The Christian Church in Iraq is facing an increasingly dangerous situation. Two weeks ago, the Islamic jihadist group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Shams) took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. ISIS has continuously used force and aggression in its attempts to establish an Islamic state in Iraq. Many Christians are fleeing the area to seek refuge in more northern regions under Kurdish control.

The Sunni extremist group affiliated with Al Qaeda has established strict regulations both against Christians and Muslims with harsh punishments for those who fail to cooperate. Christians are now required to pay taxes simply in exchange for their safety, and are not allowed to carry arms, display crosses outside of church, or pray in public.

Speaking to International Christian Concern, one Iraqi pastor reports that "One of their visions is to wipe out Christians completely from Mosul, either to drive them out or to kill them. If Christians would stay they must either pay ransom or declare their faith in Islam."

The ISIS attack on Mosul included burning, looting, and occupation of some Christian churches. While much of the violence demonstrated thus far has been towards rival Islamic groups, Christians fear they may be next. Housing prices in Northern Iraq have skyrocketed up 50% as a result of the increased demand by Christians for safe places to live.

According to International Christian Concern, there were nearly 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq just over a decade ago. That number has dwindled down to only a few hundred thousand. Those who have chosen to remain are lead by the strength of their faith but are also concerned that the rest of the world has failed to notice their struggle. Speaking about the Christian plight in Iraq, Patriach Louis Sako says, "We feel forgotten and isolated. We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?"

To find out more about ways you can help Christians in Iraq, visit the ICC’s Iraqi Crisis Response page here.

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