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ICC Note: The civil war in Syria has put its Christian minority in a dangerous situation. A number of Christians have shared the threats they have faced, especially from Islamic militants who have joined the rebel forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad. They have been forced out of their homes and told that if they want to return they need to first convert to Islam.
8/05/2013 Syria (Christian Today) – According to the Assyrian International News Agency, Assyrian Christians who have fled from an area of Syria called al-Thawrah (also known as al-Tabqah), have been told by rebels, “If you want to come back, convert to Islam, or you will be killed.”
An AINA story said, “Accounts by Assyrian refugees from reveal the real face of the Islamist undercurrent within the Syrian opposition. Furthermore, these accounts serve as a stark and chilling reminder of what has already been suffered by non-Muslim communities in Iraq since 2003.
“On February 11, rebel fighters from the al-Nusra Front took control of the city and its strategic dam, the largest of its kind in the country. They also seized control of the three quarters that housed dam workers – many of whom were Christian Assyrians.
“Whilst they allowed the dam’s original staff to remain in the city in order to continue its operation, management and upkeep, those who were not Sunni Muslim were not afforded the same privilege.
One Assyrian refugee was reported as saying, “Everything is now in Jabhat al-Nusra’s hands. All the Muslims stayed there, but if any Christians want to go back they have to become Muslim or else they will be killed.”
The story goes on to say that Christians report their property being stolen, their homes being confiscated, and their possessions being sold on the black market in order to buy weapons and ammunition. In many of these cases, those forcefully dispossessed were not even allowed the chance to take with them any of their personal belongings.
According to the jihadist Islamist ideology espoused by such forces as the al-Nusra Front, the properties and possessions of such “infidels” are halal (fair game), and it is not a sin to plunder them.
They also threatened Christians with death if they did not comply with strict Islamic laws. “They would call and text me on my cell phone, ordering me to do as they say, or else they would kill me! Can you imagine it?” said a Christian man from al-Thawrah, who had lost all he owned, and is now internally displaced with his family. “Even though I have left they still call me from there to bother me, so I keep my phone switched off unless I really need to use it.”

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