A new report due to be published shortly, shows that at least 100 places of worship have been vandalized or completely demolished in the territories of Mosul and Nineveh Province since June 2014, when IS/Darsh imposed their rule in that region. The report is being complied by the Commission on Crimes Committed by IS/Daesh, with information collected by the Kurdish Peshmerga troops who have been liberating the area from the Jihadists. Mariwan Naqshbandi, spokesman for the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan,
A Christian mother and son in Iraq have told their story of survival after two years of terror living under Daesh (ISIS). In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, widow Jandark Behnam Mansour Nassi, 55, and her son, 16-year-old Ismail, describe their experiences at the hands of Daesh extremists. Ismail, who the militants jailed, recounts seeing gun-wielding Jihadi children kill orange-clad Daesh prisoners and how he witnessed a woman bound hand and foot being stoned to death.
A priest who survived being kidnapped by IS/Daesh, has said that it is "inappropriate" to say that there is an ongoing genocide of Christians in the Middle East. While Christians have suffered terribly, so have Muslims, Father Jacques Murad a Syrian Catholic monk from the Deir Mar Musa Community, said. "The victims of violence in Syria are all Syrians, Muslims and Christians. And the poor are those who suffer most, those who have not had a chance to escape." he said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that claims that the atrocities of IS/Daesh have "nothing to do with Islam" are harming efforts to confront and combat extremism. In an address to the Catholic Institute of Paris on Thursday, during a ceremony awarding the Archbishop an honorary doctorate, the Most Rev Justin Welby said that religious leaders of all faiths must "stand up and take responsibility" for the actions of extremists who profess to follow their faith. "If we treat religiously-motivated violence solely as a security issue, or a political issue, then it will be incredibly difficult - probably
Today (Wednesday) Pope Francis offered Mass for Fr Jacques Hamel, who was murdered while celebrating Mass on 26 July 2016, in the Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvra in Rouen by two men claiming to belong so-called Islamic State. Archbishop Dominque Lebrun of Rouen, along with 80 other pilgrims from his diocese, were in the congregation. Reflecting on the many martyrs that are part of the history of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said: "this is a story that repeats itself in the Church, and today, he said, there are more Christian
'War has sown the seeds of religious violence for a generation. The future looks bleak for Christians in Iraq, as the Shia-Sunni sectarian conflict spreads across the Middle East.' The Iraq war has been a tragedy for Christians in Iraq and the Middle East, leading to a massive exodus of historic communities from the lands of the Bible Release International said in a statement this morning. Iraq once boasted one of the most established Christian minorities in the region, dating back to the birth of the faith. But Christians have left in their droves since the
A Coptic priest, Father Rafael Moussa, was killed in Al Arish in the north of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, in an attack claimed by the local branch of the Islamic State. The murder took place on Thursday, June 30, on the third anniversary of the demonstrations against the then President Mohamed Morsi, which resulted in his deposition on July 3 and the seizure of power of the current Head of the State, the then Minister of Defense, Abdel Fatah to Sisi.
On the eve of fresh peace negotiations in Geneva, the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church has expressed fears that opposition groups taking part include extremists - and have virtually no backing among the people. Talking to Aid to the Church in Need from Al Qaryatayn, which was liberated from Daesh (ISIS) on 3rd April, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II said that some of the Syrian opposition at Geneva III lacked popular support in the country. The Patriarch added: "Of course, I hope that the talks will be successful.
Christians will not be returning to Al Qaryatayn, according to Church sources, despite the Syrian army's success in driving Daesh (IS) from the town. Father Jihad Yousef, of the Syriac-Catholic Order of Mar Musa, told Aid to the Church in Need: "The residents who have fled - both Christians and Muslims - are afraid. They fear that IS may come back again." Although Daesh was driven out of Al Qaryatayn in central Syria early last week, Fr Yousef said it was unlikely life would return to normal soon.
In July 2014, when Mosul was captured by the terror group Daesh (ISIS), Christians living in the area were called either to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax or to leave the city. Otherwise they were risking their lives. Consequently thousands of Christians fled their homes and villages, relinquishing their communities and leaving behind their centuries old communities and Christian heritage... Saher Kawas from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem spoke to Bishop Yohanno Petros Mouche, Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan about his experience
David Alton writes: It is especially important that we mark the anniversary of the brutal murder of the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya a year ago, not only to keep them in our memory, but to remember and advocate for all those who continue to face persecution in the Middle East. What is happening to Christians and minorities in the region is nothing short of Genocide and we must not stand by and watch as whole communities are eradicated. These 21 Coptic Christians who lost their lives are testimony to the strength of Faith and courage of many Christians around
Cardinal Vincent Nichols will address the 'very sobering narrative' of online recruitment by terrorist organisations and the important role that schools play in the formation of young people, when he addresses the CATSC/CES Secondary Leaders' Conference this afternoon. (Thursday, 28 January). "We are talking about the age of children in your schools, in your care." Recalling conversations with people working to combat this, the Cardinal will describe those targeted as "clean skins" on whom 'no one has made a lasting impression...as yet unformed by substantive values."
