Christian Extermination in the Middle East

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The purge of ancient Christian communities throughout Iraq that started in June culminated in a show of great intolerance in July. Among other things, a Christian church that had stood on the ground of Iraq for 1,800 years—a church that was erected less than 200 year after Christ—was reportedly torched by the Islamic State, according to numerous news agencies, including Al Arabiya.

Islamic State jihadis also stormed and took over an ancient monastery in northern Iraq and expelled its few monks, telling them “You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately.”  The monks plead to be allowed to save some of the monastery’s ancient relics but the jihadis refused and ordered them to walk many miles along a deserted road with nothing but their clothes.  (St. Behnam monastery had stood since the fourth century and was one of Iraq’s best-known Christian landmarks.  It was built by an Assyrian king as a penance for executing his children Behnam and Sarah for converting to Christianity.)

The Islamic State issued a July 19 deadline for Mosul’s remaining Christians either to convert to Islam or face execution.  Islamic State members also singled out Christian homes by placing the Arabic letter for “N”—based on the Arabic word Nasara, or “Nazarenes,” the Koran’s pejorative for Christians—on the sides of their homes.   The result, in the words of Patriarch Louis Sako, is that “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

In response to the Islamic State’s latest atrocities against Iraq’s Christian minorities, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, George Saliba, denounced not just the Islamic State but Muslims in general for their long “history of violence and oppression against Christians”:

What is happening in Iraq is a strange thing, but it is normal for Muslims, because they have never treated Christians well, and they have always held an offensive and defaming stand against Christians….  We used to live and coexist with Muslims, but then they revealed their canines [teeth]….  [They don’t] have the right to storm houses, steal and attack the honor of Christians.  Most Muslims do this, the Ottomans killed us and after that the ruling nation-states understood the circumstances but always gave advantage to the Muslims.  Islam has never changed…

Islamic organizations responded by denouncing the Syriac bishop’s words as “hateful” and Islamophobic, demanding an apology.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made some telling remarks concerning the plight of Christians, especially in those Mideast countries the U.S. is involved in.  When asked if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church USA’s decision to withdraw $21 million worth in investments from Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people, the prime minister said:

You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.

The rest of July’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).
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