Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Catastrophe for Christians; Silence Isn't Golden in the Face of Rebel Atrocities against Other Religions; RELIGION

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Catastrophe for Christians; Silence Isn't Golden in the Face of Rebel Atrocities against Other Religions; RELIGION

Article excerpt

I've been trying to find words, anything to articulate the anger and sorrow that I feel as I listen to the reports coming out of Iraq. One of the oldest Christian communities in the world has just been eradicated while the world has watched helplessly.

My first instinct is to lay blame. We did this. We created the climate for this disaster. Persian and Islamic conquests, Mongol slaughter, Ottoman Empire, British Mandate, coups and revolution somehow the Assyrian Christians of Mosul endured all of that.

Saddam Hussein was reasonably tolerant of Christians (although the Kurds of Iraq might remind us that even Hussein's "stable" Iraq was hardly the best of all possible worlds), but after he was deposed by the U.S. things rapidly grew worse. Bombings in Baghdad and Mosul targeted churches as well as Christian-owned homes and businesses. Priests became targets for kidnapping and murder. Well before ISIS dominated the news, half of Mosul's Christian population had already fled.

And now they're gone.

Some refugees say there are no Christians left. None. Others believe there may be a handful: presumably, the few that were willing and able to pay the jizya, the exorbitant fee ISIS demanded of non-Muslims in Mosul.

Convert, pay, leave or die. Those were the choices given to the last 1,500 or so Christian families to leave their homes. Those who fled report that they were stripped of their cash, jewelry, phones even medical supplies at checkpoints as they left the city.

Even before Christians left Mosul, ISIS painted the Arabic letter "N", or "Nun", for Nasrani (Christians) on their houses, to show that they had been seized as the property of the Islamic state. Churches and monasteries became mosques. Statues, icons, and scriptures were destroyed.

And with Christians out of the way in Mosul, ISIS will enforce its brand of Islamic law on their fellow Muslims. Already, ISIS in Syria has stoned a woman to death for adultery, and the United Nations has expressed concern about a rumored fatwa ordering all females in Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation.

Over a million people in total are believed to have fled Iraq in recent weeks, most to Kurdish-controlled regions. …

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