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Kristallnacht in Iraq

Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency

John Burger - published on 07/19/14 - updated on 06/08/17


posted on Christian websites.

The decree bore ISIS’s black logo and said the expulsion date was set by “Caliph Ibrahim” – a reference to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of ISIS.

On July 17 and 18, some Christians fleeing Mosul reported that ISIS stole their gold, jewelry, or other valuables at checkpoints, two local Christian authorities told Human Rights Watch.

Long before taking Mosul, ISIS and other Sunni extremist groups were taxing many government and private businesses, including those of Sunnis as well as Shias, Yazidis, and Christians. However local priests and government officials said the new taxation appeared to specifically target Christians.

Human Rights Watch spoke with one Christian merchant who said two men who identified themselves as “Islamic State” came to his cellphone shop on July 14 and told him he would have to pay US$200 to $250 a month to keep open his store, “because you are not a believer.” The merchant said he initially tried to argue with the two men, although one was armed:

I told them, “I already have permission to run this shop.” They said, “Your permission expired—that was Maliki’s permission.” One of them took my hand and said, “Take my advice, pay the tax or do not open your shop after today.” I told them, “Okay, let me check with my father on that.” Later that day I took all of my mobile phones and accessories out of the store and I left town.

On June 29, ISIS kidnapped two nuns, ages about 40 and 60, three Christian orphans, including a 12-year-old boy, and two 20-year-old women, three Christian religious authorities and two acquaintances of the nuns told Human Rights Watch. ISIS released the nuns and orphans on July 14.

A priest from the region, who was briefed by local Catholic authorities on the case, told Human Rights Watch that ISIS seized the nuns and orphans as they were buying gasoline in Mosul. He said the nuns and orphans were about to drive to Talkaif, a town eight kilometers northeast of the city that has sheltered Christians and other minorities since the ISIS takeover.

The priest said the elder nun, who ran the Maskanta Chaldean Church orphanage in Mosul, was on the phone when ISIS fighters kidnapped her from s al-Sa`a neighborhood:

She was buying fuel at a gas station. She was talking on the phone with another nun and was telling her, “The people here say the so-called revolutionaries [a reference to armed Sunni groups in Mosul] have run away.” As soon as she said that, the line went dead. We heard later that the terrorists took her at that very moment.

On June 29, the day the nuns and orphans were kidnapped, ISIS seized the Mosul properties of the Iraqi Chaldean Catholic archdiocese, the priest and Emil Shimoun Nona, the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, told Human Rights Watch. The same day, ISIS also occupied Mosul’s Church of St. Ephrem, the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archbishopric, Christian religious officials said. Archbishop Nona said that the gunmen arrived at the Chaldean archdiocese compound in the morning:

Four cars came to our seat. Each car carried three gunmen, most with masks. They broke open the doors and took some small statues from inside the property and broke them outside. They took control of the premises and they placed their black banners on the roof and the entrance. They told neighbors, “This is our property, don’t touch it.”

ISIS also removed a statue of the Virgin Mary from the grounds of al-Tahira church near Imam Mohsen mosque, one of the mosques that ISIS has been using for Muslim “repentance” ceremonies, one religious and one civil society source told Human Rights Watch. The statue is one of five symbols of Mosul’s cultural and religious heritage that ISIS has desecrated, according to residents, regional government and religious officials, and photos posted on social media.

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Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastIraqIslamist MilitantsMosul
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