Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Iraqi Christians Excommunicated by ISIS or Convert or Face Death

Exodus: Thousands of Iraqi Christians today poured out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis gave them an ultimatum - convert to Islam, pay a special tax or face death. Above, Christian women pray at a church in Arbil, Kurdistan

Thousands of Iraqi Christians today poured out of Mosul after ISIS jihadis gave them an ultimatum - convert, pay or face death.
The Islamic State terror group declared that Christians must either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or leave the city, around 250 miles north-west of Baghdad.
If they did not do so by noon (9am GMT) today, there would be 'nothing for them but the sword', it said.
  • ISIS told Christians they must convert, pay special tax or leave Mosul, Iraq
  • If they did not, there would be 'nothing for them but the sword', it declared
  • Deadline of noon (9am GMT) today was relayed by mosques in the region
  • Christians have now joined Shiite and other refugees in nearby Kurdistan
  • Chaldean patriarch: 'For first time in history, Mosul is empty of Christians'
  • Militants enforcing an extreme Islamic law launched offensive on June 9

  •  As militants attempted to break government defences in strategic areas and edge closer to Baghdad, Christians fled to join hundreds of thousands of Shiite and other refugees in the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan.
    Journey: The mass displacement was the latest in six weeks of turmoil which has forced more than 600,000 people from their homes, left thousands dead and brought Iraq to the brink of collapse

    Their escape to the safety coincided with the expected homecoming of Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, after 18 months of medical treatment in Germany.

     Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako, who heads Iraq's largest Christian community, said the terrifying ultimatum had been relayed by mosques in ISIS-controlled Mosul.
    He told AFP: 'Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil [in Kurdistan]. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.'
    Most Christians in the northwestern Nineveh province fled in terror after jihadist-led militants enforcing an extreme version of sharia - or Islamic law - launched an offensive on June 9.
    But many of the poorest families returned when the fighting stopped and ISIS started administering the city.
    Mr Sako said the number of Christians who were still in Mosul on Thursday was around 25,000.
    Today, Human Rights Watch said the Islamic State 'seems intent on wiping out all traces of minority groups from areas it now controls in Iraq.'
    Iraq's Christian population includes Chaldean, Assyrian, Armenian and Syriac communities.
    Some of these are among the world's oldest and speak a form of Aramaic, a language thought to have been spoken by Jesus Christ.
    Chaldo-Assyrians follow eastern rites of the Catholic Church, while Syriacs consider themselves Eastern Orthodox.
    The Christian population once numbered more than a million nationwide, with upwards of 600,000 in Baghdad alone, but now there are now fewer than 400,000 across Iraq.
    This is largely because since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, sectarian attacks against them have been mounting.
    Iraq is also home to a small community of Mandean Sabeans. They are not considered Christians and practice one of the world's oldest surviving Gnostic religions, but they worship John the Baptist as their central prophet.
    Now-executed president Saddam Hussein's deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz is from a Chaldean Catholic family and is one of Iraq's best known Christians.


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