By Mary Ann Mueller — Originally published in Virtue Online
Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich had a goal in mind: destroy Judaism … stamp out the Jews as a “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” The wholesale slaughter of European Jews is remembered in 20th century history as The Holocaust — an ethnic cleansing of a religious people — the Jews. However, others also got caught up in the Third Reich’s reign of terror and death: the disabled and feeble minded … Gypsies … Slavs … Eastern Europeans … homosexuals … non-Aryan races … non-Europeans … emigrants… Jehovah’s Witnesses … Freemasons … social deviants … political opponents.
The word holocaust comes from the Greek — holókaustos. Holó — whole; kaustos — burnt. Holocaust literally means: “sacrificed by fire.” Before Hitler met his end in 1945, a total of 11 million people met their ends, 10 percent of them children. The European Jewish population was reduced from nine million to three million as six million Jews were marched into the infamous consecration camps and their systematic exterminations.
Today another holocaust is happening. This time it is in Iraq. Christians are being driven out of their homes and brought to death by the sword if they do not bow to ISIS’ Islamic god — Allah. Christians are being systematically wiped from the face of the ancient Arab world, which edges the Holy Land. Their places of worship are being decimated and holy sites are destroyed. The Tomb of Jonah in Mosul, Iraq was reduced to rubble while an 1 800-year-old Christian church was burned. Even other Muslims do not survive ISIS’ wrath — Shiite mosques have been flattened while Sunni and Sufi shrines have been destroyed in an attempt to instill fear.
In Biblical times, modern-day Iraq was known as the Kingdom of Babylonia in Mesopotamia. Much of Old Testament history occurred in Iraq. The Garden of Eden was in Iraq. The cradle of civilization was in Iraq. The Ark and the Tower of Babel were built in Iraq. Jonah preached in Nineveh — today known as Mosul. Adam and Eve, Jacob and Rachel, King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar, Daniel and the lion’s den, Noah and Abraham, Melchior, Casper and Belthazer (three Wisemen) and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (the fiery furnace) all have ties to ancient Iraq. Other than Israel, no other nation has more Biblical history or scriptural prophecy associated with it than Iraq. Iraqi Christians are considered to be one of the oldest continuous surviving Christian communities in the world, dating back to the first century New Testament era. They have nervously coexisted with Islam since it was established in the seventh century.
ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, is known for its hard-line ideology and harsh interpretation of radicalised Wahhabi Islam, which is described as an “orthodox”, “ultraconservative” “austere”, “fundamentalist”, “puritanical” Islamic “reform movement” focused on the restoration of “pure monotheistic worship” through “Jihadist” methods. It is an “extremist” group known for its brutal violence, which is particularly directed at Shi’a Muslims and Christians. Iraq has been especially hard hit. Christians are fleeing for their lives with what they have on their backs. ISIS has either confiscated or destroyed what was left behind.
ISIS or IS
According to Wikipedia ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — is considered an unrecognised state and an Islamic fundamentalist Jihadist group. The redefining Islamic State is self-proclaimed as a “caliphate” — an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, known as a “caliph” (Amir al-Mu’minin Caliph Ibrahim) — the head of state and theocratic absolute monarch — and the “successor” – to Muhammad. ISIS claims absolute religious authority over all 1.6 billion Muslims across the world and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its direct political control, beginning with nearby territory in the Arab world. The group has been officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, and has been widely described as a terrorist group by Western media sources.
In October 2011, the US State Department listed al-Baghdadi as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” He has a US $10 million (R100 million) price on his head for information leading to his capture or death.
ISIS declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the Amir al-Mu’minin Caliph Ibrahim on June 28, the first day of Ramadan 2014. Since then, he has been gobbling up Iraqi towns at a phenomenal rate. Every morning, the ISIS map is being redrawn as Wahhabi Islam — a radicalized form of Sunni Islam — continues to spread with the Koran in one hand and a sword in the other.
Mosul was originally over run by ISIS on June 10. On July 17, the Caliph issued an ultimatum to Mosul Christians: “Choose one of these,” he ordered. “Islam, the sword, Jizyah or flee.” Two days later, the last Christian in Mosul left.
