The Islamic State targets adherents of any religion outside its radical version of Sunni Islam, and the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East and North Africa are no exception.
With territory spanning Iraq and Syria, in addition to affiliates from Nigeria to Afghanistan, the Islamic State has clearly stated its aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate and imposing Sharia law.
In Iraq, militants notoriously targeted Christians in Mosul, giving residents three options. Either they could pay a tax, flee or convert to Islam. Christian homes and businesses were marked with the first letter of an Arabic-language, derogatory term for Christians. But the letter soon became a symbol of solidarity with persecuted Christians online.
Syrian Christians are caught amid battles between the Bashar al-Assad regime, rebel groups and jihadi organizations like Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. In Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, hundreds of Syrian Christians were kidnapped by Islamic State militants earlier this year.
“Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and Your Own Back Yard,” a newly-released book by Johnnie Moore, documents the suffering of the region’s Christians and calls the world to step up its awareness and support.
“It’s not at all unrealistic to believe that if something doesn’t happen in Iraq and Syria to stop this rampant terrorism… these ancient Christian communities can be eradicated,” Moore told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “ISIS will eliminate Christians if they have the opportunity to.”
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