The Islamic State’s (ISIS) brutal takeover of Iraq has had a devastating effect on Southern California’s Iraqi community, particularly in San Diego, which is home to the second-largest community of Iraqi Christians in the world.
San Diego Iraqis expressed anger when they discovered that their 1,800-year-old Mosul church (built around 200 A.D.) had been destroyed by ISIS forces, according to ABC 10 news.
“It’s hard to sleep,” expressed one Christian Iraqi woman who spoke to ABC through an Arabic translator inside El Cajon’s Our Mother of Perpetual Help Syriac Catholic Church. “It is the holocaust of Christian[s] in Iraq,” said church member Ray Al-Samak.
Monsignor Emad Hanna Al Shaihk, head of the Syriac Catholic Church, was baptized at the now-demolished Syriac Catholic Church in Mosul in 1955, notes ABC. He called the situation with ISIS “horrible, it hurts, really it hurts.”
Al-Samak said the incident in Iraq reminded him of the 2010 terrorist attack on Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic church in the capital city of Baghdad, which resulted in the murders of at least 47 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place during a Sunday evening mass on October 31. Al-Samak was baptized there. A shrine is located in the San Diego church’s hallway to commemorate the loss of innocent life in Iraq that fateful night.
An Iraqi church member expressed to CBS her fear and anger over the fact that her Christian family members in Iraq were forced this week by ISIS to leave their homes in Mosul. On Saturday, July 19, at precisely 12:00 pm, Mosul’s last Christian left the city, following a decree just two days before from ISIS demanding every Christian in Mosul either convert to Islam, leave the city, or be killed. The exodus marked the end of 2,000 years of Christian inhabitants in the region.
The destructive wrath of ISIS jihadists resulted, recently, in the targeted blowing up of the Tomb of Jonah-a biblical prophet and key figure in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam who is known as Yunus in the Qur’an. Of the 12 minor prophets mentioned in the Old Testament (also known as the Hebrew Bible), Jonah is the only one to be mentioned by name in the Qur’an.