On the night between Monday 18 and Tuesday, January 19, air strikes carried out by the international American-led coalition hit the Syriac Orthodox Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in the market area of Mosul. The city was conquered in June 2014 by the so-called Islamic State. The ankawa.com website quotes local sources who say that the church had been occupied by IS. They say the was devastated by the bombing it suffered. Since IS took over Mosul they have occupied or destroyed over 40 Christian buildings in Mosul, including churches,
Tensions between Kurds and Christians have increased in the Syrian region of northeastern Jiazira, and the cities of Qamishli and Hassaké, where large areas of land are in the hands of IS, local church leaders report. On 20 December 20 two restaurants in Qamishli belonging to Christian owners were attacked. Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, head of the Syrian Catholic Archdiocese of Hassaké-Nisibis said: "13 Christians and six Muslims died. No one knows who is behind this attack, but it is believed that it was the Kurds."
An 11-year-old Iraqi refugee whose song and video message of forgiveness for Islamic State (IS) went viral worldwide has given startling advice on how world leaders should respond to a Middle East in crisis: "Walk with love and mercy in your hearts." A year ago, Christian satellite television channel SAT-7 KIDS first showed an interview with Myriam by their Egyptian reporter Essam Nagy, in a Christmas special from Northern Iraq. The film was seen by over 2.5 million people around the world.
Concerns are growing for the safety of a Franciscan priest in Syria who has been missing since 23rd December. Fr Dhiya Azziz, parish priest of Yacoubieh is believed to have been abducted after he left Lattakia in a taxi heading for Yacoubieh, via Hama. The 41-year old priest was on his way back to his parish for Christmas with his faithful, after a brief trip to Turkey to visit his family, that have taken refuge there since the arrival of IS rebels in Karakosh, in Iraq, his homeland.
The war in Syria has almost completed its fifth year. The cost in terms of human life, the environment and infrastructure is immense - more than 250.000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced. The cycle of extreme violence on the whole Syrian population is unacceptable and should come to an end as soon as possible. A new round of international talks aimed at resolving the Syria crisis took place on 14 November 2015 in Vienna, immediately after the awful and gruesome attacks in Paris and Beirut.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to raise human rights concerns, including long-term issues regarding freedom of religion or belief, with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during his official visit to the UK this week. President Sisi's visit comes at a time when terrorism has been on the increase across Egypt. While most acts of terror are concentrated on the Sinai region where the jihadi group and Daesh (Islamic State) affiliate Anṣār Bayt al-Maqdis is based, regular bomb explosions targeting government, judicial and security buildings,
A Syrian priest who was kidnapped by IS earlier this year, and managed to escape, has spoken of his spoken of his time in captivity. Fr Jacques Murad, Prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian said: "Even while being deported, with my hands tied behind my back, I surprisingly found myself repeating again and again: I am going towards freedom. My captivity was like being born again". Fr Jacques' ordeal began on 21 May, when he and a co-worker were abducted by a group of armed men from the monastery in the outskirts of Qaryatayn.
Father Jacques Mourad has told how he escaped Daesh (ISIS) in Syria with the help of a friend whose family had been helped by the priest's programme of aid to the poor and disadvantaged. Speaking out after nearly six months in the hands of the Islamist terror group, Fr Mourad said that with the help of the friend he had escaped Daesh-held Qaratayn on the back of a motorbike disguised as an Islamist fighter. The friend, who had links with Daesh, had told Fr Mourad he was impressed by the priest's humanitarian relief work in Qaratayn - supplying food, shelter and medicine - funded
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that three Christians who were part of a group of 200 held captive by Daesh (Islamic State) since February have been executed. The terrorist group released a video on 8 October showing Dr Abdel-Maseeh Aniyah, Ashur Rustam Abraham and Bassam Issa Michael in orange jumpsuits. The men were ordered to confirm their names before being shot dead. Daesh have threatened to execute the remaining hostages if their ransoms were not paid.
