Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mosul's Christian Exodus

The latest news from Caliph Ibrahim's Land of Horrors is that the last remnant of Mosul's Christian community has fled.  The group which I prefer to still call ISIS had summoned them to a meeting Thursday to discuss the community's status.  When Christians did not appear, the group issued the declaration they were probably going to issue anyway, requiring Christians to convert to Islam, pay a special tax, or depart.  The option of departure means giving up their possessions, but that is the one Christians have apparently chosen en masse:
A YouTube video shows ISIS taking sledgehammers to the tomb of Jonah, something that was also confirmed by Mr. Hikmat. The militants also removed the cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archdiocese in Mosul, and put up the black ISIS flag in its place. They also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, according to Ghazwan Ilyas, the head of the Chaldean Culture Society in Mosul, who spoke by telephone on Thursday from Mosul but seemed to have left on Friday...
For the Christians displaced from Mosul, sudden departure has meant a series of treks — first to nearby Christian villages like Bartella and Hamdaniya, already badly overcrowded, then to Kurdistan, a semiautonomous region of Iraq where there is more tolerance for Christians.
As the Christians leave Mosul, ISIS has painted the Arabic letter that means “Nasrani,” from Nazrene, a word often used to refer to Christians, on their homes. Next to the letter, in black, are the words: “Property of the Islamic State of Iraq.”
The militants have also told Muslims who rent property from Christians that they no longer need to pay rent, said a businessman who rents from a Christian. The landlord now lives in Lebanon.
Jonah is a prophet in Islam.  The militants are probably destroying his tomb out of concerns veneration of the prophet distracts from worship due only to God, the same reason many Muslim sites have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia.

Mosul's Christian community, which via the city's absorption of neighboring Nineveh may even date from apostolic times, will probably never come back.

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