While the West— the largely Christian West— is busy condemning Israel for protecting its citizens from a constant barrage of terror from a brutal regime that uses its own children as bait for bombings— another tragedy is taking place under our nose.
Iraqi Christians are begging for help from the civilized world after Mosul, the northern city where they have lived and worshiped for 2,000 years, was purged of non-Muslims by ISIS, the jihadist terror group that claims to have established its own nation in the region.
Assyrian Christians, including Chaldean and Syriac Catholics, Syriac Orthodox and followers of the Assyrian Church of the East have roots in the region of present day Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran that stretch back to the time of Jesus Christ.
While they have long been a minority and have faced persecution in the past, they had never been driven completely from their homes. The terror group ordered all to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or face execution, many chose another option: they fled.
“By 12 noon on Saturday, the Christians — all of them — left the city,” Yousif Habash, an Iraqi-born bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church, told FoxNews.com in an interview.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city had 60,000 Christian residents in 2003. By last month, the number had dwindled to just 35,000. It now stands at zero, according to Ignatius Yousef Younan III, patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church.
Habash has roundly criticized the Obama administration and the United Nations, specifically, for what he called their “careless absence” in taking action against the militants.
“Where is the conscience of the world? Where is the United Nations? Where is the American administration to protect peace and justice?” Habash said in an interview.
This is a tragedy of— excuse the pun, Biblical proportions, and the world’s Christian leaders are silent— literally, including Pope Francis, who held a moment of silence at the Vatican to pray for the end of the violence.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is the “first cradle of Christianity in Iraq,” Habash said. But after Islamic militants seized the city on June 10, Arabic letters with a chilling ultimatum were left at the homes of Iraqi Christians.
“The letter said that if you don’t convert or if you don’t pay, there is a sword between you and us, meaning execution,” Habash said.
Dr. Sallama Al Khafaji, a member of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights, reportedly told a local news agency that ISIS militants forced their way into the home of an Assyrian family in Mosul, demanding a “jizya” or poll tax. When the family said they could not produce the money, three jihadist militants raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father, who later committed suicide.
It’s 2014— not 1800s in the Ottoman Empire when these kinds of violent conversions were commonplace— and these kinds of atrocities are happening. And we’re silent. The big, Bible thumping Baptist Churches, the multi-million dollar Evangelical Christian mega churches, the powerful Protestants who run America— and of course, the Greek Orthodox Church, which boasts access and regular meetings with the President of the United States.
Where is the outrage? Where is the mobilization of our communities by our leaders to support these people and these ancient communities? Where are the letter writing campaigns to encourage our elected officials to say something, to do something?
Just this past Sunday, Islamic militants seized the 1,800-year old Mar Behnam Monastery— a jewel of Christianity and one of the oldest functioning Christian religious centers in the world, about 15 miles south of Mosul. The resident clergymen fled for their lives to the nearby city of Qaraqoush, according to local residents.
And while all of this is happening, we just continue bashing on Israel.