For over 2,000 years, Christians and Muslims lived in peace in Mosul, Iraq, the country’s second largest city. That all changed on June 10, 2014 when the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, invaded the city and evicted its Christian population. With the Christians gone, ISIS has begun to destroy or occupy every Christian landmark in the city.
The Assyrian International News Agency released a full list of the 45 institutions the Islamic State destroyed or occupied. Here are a few examples:
Syrian Catholic Diocese
Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation
Archbishop’s Palace Chapel
Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese
Church of the Immaculate
Diocese of the Assyrian Church of the East
Church of the Holy Spirit
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and Convent of Katrina Siena Nuns
Christian Cemetery in the Ekab Valley
On July 19, the Islamic State gave Christians 12 hours to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die. The majority chose to flee the city. The terrorists marked Christian homes and businesses with the letter N for Nazarene and imposed a radical version of Sharia law. They told women to wear full-face veils and not leave the house without a male relative. Shopkeepers have to veil all the mannequins. The jihadists proceeded to destroy shrines important to Christians and Muslims, beginning with Jonah’s tomb. Jonah was a Biblical prophet swallowed whole by a whale.
A week later, Christians described the inhumane treatment they endured from the Islamic State.
“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.'”
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. One resident, 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.”