A fire rages in the compound of Mosul's 1,800 year-old church. (Photo: Gatestone)

Christian minorities continue to suffer under Islamic persecution throughout the Middle East; that is, everywhere but Israel, the only safe haven in the region. 

Orthodox Christian worshippers in Israel take part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Orthodox Christian worshippers in Israel take part in the Holy Fire ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The purge of the ancient Christian communities throughout Iraq that started in June culminated in great intolerance in July, author Ibrahim Raymond, an expert on Islam and the Middle East, reports. Writing for Gatestone, Raymond offers a detailed account of the suffering that Christians endure under Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror.

Among other Islamic attacks, an 1,800-year-old Christian church in Iraq was reportedly torched by the Islamic State.

IS terrorists stormed and took over another ancient monastery in northern Iraq. St. Behnam monastery had existed since the fourth century and was one of Iraq’s best-known Christian landmarks. It was built by an Assyrian king as a penance for executing his children Behnam and Sarah for converting to Christianity.

The jihadis expelled the few monks who were there, saying, “You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately.” The monks pled to be allowed to save some of the monastery’s ancient relics, but the terrorists refused and ordered them to walk miles along a deserted road with nothing but their clothes.

Singled Out and Branded

The Islamic State issued a July 19 deadline for Mosul’s Christians: They must convert to Islam or face execution. IS members also singled out Christian homes by placing the Arabic letter for “N” – based on the Arabic word Nasara, or “Nazarenes,” the Koran’s pejorative for Christians – on the sides of their homes. The result, in the words of Patriarch Louis Sako, is that “for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

In response to the Islamic State’s latest atrocities against Iraq’s Christian minorities, the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, George Saliba, denounced not just the Islamic State, but also Muslims in general for their long “history of violence and oppression against Christians.”

“What is happening in Iraq is a strange thing, but it is normal for Muslims, because they have never treated Christians well, and they have always held an offensive and defaming stand against Christians,” Saliba said. “We used to live and coexist with Muslims, but then they revealed their canines [teeth]…. [They don’t] have the right to storm houses, steal and attack the honor of Christians. Most Muslims do this; the Ottomans killed us and after that the ruling nation-states understood the circumstances but always gave advantage to the Muslims. Islam has never changed.”

Islamic organizations responded by denouncing the Syriac bishop’s words as “hateful” and Islamophobic, demanding an apology.

Christians further suffered the Islamic hand of persecution during July in Afghanistan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Iran, Somalia and in the Central African Republic, where at least 27 Christians were slaughtered,

Israel – Only Safe Haven for Christians in ME

Israeli Christians

Father Gabriel Nadaf (L) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Moshe Milner/Flash90)

Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth and a citizen of the State of Israel, told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during September that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christian minorities are safe.

“Across the Middle East, in the last 10 years, 100,000 Christians have been murdered each year. That means that every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith,” Nadaf asserted.

“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security,” Nadaf declared. “It is Israel, the Jewish State. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe.”

To read the detailed account of the plight of the Christians in the Middle East during July, click HERE.

How You Can Help Israel, the Christians and Jerusalem

Jerusalem, under Israeli sovereignty, is one of the few cities in the Middle East where Christians can freely practice their religion freely.

Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem, its capital, has come under heavy attack in the past weeks. We need to stand together and show the world that Jerusalem is not some bargaining chip in border negotiations or a rally point for terrorists. It is a Holy City meant to provide a beacon of light to all nations, under the sovereignty of Israel. Help us ensure that Jerusalem stays unified. Click HERE to sign The Jerusalem Declaration.

Author: United with Israel Staff
(With files from Gatestone)