As ISIS exercised its power in Mosul on Saturday, it gave religious minorities which differ from their extreme Wahabbist practice of Islam a choice: Convert, flee or die by the sword according to the Qu'ran. Those who fled were totally dispossessed. As the militant ISIS jihadists took over, they blew up shrines and mosques of these minorities.
Mosul (or Ninevah during biblical times) had been a city where tnes of thousands of Christians had once lived, dating back to nearly the beginning of Christianity. It had also been the a city were diverse faiths flourished. It seems that those days are over. It was estimated in early July that there were only 200 Christians left in the city, and that there were no priests nor masses being held there.
Patriarch Louis Raphael, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, proclaimed that these militant Wahabbists were worse than Genghis Khan during a special church service held in East Baghdad.
It was remarkable that 200 Muslims joined in solidarity with Christians to decry these heinous acts. Muslims at the service held up papers saying "I am Iraqi,I am Christian" as well as some writing it on their shirts. Some Christians wore the Arabic letter "Nun", which stood for Nazari--the derogatory Muslim term for Christians which also was the red mark for extermination and expropriation in the ISIS controlled city.
In Rome, Pope Francis remembered the persecution which these Arab Christians are suffering. The Holy Father assured them that they are in his constant prayers: “My dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know that you are deprived of all. I am with you in faith in He who conquered evil”.
While these prayers are certainly appreciated, it has not changed the facts on the ground that the Middle East is rapidly being stripped of its longstanding Christian population and heritage. And so far, the international response has been anemic flowery despite proclamations about treasuring religious liberty. Both the Patriach of Antioch and the Syrians along with Chaldean Bishop Shlemon Wardooni have called upon the international community for support.