Syrian Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo says he was disturbed to hear US Senator John McCain protesting that the Russians are not bombing the positions of the Islamic State, "but rather the anti-Assad rebels trained by the CIA." "I find these words are disturbing," the Archbishop said. "They represent a blatant admission that behind the war against Assad there is also the CIA". "Western propaganda keeps talking about moderate rebels, who do not exist". According to Syrian Catholic Archbishop, "there is something very disturbing about all this.
In a strongly-worded statement addressed to the Iraqi government, the leader of the Chaldean Church, Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako called on his country's leaders to do their utmost to defeat "extremist groups that wear religious habits [whose] use of violence to extend their control are a danger to all." The thinly veiled reference to Daesh (ISIS) came in a letter dated Thursday 6 August 2015, exactly one year after more than 120,000 Christians fled the Nineveh Plane after Daesh's capture of Qaraqosh, the last Christian majority town in Iraq.
Help from the West for so-called moderate opposition groups in Syria is ending up in the hands of Daesh (ISIS) and other extremists, according to a Catholic Patriarch from Damascus, who says the crisis in the country is deepening. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III, head of the largest Catholic community in Syria, said money and weapons given to moderate groups were being repeatedly used by ISIS in the struggle against President Bashar al-Assad.
The Chaldean Church of St Joseph in Mosul has been turned into a mosque by IS/ Daish. The Chaldean church dedicated to St Ephrem has also been converted. The jihadists have been established in the city since last June. turning it into the capital of their self-declared Islamic Caliphate. Some pictures of the place of worship show that the dome has been painted black, and the church - situated in the district of Maidan, in the historic city - has been stripped of all crosses and Christian symbols and images. The mosque seems to have been named after Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi,
Another priest has been kidnapped in Syria. Local Christians fear Islamic extremists have seized him. Father Jacques Mourad was travelling in Qaryatayn with a co-worker on Thursday, when two motorcycles drew up alongside their car. The kidnappers seized the vehicle and abducted the priest. Qaryatayn is a small town around 65 miles (100 km) southwest of Palmyra, which was seized by IS/Daish on Wednesday, 20th May. For the past 12 years Fr Mourad had been ministering to Qaryatayn's Syriac Catholic community.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols has condemned the murder of more than 300 Yazidi captives by IS/ Daish on Friday. In a statement the Yazidi Progress Party said the Yazidis were killed in the Tal Afar district near Mosul. No further details have been given. Iraqi Vice-President Osama al-Nujaifi described the reported deaths as "horrific and barbaric". Cardinal Nichols said yesterday: "I am deeply shocked by the brutal murder of these peace-loving people.
The Yazidis I met in our recent visit to Erbil impressed me with their quiet dignity.
The Iraqi government has announced the creation of a joint Iraqi-Kurdish task force to start military operations aimed at freeing Mosul and Nineveh province, currently under the control of IS/Daish. The plan was agreed during a summit meeting in Erbil attended by Itaqi and Kurdish government ministers. Iraqi media also reported that the US ambassador in Iraq, Stuart E Jones also took part. Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi pledged that Iraq will commit its army in the liberation of the province of Nineveh,
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, has issued the following statement today, after the murder of Ethiopian Christians in Libya... The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.
IS/Daish militants in Libya yesterday released a 29 minute video which appears to show groups of about 30 captive Ethiopian Christians, being shot or beheaded. The film begins with images of churches, Christian graves and icons being destroyed. Then a masked man brandishing a gun delivers a long speech saying Christians must convert or pay a special tax prescribed by the Q'uran. An Ethiopian government spokesman said they were still trying to verify the authenticity of the film.
The mother of the first Western hostage killed by Islamic State, Catholic journalist James Foley, reflects on hope, grief, and a faith that conquers hatred and death, in an on-line interview to be released on Good Friday. In August 2014, freelance journalist James Foley became the first Western hostage to be publicly beheaded by 'Jihadi John'. The atrocity ended nearly two years of captivity at the hands of Islamic State in Syria. In an in-depth interview to mark the first Good Friday since Jim's killing, his mother Diane explains how she has been able to forgive her son's unrepentant killer.
