ICC Note: With just five minutes to leave, one Archbishop grabbed as many of the books as he could. These books recount just some of the nearly 2,000 year old history of Christianity in Iraq. The church is on the brink of vanishing from this region. Entire cities that had been home to tens of thousands of Christians are now largely empty, occupied or destroyed by Islamic jihadists.
09/01/2015 Iraq (Christian Post) Since last summer, more than 100,000 Iraqi Christians have fled persecution from ISIS with nothing more than what what they were wearing. One brave leader, however, concerned that Christian history will be forgotten if ISIS has anything to do with it, grabbed books when he escaped Mosul with ISIS fighters on his heels.
Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf, instead of extra food or clothing, took books into the desert.
“I didn’t have any time to take anything,” Sharaf said. “I was told I had five minutes to go. [So], I took five books that are very old.”
ISIS is known for destroying historical relics and religious sites in the name of purging paganism.
Sharaf rescued Aramaic manuscripts that were over 500 years old, but hundreds more precious relics remained behind. Sharaf, grieved, told CBS News, “I think they burn all the books. And we have books from the first century of the Christianity.”
Since Islamic State (ISIS) took over Qaraqosh and Mosul, two Christian centers of Iraq, more than 100,000 Iraqi Christians have fled persecution under the Islamic regime since last summer. Their destination is Erbil, the capital of Kurdish Iraq, where they are grateful to have escaped mandatory conversation to Islam or execution.
Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, leader of the Syriac Orthodox church in the U.K., told The Guardian that ISIS’s treatment of Christians is genocide.
“Now we consider it genocide—ethnic cleansing,” he said. “They are killing our people in the name of Allah and telling people that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to heaven: that is their message. They are occupying our churches and converting them into mosques.”