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. The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, is forcing Christians out of towns and into isolation.
“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.”
ISIS told Christians in Mosul, home to one of the largest Christian communities in the world, to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die. The majority chose to leave, and for the first time in over 2,000 years, there are no Christians in Mosul. ISIS even marked Christian homes with an “N” for Nazarene.
“There is not a single Christian family left in Mosul,” said Bashar Nasih Behnam, who left with his two children. “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.”
Christians spoke out about the treatment they endured from ISIS. They said ISIS destroyed churches and statues of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, and raised the black flag in Mary’s place. Terrorists robbed the Christians at checkpoints, taking the earrings women were wearing.
White is in London to make sure the United Kingdom does not forget about the Christians in Iraq.
“We do not want Britain to forget us. We – and I’m saying ‘we’ talking like an Iraqi Christian – have always been with the British because they have already been with us,” he said. “Individual churches, individual Christians in Britain, have been a bigger help than anybody around the world.”
There were a million Christians in Iraq prior to 2003, but there are now fewer than 500,000. It is unknown if they can ever return. After forcing out the Christians, ISIS blew up Jonah’s tomb and imposed Sharia law in Mosul. The women must now wear full-face veils, perfume is forbidden, and the shops must place veils on all mannequins. According to the U.N., ISIS even sordered female genital mutilation, but ISIS denies the allegation.