The jihadist terror group Islamic State is still waging a war in Syria and Iraq with minimal international attention. As columnist Kirsten Powers pointed out, the Iraqi Christians are “begging the world to help,” and no one is listening. Andrew White, the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, believes the jihadists will “kill at will” due to a lack of awareness in part fueled by the high level of interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“The Islamic State simply said we can do anything now the world is just looking at Gaza,” he wrote in a newsletter. “In reality that is true. Iraq seems like old news, yet things just get worse and worse here.”
Mosul was home to one of the largest Christian communities in the world before the conquest of the Islamic State. Christians co-inhabited the city with Muslims for 2,000 years. Upon taking over the city, the Islamic State told the Christians to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die. The people fled; for the first time in history there are no Christians in Mosul. The jihadists imposed Sharia law on the remaining residents and destroyed shrines held dear by Muslims and Christians. All 45 Christian institutions in Mosul are occupied by terrorists or destroyed.
“It is as if hell has broken out here and nobody cares, that is, apart from you, our supporters, who never leave us and keep supporting us in every way,” he wrote. “The situation is so serious, and it is very easy to feel forgotten.”
IS also targets Muslims, especially from the Shi’ite sect, in Syria and Iraq. The men perpetrate mass executions and severely abuse their prisoners, including publicly crucifying nine people. According to Amnesty International, these prisoners include very young children. In Raqqa, Syria, the “capital” of the Islamic State, two women accused of adultery were stoned to death. It was the first time that type of punishment was carried out in the city. The terrorists celebrated Eid, which marks the last day of Ramadan and a day for unity, with a 30-minute video of their numerous executions of fellow Muslims.
White and other Christian congregations are doing what they can to help Christian and Muslim refugees from Mosul and Ninevah. But according to White, there is a growing concern in Baghdad.
“Even here in Baghdad, people are terrified of what is happening around us,” he said. “The Islamic State has established their hidden cells within Baghdad, and people are seriously under threat even though they are not in the areas controlled by the Islamic State. The number of kidnappings here has soared, and people simply do not know what is going to happen next.”
ISIS crept into south Iraq and took control of the Jurf Al-Sakhar district, which is 40 miles southwest of Baghdad. The group took responsibility for suicide bombs in Baghdad, which have left over 50 dead and hundreds wounded. Without protection, Christianity could end in Iraq. On July 26, White said the end is near.
“Things are so desperate, our people are disappearing,” he said. “We have had people massacred, their heads chopped off. The Christians are in grave danger. There are literally Christians living in the desert and on the street. They have nowhere to go.”
“Are we seeing the end of Christianity?” he continued. “We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near.”
Iraqi Christian Sermed Ashkouri, 37, said it is impossible to have an Iraq without Christianity.
“We as Christians, we get stronger when there is crucifixion, when there is sacrifice,” he said. “Imagine Iraq without Christians. It’s nothing. Even the Muslim people say that.”