21 July 2014

The last Christians have left Mosul

A town long considered a bastion of the historical, original form of Christianity in the Middle East now no longer has any Christians left. This comes after the ‘Islamic’ State reinstituted Ottoman-era persecutions aimed specifically at Christians, leaving them four options: conversion, heavy fines (jizya), exile or death. The ‘Islamic’ State has been marking Christian properties for expropriation using a spray-painted Arabic letter nun ن. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphaël Sako declared the ISIS depredations and persecutions to be worse than those suffered under Genghis and Hulagu Khan.

Thankfully, though, the many sane Iraqi Muslims who do not back this ‘Islamic’ State have bravely stood with the nation’s Christians in solidarity and resistance. It should be noted that practically no Muslim organisation in the region apart from the ‘Islamic’ State itself supports the ‘Islamic’ State (hence the scare-quotes on my part), but that it has been receiving support instead from the usual private Saudi and Qatari sources who have been supporting extremist rebels in Syria since day zero, cheerled all the while by neocons like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Now their terrorist movement sustains itself off of oil revenues and off of money and weapons pilfered from Iraqi banks and soldiers.

This is a tragedy. And it should be considered doubly a tragedy by a nation which prides itself so much on its Christian heritage. These Christians have been in the region since the earliest of the Church Fathers, and they deserve far, far better than to be treated as disposable pawns in this geopolitical game which each generation of our politicians (going back arguably even to Operation Ajax) seems hell-bent on bungling.

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