Leaders of the Islamic State are attempting to ensure the intergenerational continuity of their ideological hatred of “infidels” by indoctrinating all children within the areas of their control according to a new curriculum of radical jihad, which has replaced the traditional program used in schools.
In all schools, ISIL has banned the teaching of philosophy, chemistry, biology and mathematics, replacing them with courses on sharia and jihad. All schools in the territory of the Caliphate bearing Christian titles have been renamed, and study of the Syriac language and Christian culture has been abolished.
The educational reform has also imposed a series of new school textbooks that specifically direct children to hate and kill the Nazarenes, that is, the Christians, and the Yazidis, who are condemned as “polytheists” and “devil worshippers,” respectively.
The Anglican Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, said that mainstream education in Nineveh is now “jihadi doctrine” in line with “what is taught in the most extreme of extremist madrassas.”
“Basically, what is being taught is death to anyone who is not a follower of Mohammed,” he said.
Earlier this month, ISIL militants arrested more than thirty teachers in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh for refusing to follow the new education curriculum implemented by the jihadists. The teachers will be tried in the Islamic court set up by ISIL and the jihadists’ judicial body is expected to replace the arrested teachers with new ones who are more docile to the new educational campaign.
In a report this week, the UN’s Assistance Mission in Iraq confirmed that ISIS has been indoctrinating and training Mosul children in jihad.
The Islamic State abducted nearly 1000 children in Iraq during 2015, the report states, dividing them into two groups: “those aged between five and 10 were placed in a religious education camp; and those aged between 10 and 15 were forced into military training.”
The UN also cited reports that “children who refused to obey ISIL orders were flogged, tortured or raped” and that ISIL recruitment officers visited high schools in eastern Mosul and informed the students that “they must pledge allegiance to the group and join jihad.” The students were not given the option to decline and their families were not consulted, the report said.
The reform of schools according to a jihadist model is part of a larger program to eradicate any trace of Christian culture throughout the region, and any remembrance of pre-Islamic civilization. Since Islam appeared on the scene comparatively late, more than five centuries after Christianity, ISIS has systematically destroyed even historic monuments that bear witness to a culture that predates its own.
Reports Wednesday revealed that ISIL had completely demolished the 1400-year-old Monastery of St. Elijah in Mosul, the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. Also known by the name of Dair March Elijah, the monastery, was founded in 590 AD on a hill overlooking Mosul. New satellite images confirm that the ancient stone walls have been reduced to dust, likely with the use of bulldozers and perhaps explosives.
The Islamic State’s eradication of the memory of Christianity includes the elimination of the Christians themselves, either through death, forced conversion or exile. As a result of killings and flight from the region, the number of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 1.4 million in 2003 to less than 300,000 today, and many of those in exile have no intention of ever returning home.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome