An Islamic militant group has declared that an "Islamic state" has been established in Iraq and Syria following territorial gains, calling on "Muslims everywhere" to support leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the "Caliph," or the head of the state.
"Accordingly, the 'Iraq and Sham' (Levant) in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration," spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in a statement, according to Reuters on Sunday.
"It is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to (him) and support him...The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khalifah's authority and arrival of its troops to their areas," the statement added. more >>
The Catholic Church in Bahrain, a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf, is preparing for the construction of a new cathedral thanks to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who has given land for what will be the largest parish in the Arab peninsula.
The King of Bahrain met with Pope Francis in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace recently, and gave him a 3-foot long model of the cathedral, according to Rome Reports.
The two talked about peace and stability in the Middle East as well as the contribution of Christians in the country, which make up about 10 percent of the population. more >>
Some 10,000 people fled this week from predominantly Christian communities in Qaraqosh, Iraq, a neighboring city to Mosul where members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have reportedly overrun and are now viciously attacking Christians who fail to pay a poll tax.
"Community leaders say the residents of Qaraqosh fled by bus, car and taxi into northern Iraq's Kurdistan region on Wednesday night. Many are women and children. They are now staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centers. Most are in Erbil. They fled in a rush, with little time to bring belongings with them," said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a report Friday morning.
Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, is a historic Assyrian town of 50,000 people, located approximately 30 kilometers south-east of Mosul, which is Iraq's second largest city, according to the UNHCR. more >>
Persecution watchdog Open Doors is sending food, water and humanitarian aid to close to 3,000 Christian families that have fled the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was recently taken over by Islamic extremists looking to enforce Sharia law.
"The immediate needs were very obvious – water and food," an Open Doors field worker said.
"Because many of the refugees were placed in schools or empty buildings, they were sleeping on a piece of cardboard; there were no mattresses and pillows. And with temperatures reaching 113 degrees during the day, a third need made itself known – air coolers, especially important for families with young children or the elderly." more >>
A Christian pastor imprisoned for his faith, who had been missing for nearly three weeks and feared to have been executed without notice by Iranian authorities, has been returned to prison in Ghezal Hezar Prison in Karaj, Iran.
Present Truth Ministries, which has been campaigning for Pastor Behnam Irani's release, said on Wednesday that the pastor has been able to get back in touch with his family.
"He was unable to say where he had been taken or what they did to him," the group reported. more >>
A Christian father who watched his wife and daughter get brutally raped by members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because he couldn't pay them a poll tax in Mosul, Iraq, killed himself under the weight of the trauma this past weekend.
A report from the Assyrian International News Agency said ISIS began enforcing Islamic laws in the northern Iraq city which they overran on June 10.
Dr. Sallama Al-Khafaji of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights said the incident happened on Saturday after ISIS began asking Christians in Mosul for a poll tax. more >>