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 >>
A Holocaust Studies professor has rejected accusations by some world leaders that Israel is committing "genocide" against Palestinians in Gaza during the ongoing military conflict.
"It seems as if every time Israel defends itself, somebody points an accusing finger and yells 'Genocide!' Raphael Lemkin, who coined that term 70 years ago this autumn, would have been appalled by such abuse of his life's work," Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, wrote in a JNS.org article on Monday.
"For the term 'genocide' to have any meaning, it must be used strictly in situations that indisputably warrant such a determination, according to the legal definition. Applying it or withholding it based on political considerations will render the term useless," he added. 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 >>
Over 100 people, including women and children, were killed on Sunday in the bloodiest day since the conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas began two weeks ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for putting Palestinian civilians in the crossfire and using them as human shields, with the overall death toll reaching close to 500.
"We're sad for every civilian casualty. They're not intended. This is the difference between us. The Hamas deliberately targets civilians and deliberately hides behind civilians. They embed their rocketeers, their rocket caches, their - their other weaponry from where - which they fire - which they use to fire on us in civilian areas," Netanyahu told CNN in an interview on Sunday.
"What choice do we have? We have to protect ourselves. So we try to target the rocketeers. We do. And all civilian casualties are unintended by us, but intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can, because somebody said they use - it's gruesome. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better." 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 >>