The plight of Christians and other minority groups in northern Iraq has taken a turn for the worse, according to reports, as thousands fleeing regions controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, have been robbed of their possessions at ISIS checkpoints.
ISIS, a Sunni extremist group that advocates Islamic Shariah law, is reportedly persecuting Christians in Iraq, forcing them to flee their homes in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, even as Muslims in Baghdad showed solidarity with persecuted Christians by joining them in symbolic protests across the city. Mosul is one of the holiest cities of Christianity in the Middle East and the ancient churches of Mosul are some of Christianity’s oldest.
At a rally in Baghdad, many Christians who arrived in the city after fleeing the violence of ISIS in the north held up signs that read, “I am Iraqi, I am Christian.” They were joined by Muslims expressing solidarity with the Christian community, also holding up the same signs, a report said.
ISIS reportedly issued an ultimatum to Mosul’s Christians ending Friday, to either convert to Islam, or pay the Islamic tax for non-Muslims known as jizya, or leave Mosul. However, a day before the city’s minority communities fled, ISIS took away the option of paying the tax and staying back, reports said.