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ICC Note: As thousands of Christians continue to flee from Iraq and Syria, many are wondering if this is the final straw in weeding out the Christian population in those two countries. Catholic Herald discusses the necessary action to help prevent the collapse of the church there. Iraq and Syria stand as an influential region to Christianity in the Middle East and hold a long history of the Christian faith.

ICC has launched a campaign to provide aid to the Iraqi church to assist those in need who have fled from the attacks. Go here to find out more and donate: Iraqi Crisis Response

 6/13/14 Iraq (Catholic Herald) – Iraq, that great scar on modern Western consciences, is falling into the hands of a group of Islamist thugs who are so extreme that al-Qaeda got squeamish about them and booted them out. ISIS – which stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – consists of battle-hardened jihadists, many of whom have been tested in the war of attrition still ongoing against Bashar Assad in Syria. They are the very face of evil and soon they will control a wholly new state – carved from the wreckage of brutal insurgency in Syria and Iraq, dominated by hardline Sunni fundamentalism and inculcated with the kind of Islamist chauvinism that strikes terror into the hearts of anyone who dares to believe differently.

This is the final scene in the grotesque, theatrical death of Iraqi Christianity. A people who once numbered more than a million, who just a decade ago enjoyed the use of more than 300 blossoming churches, now faces extinction. They have already been persecuted to less than half their original number. Their churches have been bombed, their lives have been taken, their liberties infringed. To believe that Jesus is your saviour is already a life-threatening condition in Iraq. But ISIS represent a departure from even the everyday persecution of Iraqi Christians. ISIS promise a holocaust for Christians trapped under their medieval rule.

The Catholic Chaldean cathedral in Mosul is now surrounded. Christians in ISIS-occupied Iraq need only to look to their cousins in Syria to understand the fate that awaits them. Christian Syrians under the jackboot of ISIS have been compelled to pay a “gold tax”, remove all visible symbols of Christianity, cease public prayer and are barred from renovating religious buildings. Dissenters have, in a grim and heartbreaking irony, been crucified. Literally.

We cannot allow Iraq’s Christians to suffer the same fate. As they flee before ISIS’ hordes they know they have run out of places to go. Many who fled the ordinary, anti-Christian thuggery of pre-ISIS Iraq went to Syria. Obviously that is not an option now. The only answer, if we are to prevent a holocaust of our Christian brothers and sisters, is to open our doors and offer sanctuary.

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