ICC Note: The advances of ISIS over the past few months that have cleared the Nineveh plain of Christians for many may be the last straw. Since 2003 an estimated 1 million Christians have left Iraq. The decade has been filled with war and violence that have decimated many, but Christians specifically have faced additional persecution as the country continues to fragment along religious lines. After having endured so much, many are now contemplating leaving for good.
09/27/2014 Iraq (Telegraph) – Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.
Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group’s black flag.
“Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years,” he said. “All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad.”
Many Christians moved from the Iraqi capital to Mosul and Nineveh in the north of the country following bloody sectarian killings and other violence after the 2003 US-led invasion.
Now an estimated 200,000 Christians have been forced to flee their homes once again after Isil swept through their villages this summer, demanding that they convert to Islam, pay taxes for being Christians or face death.
Canon White said: “Many Christians here are very frightened about what has happened to their community up in the north. Some have relatives who have lost everything: their homes, furniture, cars. They have nothing left at all.”
On Saturday armed British Tornado jets flew on their first mission over northern Iraq since MPs authorised them to carry out strikes on Islamic State targets, joining a US-led coalition against the militants.