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article imageOp-Ed: Christians are under siege in the Middle East

By Ben Morris     Jul 19, 2014 in World
Mosul - As the world turns their attention to the continued tragedy of more war and death in Gaza, Christians in the Middle East are fleeing like Palestinians from Israeli bombs.
In a story posted in Al Jazeera, Christian residents of Mosul, Iraq have fled their homes after ISIS threatened to kill them if they did not pay a tax, or convert to Islam.
One of those Christians, Abu Rayan, told AFP news agency some families had their money and valuable possessions stolen by ISIS at checkpoints controlled by the insurgents, while others gave their house keys to their neighbors in hopes they could one day return.
ISIS has taken over large territories inside Iraq where they have installed sharia law in the cities they control. Men must be bearded, women must be veiled, any deviation means your death may be coming. Sharia law like the one ISIS has forced upon the Iraqi's they haven't killed, stipulates Christians pay a protection tax. Taxing Christians confirms they are treated like second class citizens, who do not deserve the right to practice their faith.
What ISIS is doing to Christians in Iraq is beyond evil. They have kidnapped nuns, orphaned Christian children, along with attacking churches, shooting at anyone who tried to escape. The caliphate they want to create has no room for Christianity, what they see, and cause in Syria is the template they use to squash a religion they have no love for.
Before the civil war, nearly two million Christians lived in Syria. As the battle wages on, Christians have been beheaded in front of cheering crowds, who devalue the life millions because they don't follow the same religious beliefs. As noted in a New York Times op-ed, Christians in the Middle East aligned themselves with secular governments in order to have religious freedom. The city of Homs, Syria saw a mass exodus of Christians who left everything they owned behind.
Houses of worship are being destroyed by terrorist groups rampaging through the Middle East, and the number of Christians within countries in the Middle East are dwindling. During Saddam Hussein's reign, over a million Christians lived in Iraq, now the number sits at around 200,000. Anti government forces within the region have punished Christians with diabolical force, ending hundreds of lives, and creating even more refugees.
One archdeacon showed how desperate the situation in Iraq is for Christians, as he was interviewed by Colin Freeman for The Telegraph. Inside a church, surrounded by concrete walls, and guarded by security, and surveillance cameras, Archdeacon Temathius Esha revealed the town outside of Baghdad with a formally strong Christian population has been decimated with fear, "Doura was once one of the biggest Christian communities in Iraq, with 30,000 families-Now there are only 2,000 left."
Whenever Christians are the minority in countries controlled by fundamental Muslim's they live a life of constant fear. Churches are under attack, and the faithful are caught in the cross hairs. The Middle East has gotten more violent in recent years, political upheaval has created a lack of peace and security in the region that continues to increase.
Those who are under threat the most are Christians. They want to practice their religion in peace and now they are on the run, with bullets and bombs at their backs. While Gaza explodes once again, the Christian refugees of the Middle East are being ignored. When priests are being executed, and parishioners are being ripped from their land, freedom of religion becomes obsolete.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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