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ICC Note: This article puts into stark relief the reality that Christians in Iraq and Syria are facing. Oftentimes, it feels as if the geographic distance minimizes the realities of the suffering experienced by Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. When we pause to consider what this is like the feelings of desperation or despair come quickly.  

10/16/2015 Iraq (AINA) – Consider this imaginary situation. Hundreds of British citizens are kidnapped while travelling in the Middle East by a Muslim jihadi militia. The kidnappers hold the victims in an unknown and lawless location in a failed state and demand a ransom of one million dollars per person for their release. When no ransom is forthcoming, the kidnappers take three males, dress them in orange jumpsuits, make them kneel and, after they say their names, they are shot in the back of the head while being filmed. The kidnappers then threaten to similarly execute the remaining captives if the ransom is not paid.

Consider another imaginary scenario. Some 5000 American women and girls are kidnapped by the same Muslim jihadi militia. They are turned into sex slaves, servicing the jihadi soldiers who consider the whole process to be an act of worship of their God. The women are sold for a few dollars in open markets and are subjected to an ongoing nightmare of exploitation, humiliation and terror.

If both of the above imaginary situations came to pass, it is highly likely that the British and American governments would bring the full force of their military power to bear on the perpetrators of such mediaeval barbarism. And they would be right to act in the interests of their citizens in this way, providing the protection that governments should provide to their own.

The subtext in the above scenarios is that in fact the situations described are going on as we speak. The hundreds of citizens who have been put up for ransom, with some being killed on camera, are not British but rather Assyrians, kidnapped in February from dozens of predominantly Christian towns and villages in the Khabur river valley in northern Syria. The exorbitant ransom demanded is far beyond the financial capacity of the local Assyrian community.

Related: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq
Related: Attacks on Assyrians in Syria By ISIS and Other Muslim Groups

The thousands of women and girls, some pre-pubescent, serving as sex slaves are not Americans but mostly non-Muslim Yazidis, kidnapped in Sinjar in northern Iraq late last year. Some Christian women are also being held in the same manner. The perpetrators are, of course, the soldiers and leaders of the Islamic State, who have established rules of trade that include allowing an individual jihadi to purchase up to three female concubines. The captured woman are reportedly considered by their captors to have become Muslim if they are raped by ten ISIS fighters.

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