During his three-nation South American tour, Pope Francis pleaded for the world to finally call the slaughter of thousands of Christians a genocide.
“Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus,” he declared. “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”
Experts have found it difficult to calculate how many Christian lives have been taken by radical Islamists, especially the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group. For over 2,000 years, Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, housed one of the largest Christian communities in the world. They lived harmoniously with Muslims during that time. That all changed in June 2014, when the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) invaded and captured the city.
Those who managed to escape shared stories about the inhumane treatment they suffered under ISIS. The jihadists told the Christians to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die.
ISIS militants abducted 88 Eritrean Christians in Libya. They also beheaded 21 Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach when one of the terrorists promised the group will conquer Rome. Militants attacked Assyrian Christian towns in northern Syria where they burned churches and captured more than 200 Christians. No one knows their fate. They even burned alive an 80-year-old Christian woman. In July 2014, Andrew White, the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told BBC Radio 4 that Christianity is coming to an end in the Middle Eastern country.
“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.”
But ISIS is not the only group responsible for the genocide. Christians also face persecution in Pakistan. On September 21, 2013, two suicide bombers attacked the All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar. The terrorists murdered 85 people and injured over 200. A year later, police allegedly murdered Christian pastor Zafar Bhatti. A mob burned alive a Christian couple after they allegedly burned copies of the Koran. The woman was pregnant at the time. Suicide bombers targeted a Catholic and Protestant church in March 2015, which killed 15 people. In April, two Muslims asked a young boy about his religion. He said he was Christian, which caused the men to beat him up and set him on fire.