Christians expelled from Mosul, Iraq, are speaking out about the treatment they endured by the Islamic State, a jihadist group formerly known as ISIS. The jihadists told the Christians to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die.
“Yes, they expelled us from our real land,” one woman said. “From our real land! They told us, ‘Go away! This is not your land. Go to your Christian people and to your pastors. Let them feed you, shelter you, and give you homes.'”
Muslims and Christians lived in Mosul together for over 2,000 years, and the people were only given a few hours to gather belongings and leave.
“They gave us an ultimatum, which is only a few hours,” said one man. “How can anyone give a 10-hour ultimatum? What can we do in 10 hours? The time limited started on Friday noon. Exactly by noon on Saturday, any Christian that remains would be executed.”
The takeover started with kidnappings of security guards and soldiers. Then the group destroyed statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary and raised a black ISIS flag in Mary’s place. Bashar Nasih Behnam left with his two children.
“There is not a single Christian family left in Mosul,” he said. “The last one was a disabled Christian woman. She stayed because she could not get out. They came to her and said you have to get out and if you don’t we will cut off your head with a sword. That was the last family.”
“There is not a single family that left and was not robbed,” he continued. “They took our money, gold, even the earrings from their [women’s] ears. They took everything, even mobile phones. We don’t know if we are going to go back. Until now we have no idea if there can be a return. We don’t know what our destiny is. They have even taken our houses in Mosul.”
After the deadline, the jihadists marked Christian houses with the letter N for Nazarene.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 19, 2014
ISIS targets the females who stayed behind. The UN released a report that the group will force females to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), but the group denies it. However, Mosul residents and Kurdish officials claim it to be true. ISIS did tell women to wear a full-face veil and told shopkeepers all mannequins must be veiled.
Not all Muslims support ISIS. A few Muslims condemned ISIS’s actions against Christians on social media and posted pictures of different Muslim sects praying for Christians. The International Union of Muslim Scholars spoke out against ISIS, and the group includes Sunnis, which is the group to which ISIS claim to be a part. ISIS also claims Shi’ites are infidels and wants to exterminate them, as well.
“The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) condemns the forced expulsion of the Christian brothers of Iraq from their homes, cities and provinces,” the group said. “These are acts that violate Islamic laws, Islamic conscience and leave but a negative image of Islam and Muslims.”
“They (Christians) are native sons of Iraq and not intruders,” IUMS concluded. “The aim must be to bury discord, unite the ranks and solve Iraq’s problems, rather than thrusting it into matters that would further complicate the situation.”