"Coexist" makes a nice-sounding bumper sticker, but Christians in Mosul, Iraq, are being denied that option. Christians have been a constant part of the landscape of Mosul for many centuries. On Thursday, July 18, conquering Islamic State forces issued an ultimatum to the Christians remaining there: convert to Islam, pay an unspecified religious tax, or die.
It has been a difficult week for Christians in Iraq's second largest city of Mosul. They had just begun to hold out hope that things might be getting better under the insurgent group who had seized the area on June 10. The group formerly known as ISIS or ISIL is now calling itself "the Islamic State," and they have made it clear that life is only going to become more difficult for the enemies of the terrorists in the coming days.
Monday was payday for Mosul municipal employees, but the Wall Street Journal reports that state workers were ordered not to pay the Christian employees. Food rations were forbidden to be distributed to Christian or Shiite families. One employee reported to the Arabic news outlet Ankawa that he was "warned that if he gives rations to Christians and Shiites, he will be charged and prosecuted according to sharia law."
On Tuesday, the Islamic State jihadists cut off electricity to the homes owned by Christians in half of the city.
By Wednesday, businesses and homes of Christians were being painted with big, red Arabic letter "N"s on their doors, reports Breitbart, while Shiite homes were painted with the letter "R." "N" stands for "Nazara," which means Christian, and "R" is for "Rwafidh, meaning rejectors or protestants. There was no indication as to the intent of these markers, but residents were afraid.
On Thursday, Christian leaders were invited to a meeting in a local mosque that night with the Islamic State commanders. They refused, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing their reason "that they were the original inhabitants of Mosul." Indeed, their history goes back as far as the first and second centuries in the Mosul and Ninevah area, a region that has long been the home of the largest pockets of Iraqi Christians.
Some, reports the New York Times, were simply afraid to attend.
After the refusal to attend the Thursday meeting, a document was issued after Friday prayers, according to Al Jazeera. The content of the document was read over loudspeakers at mosques and from cars driving through the city streets.
"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 dhimma contract is an ancient practice, not unlike the concept of Mafia extortion, in which non-Muslims paid a fee (jizya) in exchange for protection. From all news reports, it is an option that few, if any, are choosing.
The deadline of noon, local time, on Saturday, July 19, has passed. Newsweek reports that the document is very clear about the consequences:
"After this date, there is nothing between us and them but the sword."The Islamic State, formerly ISIS, has demonstrated their seriousness regarding their demands, and the few remaining Christians in Mosul have been fleeing for their lives. With only hours to spare, some have taken taxis, and some have been begging for rides. They have been piling into any vehicle that they could, some with only the clothes on their backs.
In recent weeks, ISIS jihadist have destroyed the historical graves of the prophets Jonah and Seth. They have destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, and removed the historic cross from St. Ephrem's Cathedral, replacing it with their black ISIS flag in its place.
More disturbing that those actions was their recent demand, reported by The Inquisitr that residents sacrifice their daughters to the terrorists for "sex jihad," to be used for the sexual gratification of the militants. The penalty for refusal was death.
Christians who failed to meet the deadline to be out of Mosul, Iraq, have been assured that they will face the sword. They are asking for prayer. There remains no more concept of "coexist" under The Islamic State in Iraq.