Thousands of Christians Flee Iraq After ISIS Ultimatum

Iraq’s Christians are escaping from the northern city of Mosul after the extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) issued a public statement requiring Christians to convert to Islam, pay a tax or be killed. The ISIS ultimatum gave Iraqi non-Muslims until Saturday, July 18 to comply, saying they offered three choices: conversion to Islam, a contract involving payment of jizya, (a protection fee), or “the sword.”

Thousands of Christians, some who have lived for generations in their communities, are fleeing to surrounding areas, many of them to Kurdistan. Refugees told The National Post they left everything behind.

Patriarch Louis Sako told the AFP news agency, “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

“In my opinion this is a very grave situation. No Western leader is moving to stop such a tragedy but they offer only empty words with no actions,” Dr. Munir S. Kakish, Chairman Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, told The Christian Post in an email on Sunday. “ISIS must be stopped before it wipes out Christians from other areas.”

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