(RNS) 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.

Kirsten Powers portrait by Len Spoden Photography, courtesy of Kristen Powers.

Kirsten Powers portrait by Len Spoden Photography, courtesy of Kristen Powers.


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Human rights lawyer Nina Shea described the horror in Mosul to me: “(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.”

For the first time in 2,000 years, Mosul is devoid of Christians. “This is ancient Nineveh we are talking about,” Shea explained. “They took down all the crosses. They blew up the tomb of the prophet Jonah. An orthodox Cathedral has been turned into a mosque. … They are uprooting every vestige of Christianity.” University of Mosul professor Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, a Muslim, bravely spoke out against the Islamic State’s purging of Christians and was executed.

READ: With Mosul’s Christians gone, Islamic State troops take over 4th-century monastery

Lebanon-based Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younnan, who heads the Syrian Catholic Church, called the crisis “religious cleansing” in an interview. “I want to tell American Christians to stand up, wake up and no longer be a silent majority. American-elected representatives need to stand up for their principles on which the U.S. has been founded: the defense of religious freedom … and respect for human rights.”

Mosul’s Christians have fled to Kurdistan, which is providing refuge. Going back to Mosul is not an option: The Islamic State has given their houses and businesses away. There is nothing to go back to even if the Islamic State left.

Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf has taken to the House floor three times in the past week to plead for action from the U.S. and world community.

Wolf told me, “The Kurds have done a good job, but they are bearing the burden. President Obama should thank and encourage the Kurds for protecting the Christians. He also needs to provide (humanitarian aid), including funds for water and food.”

Though many Iraq War boosters have claimed that keeping U.S. troops there would have avoided this atrocity, Shea pointed out that a million Christians left Iraq in the decade before the Islamic State’s purge campaign. The U.S. invasion “did not benefit the Christians at all. Back in 2007, jihadists moved into Baghdad’s Christian Dora neighborhood and did just what they are doing in Mosul now. We had 100,000 troops on the ground and we pushed them out, but the Christians never got back their property.”

Patriarch Younan concurred, telling me, “Christians used to live (peacefully) and get educated. But since the invasion in 2003, there is…no safety.”

(Kirsten Powers writes for USA Today.)

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20 Comments

    • So why support one set of militant well armed Islamicists over the other?
      What makes Hamas so worthy of your support and ISIS so unworthy?

      Their goals are the same. Forcing people to live under the tenets of fundamentalist Islam under fear of death. Lovely people one and all.

      The world is better off without either of them.

      • Let’s face it: both ISIS and Hamas know that Obama and Obama’s America — and perhaps even Obama’s RNS — have NO guts. (And Russia and China know it too!).

        This is not an attempt to refute your post Larry. (In fact I actually agree with your post there, but ONLY that one post and only for this one topic.)

        America has gone isolationist and scared. Obama’s Defense and State Departments are fifth-rate (or filth-rate) at best.

        Iraq’s Christians know that they cannot trust today’s America for dog poop, let alone to defend their right to freedom and survival against the Islamic Terrorists. Game over for them!

        • I agree with you. The US has been acting fecklessly with regards to both Syria and Iraq. At this point Obama should not be worrying about isolationist nonsense and be sending troops and support.

          Lets be brutally honest, Conservative views of foreign policy have been an utter joke. It is all just “lets oppose Obama” rather than having coherent ideas. They are no help either.

          Had we not ignored Syria, the Saudi backed ISIS would not be such a well equipped army. Had we paid more attention to Central Iraq, ISIS would not have such support among the former Baathists and Sunnis. [They will probably turn on ISIS anyway]

          As for Obama’s Dept of State, yes I agree with you there too. Secretary of State is not a consolation prize. Hillary Clinton was entirely unsuited for the job and John Kerry has no idea what he is supposed to do.

          Luckily for the Iraqi Christians, the Kurds seem to have their back. The Peshmerga Kurdish militias have been the only force to effectively keep ISIS out of their territories. Iraqi Kurds were even giving refuge to Syrian Christians. They are also the only force the US in Iraq has always been able to trust.

    • Apple: larry is a liberal jewish individual….fyi. yes, it is worth pointing out because it makes a difference in how he will respond. Bias filters through everyone’s brains, and his is distinct.

      Note..
      “The world is better off without either of them”. Please observe how he actually thinks this, but if we reciprocate it and apply it to jews and post it, he and the admins here will go berserk. Call u racist, hater, bigot, all the liberal buzzwords that are meant to evoke emotional but unthinking responses.

