ISIS steals crucifixes, money from fleeing Christians

1406065699539.cachedThe last Christians have left one of their holiest cities, running from ISIS demands to become Muslim or be slain—but as a final indignity, their money and even crucifixes were stolen.
After being issued an ultimatum from ISIS in Mosul, some of the city’s last Christian families have fled, only to be robbed of their last possessions at ISIS checkpoints. Friday at noon was the deadline for Christian families to meet ISIS’s demands: Convert to Islam, pay an anachronistic Islamic tax for non-Muslims known as jizya, leave Mosul, or be killed. But the day before the final exodus, Christians were informed jizya was no longer an option. The order came to convert, leave, or die.

Gathered along an unlit street on the edge of Hamdaniyah, a majority Christian town on the outskirts of Mosul, large, well-dressed families of refugees from Mosul shared their stories in their only remaining set of clothes, trying to make sense of what had happened. According to the Iraq-based Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, whose field office was receiving internal refugees in Hamdaniyah, 1,500 Christian families have fled Mosul in the last four days. They were the last of the last.

Those families leaving from the checkpoints on the eastern side of the city were harassed and robbed of their possessions but ultimately allowed to leave Mosul with only the clothes on their backs and possibly cab fare. All families who fled on the last morning reported having money, belongings, jewelry, and even documents stolen from them. Women had crucifixes torn from their necks.

Those who were received by aid organizations in neighboring Hamdaniyah, Bartella, and elsewhere were despondent and in a state of shock when they arrived at shelters for refugees. Most had been assured by ISIS fighters during the first week after the takeover that their communities would be protected, as ISIS’s animosity initially was directed toward the city’s Shia. But all that changed in the past week.

As they left Mosul, Christian families were cursed and abused by ISIS fighters at the checkpoints on the outskirts of the city for abandoning their homes and not converting to Islam. According to the fleeing families, it was apparent that fighters were locals from their accents and covered faces, but the Christians suspected many of being the freed prisoners who have joined ISIS’s ranks last month. Read More HERE