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ICC Note: The Islamic State in Iraq has threatened the existence of Christians in the region like never before. The militants’ attempts to establish a purely Islamic State has left Mosul, and other areas of Iraq, with no room for Christians. They are left with the option to either convert, leave, or risk being killed. The result has been that hundreds of thousands have fled as Iraq seems on the brink of breaking apart.

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

07/22/14 Iraq (Washington Times) – The Islamic State group’s demand that Christians in the city of Mosul convert to Islam or face death could be part of an attempt to win support among local Muslims via a harsh interpretation of the Koran to justify the violent threats against the religious minority, religion and human rights experts said.

“They do seem bent on creating a purely Islamic state that has no place for Christians, in particular, or any religious minority,” said Todd Daniels, Middle East regional manager at International Christian Concern.

“They’re really looking to divide the country on Sunni and Shia lines,” he said. “That does allow them to get local support in Mosul, so that [Islamic State] militants themselves aren’t going to be able to rule and control the city, but have local support and [will] be able to have a longer local presence.”

Ahead of a Sunday deadline set by the Islamic State, most Christians in Mosul have fled to Kurdish-protected areas, leaving behind churches and homes that have been seized by the terrorist insurgents, who have taken control of large swaths of Iraq over the past six weeks.

The militants’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared himself the head of a caliphate, or Islamic state that is to be ruled by Shariah law.

He has positioned about 3,000 fighters in Iraq and some 7,000 in Syria, according to a U.S. intelligence official. The ranks are comprised of Sunni Muslims, who have a history of violent fighting with Shia Muslims, despite being rooted in the same faith.

While it is not clear if forced conversion is justifiable in the Koran, it does contain passages that encourage “tolerant religious society,” Mr. Daniels said.

“There are very strong Islamic voices condemning this kind of thinking,” he said of forced conversion.

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