      • Ad hominem Lles? How infantile.

        You are not interested in an intelligent discussion anyway. No real point in taking your posts seriously.

        The Palestinians are better off without Hamas. Iraqis and Syrian are better off without ISIS. Both of them are Islamic Fundamentalist militants who would execute someone like you without a second thought (especially if a political statement could be made from it).

        Both of them have an agenda which is no more complicated than making those under their control a living hell. Palestinians, Syrians and Iraqis alike.

        Not like you understand a damn thing about what goes on in the world.

        • You mad?

          Meanwhile, UN official Chris Gunness cannot finish his interview today without weeping over the “wholesale slaughter” and “denial of all basic rights of palestineians” enacted by the jewish state.

          So, again, you mad?

          I don’t think we care anymore if you are. What israel is has been doing is absolute institutional murder.

          Sadly, mr. Gunness probably does not realize that the very entity he works for is turning a blind eye to the cause he holds so dear.

      • what I don’t understand is why Israel keeps backing out of Palestine instead of keeping the peace there..

        After they win the conflict and the fighting is over they with draw, then have to go in again and more children are killed .. stay and keep the peace .. they could even assimilate palatine’s people in to there peace keeping force if they stayed.

  1. Lles you are hilarious.

    It’s funny how you can be a can be a cheerleader for islamicists backed by Iran with a straight face. Even funnier how apple can support one group of Taliban wannabes and oppose another.

    So pathetic.

  2. “Shea pointed out that a million Christians left Iraq in the decade before the Islamic State’s purge campaign. The U.S. invasion “did not benefit the Christians at all”

    I agree that the US should be doing more to help Christians in Iraq. But not because they (the US) are a substantially Christian nation, and not because they have the military capability to drive back ISIS or provide a level of security through their presence on the ground. The presence of foreign military might does not remove religious persecution and brings with it its own set of problems and consequences.

    Instead the reason the US should be helping is because freedom of whatever faith or freedom of no faith is a fundamental principle which they hold. It is the general principle which should be fought for, promoted and protected. The current situation of intolerance and persecution is not an argument for the virtues of a godless dictator (e.g. Saddam) in this respect. It is instead an argument for the moral necessity of both religious and political freedom.

  3. i think there Christian denomination is Greek orthodox Catholic .
    A very large denomination ..That could put a lot of pressure on a Goverment
    do to their vast numbers of people in the millions upon millions.. im wondering why there member’s are not doing so?

  4. The answer to the article’s question is, no.

    There will be no relief for Christians, WHEN has that EVER happened? No hate here, just history;

    1. Jews reject their Messiah, Jesus, and persecuted those who did accept Him.
    2. Rome blames Christians for a major fire that Rome itself was responsible for and begins persecution, torture and sporting execution of Christians.
    3. Rome appropriates the name Jesus for it’s own pagan worship-system and persecutes, tortures and kills anyone who dares to reject their state-church.
    4. Islam arises through false prophecy, perpetuated by Rome, and makes war on Jews, Christians and the Eastern Orthodoxy – they stop before taking Rome and retreat for no apparent reason. If you think the Crusades drove them back, think again – Ottoman Empire killed 200+ million people vs. the Crusades killed less than 10 million.
    5. Now that Islam has ‘retreated’ to the middle-east, Rome can rise up again and flex it’s muscle to wipe out the last of those who would not bend their knees to them. Thus begins the Inquisition.
    6. Working WITH the Nazis of Germany we see Rome quickly joining sides with Hitler and his plan to exterminate the Jews. Thankfully Philadelphia (USA) stepped in to ensure that a remnant of Israel remained, just as God promised them.
    7. Islam rises again to persecute, torture and murder/martyr Jews, Christians and Eastern Orthodox, still Catholics remain generally unaffected.

    See a pattern here?

    Who’s the bad guy in this ‘movie’? Where does Dr. Evil live?

  5. It is understandable why Obama refuses to provide appropriate aid to the refugees from Syria, Iraq,and Kurdistan who are the victims of an ongoing murderous massacre. He wants chaos in the Middle East so that it will help his agenda of establishing a new large Caliphate. Others who claim to follow a different path are strangely muted in calling for the delivery of the needed amounts of rescue supplies, equipment, and helping hands.

    For instance:” Quo vadis Petros?” Certainly the Vatican could obtain large cargo aircraft and fill them with what is required. If the Pope dropped by the camps for an ecumenical visit, he could also set an example for other men and women of good will, who might even help with the distribution of relief cargo as they pray for peace.

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