ISIS' Ethnic Cleansing Forces 100,000 Christians to Flee City in Single Night

(Photo: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)Iraqi Christians, who fled the violence in the village of Qaraqosh, seek refuge inside a church building in Arbil, north of Baghdad, August 11, 2014. Iraqi Christian families sought sanctuary in the church after fleeing towns and villages to escape the advance of Islamic State militants.

Over 100,000 Christians were forced to flee Mosul in just one night to escape the Islamic State's genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing, says an Iraqi priest, recalling the terror of seeing IS militants capture the city.

"Before 2003 we were 2 million Christians in Iraq. Now we are maybe 180,000. At least 1,800 Christians have been killed since 2003 in Iraq. That's why the people are afraid," Father Douglas Bazi told The Express during an interview published on Tuesday.

"Overnight 100,000 people escaped from Mosul and escaped from IS. When they arrived and took over Mosul they told the people we have three conditions according to Shariah."

The conditions for Christians reportedly were to convert to Islam, to pay the jizya Islamic tax, abandon their homes, or face beheading. The city's entire population was given a 24-hour ultimatum to agree to these demands, or be killed.

Expand | Collapse
(Screengrab: JustPaste.It)A masked ISIS militant reads the charges facing the two men tied to a cross, who were later shot in the back of the head for banditry, Mosul, Iraq.

The fall of Mosul in June 2014 has been well documented by human rights groups, and it represents one of IS' first major conquests in their mission to establish an Islamic Caliphate over Iraq and Syria.

Back in June, IS fighters released a 29-minute propaganda documentary showing never-before-seen footage of the group's takeover of the city, marking the one-year anniversary of its seizure.

"It was unthinkable that the advance would be so much greater than was planned," the video's narrator stated.

Bazi said that Mosul's captured residents face daily persecution, such as IS militants torturing entire families who speak out against them, and forcing girls to work as sex slaves.

The Iraqi priest shared a story of how one IS fighter forced a dentist to accept a girl sex slave as payment for his medical treatment.

"The dentist helped him and the man told him he would come back to pay him. The dentist said he didn't have to, but the man insisted he did because it was Shariah," Bazi said.

"After a couple of days he came back and he brought him a Yazidi girl and said, 'This is your reward.' If the dentist refused her, he was going to shoot him, so he took the girl and managed to reach her family."

The girl was apparently rejected by her family when she was returned to them, because she was no longer a virgin.

Bazi revealed a number of other horror stories from Mosul, including Muslims turning against their long-standing Christian neighbors and handing them over to IS.

"The Muslim guy, he went to the Christian's door and knocked and said, 'Did you hear about the decree, the announcement is to leave in 24 hours by Allah's name, and if I see you here tomorrow I'm going to kill you because I have the right to take your home.'"

In a report from September, Maan Basim Ajaj, a former adviser on Christian and minority affairs to the governor of Ninawa, said that one day Christians might hopefully return to Mosul, but only under specific conditions.

Ajaj said that Christians need international protection in order to return, and they need to be allowed to put together their own semi-independent administrative entity.

Anwar Hadaya, a former representative of Christians on the Ninawa provincial council and a senior member of the Christian political party, the Syriac Gathering Movement, said, "They [Christians] want the United Nations to issue resolutions that oblige the federal government and the local government in Ninawa, as well as the government of Iraqi Kurdistan, to protect these areas and to keep them out of various different political conflicts, so that their people don't become victims once again."