IRAQ’S Christians are begging the world for help. Is anybody listening?
Since capturing the country’s second largest city of Mosul in early June, the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has ordered Christians to convert to Islam, pay taxes levied on non-Muslims, or die. The extremist Sunni group is also persecuting and murdering Turkmen and Shabaks, both Muslim religious minorities.
Human rights lawyer Nina Shea said: “(The Islamic State) took the Christians’ houses, took the cars they were driving to leave. They took all their money. One old woman had her life savings of $40,000, and she said, ‘Can I please have 100 dollars?’, and they said no. They took wedding rings off fingers, chopping off fingers if they couldn’t get the ring off.”
We now have 5,000 destitute, homeless people with no future,” Shea said. “This is a crime against humanity.”
University of Mosul professor Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, a Muslim, bravely spoke out against the Islamic State’s purging of Christians and was executed
Reports have emerged that some of the thousands of Christians expelled from Mosul have died while trying to escape.
Islamic State militants gave the Christians until July 18 to convert to Islam, pay a special tax, leave, or, in the words of a statement by the extremists, they would have “nothing but the sword”.
Then on July 18 they changed their mind. All Christians were told by loudspeaker that they all had to leave by the next day – or be killed.
They spray-painted the doors of Christian homes with a red Arabic letter ‘N’, which stands for ‘Nassarah’, meaning Christian.
Before the 2003 US invasion, more than 1 million Christians lived in Iraq, including more than 600,000 in Baghdad and 60,000 in Mosul, as well as a substantial number in the cities of Kirkuk and Basra.