ISIS’ form of Jihad is simple — infidels (Christians) either convert to ISIS’ method of radicalised Islam, or pay an exorbitant monthly per person religious tax (Jizyah), or leave their homes forever, or die by the sword. Most have left, few have converted, many have died, none can afford the price of Jizyah. At one time there were 500 000 Christians in Mosul making it the largest Christian city in Iraq. Now there are none — not one — for the first time in Christian history the Gospel has been silenced in Mosul.
Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam that make up Islamic prayer life. The month-long obedience to fasting (Sawm) and self-control occurs during the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. The other pillars in Islam include the declaration (Shahadah) that there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s final messenger; praying (Ṣalāt) five times a day; giving (Zakāt) 2.5 percent of one’s accumulated wealth for charity; and making a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. Although Jihad, sometimes called the “Sixth Pillar of Islam,” is not an official pillar of Islam, it is an Islamic religious duty in which all Muslims are to participate against those who do not believe in Allah. This is the basis of militant Islamic violence and what ISIS takes to heart — convert or die. ISIS says there is no place for Christians in what is now being called The Islamic State (IS).
Islam is one of the three Abrahamic faiths — along with Christianity and Judaism — all of which trace their religious roots to the Old Testament patriarch Abraham. Muslims consider Abraham one of their great prophets and his first-born son, Ishmael is believed to be an ancestor of Muhammad. Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, brought the young child to the holy city of Mecca, which became the birthplace of both Muhammad and Islam. Muslims believe that Abraham also went to Mecca where he built the “Kaaba” — the holy of holies within Mecca’s most sacred mosque. It is to the Kaaba that Muslims face when they pray.
Islam (1.6 billion) is second only to Christianity (2.2 billion) in the number of adherents. It is now the fastest growing religion in the world, in part due to Jihad. There are two main different “schools” or branches of Islam and several minor sects. ISIS practices a radical form of Sunni, which is the largest branch of Islam. Shi’a Islam is smaller but the religious branch of Iraq’s recognized legitimate government.
The Prophet Muhammad (570-632 AD) founded Islam. He came from Arabia’s city of Mecca and was able to unify the Arabian Peninsula — modern-day Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait — into a common religion.
Muslims believe that in 610 AD the Archangel Gabriel first visited Muhammad — their greatest prophet and final messenger of God. Through a series of revelations, ending with Muhammad’s death 23 years later, the archangel is said to have revealed the words of the Koran, in much the same way the Angel Moroni supposedly revealed the golden plates to Joseph Smith upon which the Book of Mormon was written.
Islam spread to Iraq before Muhammad’s death. Following his death, the new religion rapidly spread due to aggressive missionary activity fanning out from Mecca through the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, then on to northern Africa and to southwest Asia, creating the heart of the Muslim world.
Although the Pakistani-born Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is a Christian, he comes from Shi’a Muslim roots. His father was a Christian convert from Islam. After the young Anglican priest became the Bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan, he was forced to flee. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie was instrumental in helping him immigrate to Britain and re-establish his Anglican ministry in the Church of England.
Recently, the BBC reported that the French government has announced it is prepared to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians who are being forced to flee for fear of their lives in the face of the genocide being carried out by Islamic militants in their homeland.
“I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history,” Archbishop Welby said. “It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety.”
Following the example set by France, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby is calling on Great Britain to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians seeking sanctuary.
The mark of ISIS
To aid ISIS in identifying Christians, they are being marked with the Arabic letter ” ن ” representing the word “Nasarah” the Arabic word for Nazarene meaning — Christian. Christian homes in Mosul have been tagged with a red ن encircled in red. The symbol is not a smiley face or a smiling Cyclops, but is a mark of violence and death, just as the yellow Star of David with the embossed word “JUDE” meant terror and death for the Jews 70 years ago in Nazi Europe.
It is now believed that the last Christian has fled Mosul. The homes they left behind are being claimed by the ISIS and marked as “Property of the Islamic State.”
On July 20 the conservative Internet website Breitbart’s headline read: “After 2 000 Years, the Last Christian is Forced to Leave Mosul.”
