(above: a 2010 Christian demonstration in support of persecuted Christians – in light of the ongoing “Christian cleansing” of much of Iraq, is it too late to help?)
Last week, Christians in Mosul, Iraq were given an ultimatum by ISIS:
convert. . .pay the tax. . .or. . .die.
A statement issued by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) was read out at the city’s mosques. It called on Christians to comply by midday on Saturday or face death if they did not leave the northern city. Isis has control of large parts of Syria and Iraq and said last month it was creating an Islamic caliphate.
The ultimatum cited a historic contract known as “dhimma” under which non-Muslims in Islamic societies who refuse to convert are offered protection if they pay a fee, called a “jizya”.
“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the Isis statement said.
The New York Times reported:
On Saturday, to meet a deadline by the ISIS militants, most Christians in Mosul, a community almost as old as Christianity itself, left with little more than the clothes they were wearing.
Some went on foot, their cars having been confiscated; others rode bicycles or motor scooters. Few were able to take anything of value, as militants seized their money and jewelry.
Some — just a few, and because they were not healthy enough to flee — submitted to demands that they convert to Islam to avoid being killed.
“There are five Christian families who converted to Islam because they were threatened with death,” said Younadim Kanna, a Christian and a member of Iraq’s Parliament. “They did so just to stay alive.”
But. . .the New York Times also reported something positive in the midst of all this:
A day after Christians fled Mosul, the northern city controlled by Islamist extremists, under the threat of death, Muslims and Christians gathered under the same roof — a church roof — in Baghdad on Sunday afternoon.
In the pews Christians – and Muslims – held signs that read, “I’m Iraqi. I’m Christian.”
A Muslim woman sitting next to a crying Christian woman reached out and whispered:
“You are the true original people here, and we are sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam.”
PostScript: At a time of such chaos, violence, and loss – at a time of “Christian cleansing” by extremists in Iraq – this kind of compassionate (and courageous) love by Muslims in that church in Baghdad is a true expression of what Isa – Jesus – said:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”
(The Injil, the Good News According to Matthew, chapter 7 verse 12 & chapter 22 verse 39)
Shukran – thank you – to every Muslim who loves like this. . .