ICC Note: Over 100,000 Christians have fled their homes in central and northern Iraq. While many are still living in harrowing conditions in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq, thousands have left the country. Jordan has received more than 4,000 Christians from the Mosul area over the past three months. There are fears that we are witnessing a final exodus of Christians out of the cradle of Christianity. While Jordan, Lebanon, and other areas may serve as temporary havens, for many they be just a stopping point on a journey out of the region and the persecution that so many have endured already.
10/26/2014 Iraq (New York Times) – They were among the final holdouts. Even as many of their neighbors fled the violence that engulfed Iraq after the American invasion, the three men stayed put, refusing to give up on their country or their centuries-old Christian community.
Maythim Najib, 37, stayed despite being kidnapped and stabbed 12 times in what he believed was a random attack. Radwan Shamra, 35, continued to hope he could survive the sectarian war between his Sunni and Shiite countrymen even after losing two friends shot by an unknown gunman who left their bodies sprawled in a Mosul street. And a 74-year-old too frightened to give his name said he remained despite the trauma of spending three anguished days in 2007 waiting to learn if his kidnapped 17-year-old son was dead or alive.
Now all three men from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and its environs have fled with their families to Jordan, forced out by Islamic State fighters who left them little choice. After capturing the city in June, the Sunni militant group gave Christians a day to make up their minds: convert, pay a tax, or be killed.
It was “the last breath,” said Mr. Shamra, one of 4,000 Iraqi Christians from Mosul who have come to Jordan in the past three months and one of more than 50 people sheltering in St. Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman. “We waited as long as possible until we knew we would die if we remained.”
Their flight is part of a larger exodus of Christians leaving those Arab lands where religious intolerance is on the rise, a trend that has caused concern among Christians outside the region — including the pope. It has also captured the attention of King Abdullah II of Jordan, a close American ally who has made the need for the continued presence of multiple religions in the Middle East a major talking point in recent years.