WASHINGTON (BP) -- Islamic militants have eradicated virtually every trace of Christianity from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, said July 23.
|"What is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide." |
-- Rep. Frank Wolf
"There are no Christians left in Mosul," Shea told CBN News. "They have all been driven out. They have been told to convert to Islam or die, or to leave."
Mosul has been the center of Iraq's Christian community for two millennia, but it is also a site with a significant place in biblical history. Ancient Mesopotamia was the location of both the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, as well as the ancestral homeland of Abraham. The city of Mosul is located on the site of the ancient city of Nineveh, the capital of the brutal Assyrian empire and the location of Jonah's preaching in the biblical account. Nineveh, according to the Bible, was established by Noah's grandson Nimrod.
Mosul became a familiar location to Southern Baptists in 2004 when four Christian aid workers, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, were ambushed there. Larry and Jean Elliot, David McDonnall and Karen Watson died in the attack. Only Carrie McDonnall, David's wife, survived, though she was seriously wounded.
Shea, who formerly served as vice chair for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marked the property of Christians in Mosul with the Arabic word "Nasrani," or "Nazarene" -- a clear reference to Christianity. Christian property owners were then driven out.
Last month militants offered Christians in Mosul the opportunity to enter into a dhimma, an agreement which would have allowed them to practice the Christian faith behind closed doors after they paid a hefty tax and agreed not to proselytize. However, multiple sources in the region said that offer was later withdrawn and all Christians were told to leave or face execution.
Members of Assyrian Christian and Chaldean Catholic groups streamed out of Mosul when the final ultimatum was delivered this week by ISIS militants, Shea said, and they left empty handed. Militants confiscated all of their possessions, including homes, cars, clothes "and even their wedding rings, sometimes with the finger attached if it would not come off," she said.
Shea also said she saw reports of ISIS militants destroying or defacing ancient Christian sites, such as the supposed tomb of the prophet Jonah, fourth century monasteries and churches. She added that militants tore down crosses in the city and burned ancient Christian manuscripts.
"There is zero tolerance for the religious other on the part of this group," Shea said. "They are rabidly bigoted against Christians. They hate Christians. ... Read More