Local Chaldeans protest ISIS driving Iraqi Christians from homes
The militant group ISIS continues its reign of terror over parts of Iraq. The United Nations has revealed that more than 5,500 civilians there were killed between January and the end of June. Now, Iraqi Christians in San Diego are crying out for an end to the violence. An Iraqi Christian man is the picture of both incredible sadness and paralyzing fear. He and tens of thousands of other Iraqi Christians living in Mosul have been given a most terrifying ultimatum – an ultimatum delivered by feared ISIS militants.
“ISIS has declared Mosul ‘convert or die campaign’,” said Mark Arabo of the Neighborhood Market Association. “What they’ve told them is leave Mosul. They’ve taken away their passports and they burned them. And so really, it’s a convert or die.”
Arabo and other local Iraqi Christian leaders gather in El Cajon to announce that Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is ground zero for ISIS’s campaign to wipe out Christianity. The group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al Baghdidi, gives Iraqi Christians several options to avoid being killed: pay a tax to militants, convert to Islam or face eventual death. He says if those Christians refuse the first two options, they have until early Saturday morning to leave town, otherwise they’ll be killed. They dare not flee in their cars because they fear they will be killed at checkpoints. And what’s being done to help these persecuted Christians?
“To do a safe passage of these Christians into Turkey, into Kurdistan, and to get them a new home for a chance not just to survive, but to live.”
But the fact is, Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes for years, especially after the invasion of Iraq over 10 years ago leading up to the situation in Mosul now.
“Since the start of the war, 1.5 million Christians have been displaced,” said Ben Kalasho of the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve counted over 120 churches that have been bombarded and have been destroyed since the start of the war. And of recent events – with the ISIS takeover of Mosul – 4,000 Christian families have left their homes.”
“The extinction of Christianity is happening in the Middle East right before our eyes,” continued Arabo. “We’re talking to folks from the State Department, to do everything we can do and it’s a really trying moment not just for Chaldeans in the region, but for Christianity, for humanity, for all mankind.”
Arabo is also the leader and national spokesman for the group Ending Genocide in Iraq.