ICC Note: At noon this past Saturday, the last Christian was reported to have left Mosul, Iraq. Forced out of their homes by the Islamic State, Iraqi Christians fled from Mosul to escape execution or forced conversion. The Christian community of Mosul stretches back 2,000 years with a rich history of the early Church and developing faith that now stretches to all corners of the globe. Many families were forced to leave with just the clothes on their backs. Left with nothing, these Iraqi Christians begin the search for a safe community to avoid the increasing persecution throughout the Middle East.
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
07/21/14 Iraq (Breitbart News) – The last Christian reportedly left Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul at 12:00pm on Saturday, ending over 6,000 years of Assyrian history in the city. Assyrians have lived in Mosul for over 6,000 years, converting to Christianity over 2,000 years ago. This all came to an end on Saturday, when the last Assyrian Christian left the city.
On Thursday, July 17th, the Islamic State (IS)– formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)– released a statement demanding the Christians in Mosul either to convert to Islam, paying the jizya (tax on non-Muslims), leave the city, or be killed. The threat was to be implemented on Saturday. It is being reported locally that by noon yesterday, every Christian had chosen to leave.
Here in Erbil, about an hour an half away from Mosul by car, I have spoken with families who were forced to flee. They describe how ISIS invaded their homes, taking whatever they wanted, and threatening to kill them. The estimates are that over 500,000 refugees have fled Mosul after Islamists took control on June 10th, and the few remaining Christians left yesterday.
One group of Christians I spoke with said that when ISIS first invaded Iraq, they portrayed themselves as armed humanitarians but then they quickly undercut that message by implementing strict Sharia law, such as making women wear the full burqa and banning all western clothing. Those Muslims who stayed behind are being forced to comply with the new puritanical laws and now they, too, are trying to leave the city.
One resident of Mosul I spoke with said, “It is like the Taliban in Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion.” There, Al Qaeda created the safe-haven from which they launched the 2001 attacks of 9/11 against the United States.
Some Iraqi Christians had called on the international community to help create a protected zone in Ninevah Province so as to provide protection for all minorities around the city of Mosul and to provide protection from future attacks by IS. While the proposal for a new Ninevah Province has been submitted to the Iraqi Parliament, it was not finalized. Because of the inaction both inside Iraq and the failure of the international community to heed the threats against Christians, the majority of the refugees who have just fled Mosul remain in danger of being attacked once more by IS as it continues its jihadi blitzkrieg across Iraq and Syria.