Mosul terror ultimatum for fleeing Christian community
Last updated on August 8th, 2014 at 02:44 pm
The Arabic N for ‘Nisrani’ or Nazarene was painted on the doors of Christian homes in Mosul by the Islamic militants. Believers around the world are now using the symbol in social media such as Facebook and Twitter to express solidarity with the persecuted Iraqi Christians.
THE REMAINING CHRISTIANS OF MOSUL, which was Nineveh in the Bible, were forced to flee their homes after Islamist militants threatened to kill them if they did not convert to Islam or pay the jizya tax. If they could not pay the tax to IS, the new name for ISIS (Islamic State of Iraqand Syria), they had to leave Mosul by noon on 19 July without taking any of their possessions with them.
As most said they could not afford the tax, they had to flee, but their exodus from the ancient Christian city was marked by terror and abuse, leaving many alive but penniless.
Having thrown what supplies they could together, some 85 families reported having their cars, money, food, mobile phones, jewellery and even medicines taken from them at IS checkpoints.
Hundreds of Christians arrived exhausted and dehydrated after walking over 40 miles to reach safety in the Kurdish controlled zone in the north, where they are staying in churches and schools.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, Barnabas Fund’s International Director, said: “There have been Christians inMosulfor almost 2,000 years. Now, because of the barbaric and cruel actions of Islamist militants, our brothers and sisters are being forced to flee their city with nothing. They desperately need our prayers and support.”
A few days before issuing the ultimatum, IS started marking properties belonging to Christians inMosulwith the Arabic letter N, standing for “Nisrani” (Nazarene, ie Christian) along with the statement, ‘Property of the Islamic State of Iraq.’
The threat to Christians has been intensifying as IS has expanded its territory inIraq. Church property has been seized and Christian symbols destroyed.
Barnabas Fund has invited Christians around the world to use the letter as their profile image on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to show solidarity with their persecuted brothers and sisters. The aim is to pressure our government and its Western counterparts that more must be done to protect and support Mosul’s terrorised Christians.
On 19 July, a photo was released showing a 1,800-year-oldMosulchurch ablaze. A video had previously been posted on YouTube showing a tomb being smashed up with a sledgehammer; according to government officials, it was “almost certainly” that reputed to be of the Old Testament prophet Jonah.
Other religious and ethnic minorities are also being targeted by the Sunni militants; over 200 Turkmen, Shabaks and Yazidis have been kidnapped and at least 11 of them killed. There has also been prominent propaganda of prisoners being executed.
The UN and US condemned what they both described as the ‘systematic persecution’ of Christians and other minorities in Iraq by IS.
Barnabas Fund says it has liaised with Iraqi partners and sent a additional grant to provide emergency aid for those driven destitute from their homes.
“What is happening today in Mosul brings horror, fear and bad memories to the Christians of Iraq and leads us to question; is this happening in 21st century and in front of the civilized world where innocent Christian civilians are forced to convert, be treated as Dhimmi, or slaughtered?” asked a senior Iraqi church leader.
Dhimma is the status given to Christians and Jews in an Islamic state. It affords them a degree of protection and allows them to keep their own faith, provided they adhere to various demeaning regulations intended to mark them out as inferior to Muslims, and pay the jizya, a humiliating tax or tribute that the Quran commands is paid “with willing submission and while feeling themselves subdued.” (Q 9:29).
The horrors in Mosul are the latest in a long history of persecution of Iraqi Christians. Barnabas Fund has been assisting with food, medical help, housing, winter relief, education and many other needs since the 1990s. Anyone wanting to assist can do this most easily via www.barnabasfund.org (project 20-246 Iraq Feeding Christian Families).