“The last Christian reportedly left Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul at 12 (noon) on Saturday (July 19), ending over 6 000 years of Assyrian history in the city,” Breitbart reports. “Assyrians have lived in Mosul for over 6 000 years, converting to Christianity over 2 000 years ago. This all came to an end on Saturday, when the last Assyrian Christian left the city.”
“After early reports of ISIS starving out Christians and the current open purge of the religion in the city, it is currently believed that Mosul is completely devoid of Christians for the first time in the history of the religion,” the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael I Sako has told Reuters. “The situation is among the worst in the history of Christianity. The persecution in Mosul has never happened in Christian or Islamic history. Even Genghis Khan or Hulagu didn’t do this.”
ISIS is not only after Mosul Christians, it is working to overthrow the Shi’a-based Iraqi government and bring it under its version of Sharia rule (Islamic law). It is also striving to see Christianity stamped out in Iraq and the entire Arab world. In Iraq, Christians were clustered in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Arbil, Kirkuk, and the Nineveh Plains. At one time, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq — Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Evangelicals and Protestants — now there are fewer than 450 000 and that number is dwindling every day as they flee for their lives while being forcibly pushed out or killed by ISIS. The followers of Christ are the most persecuted religious group in the world.
However, Christians aren’t the only ones being targeted by black-clad ISIS extremists. The Shiites, Sunnis, Turkmen, Kurds, and Shabak people have also been killed. 30 000 Yazidi families have fled to Mount Sinjar where they are currently under siege by jihadists and are dying daily from the desert heat — 50 degrees Celsius or 122 degrees Fahrenheit — thirst and starvation. Children too weak to survive are dropping dead.
The world community has been slow to respond to the growing genocide in Iraq. Finally, late last week, the United States decided to start dropping humanitarian packages of food, water and medicines to the stranded Yazidis and started launching bombing drones against advancing militant ISIS soldiers approaching Erbil. Fleeing Iraqis are turning Erbil into a refugee center where many homeless Christians escaped hoping to find safety in the face of ISIS’ growing holocaust. ISIS militants are following them and there is nowhere else to go.
FRANCE 24 reports that the United Nations Security Council — charged with the maintenance of international peace and security — is stepping in as the ISIS crisis deepens.
“Following an emergency meeting held at France’s request,” the French news channel reports, “the United Nations Security Council called for urgent international action to support the Iraqi government in fighting ISIS fighters and delivering aid to displaced civilians.”
In addition, Christian clergymen not willing to leave and face their own possible martyrdom as ISIS’ violence grows. Anglican Canon Andrew White, dubbed the “Vicar of Baghdad,” refuses to leave.
The Huffington Post reports that Canon White refuses to leave Baghdad, despite the danger, as St George’s is Iraq’s last Anglican church. His decision to stand firm comes in the face of the wholesale destruction of Christianity in Mosul.
“One of things that really hurt was when one of the Christians came and said, ‘For the first time in 1 600 years, we had no church in Nineveh (Mosul),'” Canon White said.
The Anglican Canon is not the only Christian cleric to stay behind. Melkite Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart is digging in at Aleppo in Syria as the Islamic violence continues to spread.
“I come to you because my people suffer,” the aging archbishop explained. “The electricity is bad. Water is also very bad. … We have to do what we can to help.”
The Vatican also reports that Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the Apostolic Vicar (missionary bishop) of Tripoli, is also staying put in the face of increasing danger.
“The Christian community in Libya is now reduced to a minimum but I intend to stay here even if only one Christian remains,” the Roman Catholic bishop stated. “Prayer alone can solve difficult situations like the one in Libya today.”
Pope Francis, who pleaded at last month’s centenary anniversary of the Great War (WWI), that there be “no more war,” is sending his personal envoy, the former papal nuncio Fernando Cardinal Filoni, back into Iraq to support the persecuted Christians.
The Vatican announced that Cardinal Filoni is expected to deliver a personal message of solidarity and support from Pope Francis, as well as bring financial aid to those who are fleeing ISIS’ reign of terror.