"In my opinion this is a very grave situation. No Western leader is moving to stop such a tragedy but they offer only empty words with no actions," Dr. Munir S. Kakish, Chairman Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, told The Christian Post in an email on Sunday. "ISIS must be stopped before it wipes out Christians from other areas." The Independent noted that ISIS, which has taken control of the city of Mosul and much of the surrounding region, gave Christians until midday on Saturday to comply. The militants have declared the establishment of an "Islamic state" on the territory of Iraq and Syria, where they have also been active.
"We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword," an ISIS statement was read out at Mosul's mosques, BBC News reported. more >>
Iraq could break apart into three separate states in response to the extremist Islamic group ISIS, which declared an "Islamic state" in Iraq and Syria, a Kurdish government official predicts.
"Baghdad seems to be pushing us into that direction, and we're closer than ever," said Karim Sanjari, minister of Interior for the Kurdish region, according to Christian relief group World Compassion Terry Law Ministries.
Jason Law, vice president of Operations for World Compassion, told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Thursday that Iraq splitting up into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish states is very much a real possibility. more >>