Fighters of the Islamic State stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014. ISIS fighters have seized Iraq’s second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad.
As ISIS continues to pose a menace to religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, Christians from the region have spoken with horror about what the terrorist group is doing to their communities.
Auday P. Arabo, lay spokesman for the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Diocese, told The New York Times that Iraqi Christians are calling it “a slow-motion genocide.”
“It’s unfortunate people don’t feel it until it hits home. But I guess it’s human nature that you only see what’s happening in the mirror,” said Arabo.
Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, who was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee a Michigan-based community, told the Times that recent actions by ISIS against Iraqi Christians was the worst yet.
“The bad things we look back at now — the Iran-Iraq War, the first Gulf War, the embargo, even six months ago. …We’d take all of that over today,” said Kalabat.
“We wish to scream, but there are no ears that wish to hear.”
Formed last year, the Islamic State is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Over the past few months, ISIS has garnered international attention for both its conquest of territory in the Middle East and its strong penchant for violence against civilians and prisoners of war.
Among its victims include Christian communities in Northern Iraq, many of which date back to the earliest centuries of Christianity.
Earlier this month, the Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors reported that in territory it controlled ISIS performed “outright targeting of all non-Sunni Muslim groups.”
“This has resulted in a mass loss of life, forced conversions and seizure of homes for Iraq’s minority Christians, Shiite Muslims, Yazidis and Turkmen,” noted Open Doors.
“Since then, IS has steadily moved north of Mosul into the Nineveh Plain, a predominantly Christian area. In total, more than 100,000 people have had to flee the villages and towns of Qaraqosh, Mosul and the Nineveh plain.”
The attacks on Christians in Northern Iraq represents the most recent series of violence against the Middle Eastern country’s Christian minority.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq’s Christian population has decreased dramatically as large numbers have fled the nation due to escalating persecution.
In late 2007, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, Anglican chaplain at St. George’s Church in Baghdad, told CBS that it was “clearly worse” now than under Hussien.
“Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They’ve never known it like now,” said White.
Efforts to combat ISIS have included Iraqi Kurdish militias battling the terrorist organization in conjunction with airstrikes by the United States Armed Forces.
President Barack Obama and his administration are reportedly planning out a long term strategy to eliminate ISIS from the region.
“The first phase, airstrikes against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is already under way in Iraq, where U.S. aircraft have launched 143 attacks since Aug. 8,” noted Fox News.
“The second phase involves an intensified effort to train, advise, and equip the Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, and any Sunni tribesmen willing to fight their ISIS co-religionists.”
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