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 >>
Gunmen wearing camouflage recently stormed two apartment buildings in Baghdad, Iraq, slaughtering 29 people, the majority of whom were prostitutes working in a brothel.
The attack happened Saturday, when a group of gunmen carrying firearms with silencers burst into the apartment compound in the neighborhood of Zayouna on the city's east side, executing 29 prostitutes inside as well as two men. The words, "This is the fate of any prostitution," were scrawled on one of the apartment's doors.
Police are now reportedly investigating the crime, and the building has been cordoned off, with only one entrance left open to residents of the apartment building. A police officer speaking on the condition of anonymity recalled the horrific, bloody scene of the crime to the South China Morning Post. more >>
A local Nineveh official in Iraq confirmed last Friday with almost certainty that militant members of the Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) dug up the grave of revered biblical prophet Jonah (Younis in Arabic) in the east of Mosul as Christians continue to flee that country by the hundreds daily.
In an Iraqi News report, the official, Zuhair al-Chalabi said since ISIL militants invaded Mosul, they have controlled the mosque of Jonah and have strong evidence suggesting that his grave has been disturbed.
"The elements of ISIL controlled the mosque of the Prophet Younis in Mosul since they invaded the city. It is still held by them until now," said Chalabi, explaining that "elements of ISIL engaged in the process of tampering with the contents of the Mosque." more >>