In case you haven’t read or heard the news, the city where Jonah preached God to the heathens and where Christ has been worshipped for centuries has seen the last of its Christians flee rather than take their chances with the evil forces of the jihad:
By 1 p.m. on Friday almost every Christian in Mosul had heard the Sunni militants’ message — they had until noon Saturday to leave the city…A YouTube video shows ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] taking sledgehammers to the tomb of Jonah, something that was also confirmed by Mr. Hikmat. The militants also removed the cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archdiocese in Mosul, and put up the black ISIS flag in its place. They also destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, according to Ghazwan Ilyas, the head of the Chaldean Culture Society in Mosul, who spoke by telephone on Thursday from Mosul but seemed to have left on Friday.
“They did not destroy the churches, but they killed us when they removed the cross, this is death for us,” he said.
Of course, the jihadis were “generous” enough to suggest that Christians could stay in Mosul (modern day Nineveh) as long as they “accept Islam” or “pay extra taxes to Islamic Sharia courts”. What if you are a Christian and you refuse to give in to such unjust demands? Well, ISIS has an answer ready for you: “death by the sword.”
What can be done to help our brothers and sisters in Christ swept up by the terrible forces of jihad in Iraq? I’m not sure if we can do anything at this point, except perhaps provide more support and encouragement to the Kurds – they seem to be the one group in Iraq building a stable and safe semi-independent state where Christians are mostly welcome and the West is generally appreciated.
I know there are plenty of folks on the traditional right who blame all the current troubles of Christians today on neo-cons and the original invasion of Iraq – as someone who supported the invasion and removal of Saddam Hussein from power I should note that there is more than a little truth to this complaint. Had we never invaded, while it is impossible to predict what would have happened over the past 10 plus years, I have no doubt that both Iraq and Syria’s Christians would be better off than they are today.
I’ll never forget talking to my family doctor, who is Assyrian (we have quite a few in the Chicago region), about Bashar Assad. At the time the Syrian rebellion was just starting and I innocently asked him if he was hopeful that Assad would be removed from power. “Hopeful”?! he asked me incredulously – “I think that as bad as Assad is, he is the only one who will protect my people from the jihadis” (I’m paraphrasing his quote, but you get the idea). I knew then that as much as I hate Iran and their proxies (Assad is in power now thanks to the support he receives from the mullahs, many of whom think the Alawites are heretics – go figure), I had to rethink my hawkish Middle-East instincts. However, one thing is still true -- l think it is foolish to throw around words like “Empire” to refer to our mission in Iraq and to claim that our leaders justified the Iraqi invasion via “untruths” (you mean you think the President and his national security team lied? Really?) I do think we should have been more concerned about Islamism and jihad back in 2003 and therefore should be willing to support dictators like Sisi in Egypt who will throw Muslim Brotherhood radicals in jail or execute them for their crimes. In other words, when it comes to foreign policy in the Middle East, we are back to dictatorships and double-standards.