Four Assyrian Christians, including a six year-old girl, who were among a group of at least 220 Christians abducted by Daesh (Islamic State) from their villages in north east Syria on 24 February, were released on 3 March. Their release follows that of 19 other Christians last week following a ruling by a shari'a court. Over 200 Christians are still in captivity. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Daesh religious court ruled on 28 February for the release the 19 hostages in exchange for a sum of money
The extremist group Islamic State has now released some of the Christian hostages it seized in north-east Syria last week. According to London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, today, 19 captives have been released – 18 were from the village of Tel Goran, one of the Assyrian Christian villages in Hassake governorate captured on 23 February, The other captive is not thought to have been seized during these attacks. All 19 were reported to have arrived safely at St Mary’s Church in the town of Hassake.
Extremist terror group Islamic State has attacked Christian villages in north-east Syria. The assault took place yesterday (Monday, 23rd February) targeting Assyrian villages in the Khabour region of Syria’s Hassake governorate. Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana spoke to a contact in Hassake city where around 400 families have fled following the advance of IS. “Bishop Mar Aprem Athniel… told me the church and community hall are overloaded with the people and they are now [sending] them to the families in Hassake city.”
The Coptic Orthodox Church has announced that the murder of the 21 Egyptian Christians killed by the so-called Islamic State in Libya will be commemorated in its Church calendar. Pope Tawadros II announced that the names of the martyrs will be inserted into the Coptic Synaxarium, the Oriental Church’s equivalent to the Roman Martyrology. This procedure is also equivalent to canonization in the Latin Church. According to terrasanta.net news service, the martyrdom of the 21 Christians will be commemorated on
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom has issued the following statement last night. It is with deep feelings of sorrow and pain that we received confirmation earlier this evening of the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya at the hands of Daesh (IS). While every life is sacred and every death tragic, the particular brutality demonstrated in this instance and others like it shows not only a disregard for life but a gross misunderstanding of its sanctity and equal value in every person.
Religious liberty organisation Release international has condemned the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts as the clearest indication yet of the policy of brutal religious cleansing of Christians by Islamic State militants. A video posted by Libya jihadists loyal to Islamic State shows the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians on a beach. The video states the Egyptian labourers were targeted because they were Christians. The title of the video is ‘A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.’ And a caption describes the victims as ‘people of the cross,
An archbishop from Kurdish northern Iraq grappling with the influx of more than 120,000 Christians fleeing ISIS, is to come to London to plead their cause. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil is due to give an address in the Houses of Parliament on Monday, 9 February amid increasing concerns about the future of Christians who escaped from Mosul and Nineveh with no more than the clothes they were wearing. At the House of Lords event sponsored by human rights campaigner Lord David Alton of Liverpool,
A Bishop whose diocese in north-east Nigeria has suffered most at the hands of Boko Haram, wants the West to send in military forces to defeat the militants. Describing how a strategically superior Boko Haram was now recruiting from countries across north Africa, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme of Maiduguri said that Western military intervention was the only viable option in the fight against the militants, now allied to Islamic State. The bishop said Nigeria’s own military was weakened by incompetence, corruption and Boko Haram infiltration within its ranks.
The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, has issued a message to the Catholic community of the city, in the wake of deadly terror attacks on the satirical journal, Charlie Hebdo, earlier in the week. In a letter dated Saturday,10 January in the online pages of the Catholic daily La Croix, Cardinal Vingt-Trois says that the incident is, “a call to rediscover the fundamental values of the republic,” including freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. “A cartoon, however distasteful, cannot be put on the same level as murder,” he writes.
Yesterday, jihadi militants of the Islamic State, who control the city of Mosul, used explosives to severely damage the convent of the Chaldean Sisters of the Sacred Heart - one of 45 Christian institutions they have captured since June. Previously they were living in the building. Chaldean sources report that the explosion took place in two phases. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but then the jihadists used more powerful explosives, causing massive damage to the convent, with the intent to eliminate the cross that stands on the place of worship.
We need to do something! With the barbaric Islamic State now controlling large portions of Iraq and Syria, and inflicting rape, torture and even beheading on those who do not conform to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, it is imperative that they must be stopped. So yes, we need to do something. But that “something” is not more violence and war. Answering violence and war, with more violence and war, is always part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Antoine Audo has appealed for an international peace force to hold back the onslaught of the Islamic State militants advancing in Syria and Iraq. In an interview with the Vatican Radio Italian Service, Bishop Audo said: “We are a bit confused; no one knows exactly what is happening. As Christians, as Syrians, we hope to have a solution of reconciliation, of peace, with the help of the United Nations. An international peace force is needed. The situation in Aleppo is rather difficult, with problems of electricity, water; there is no security.
The President of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga SDB has written a letter to Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako and to the President of Caritas Iraq, Bishop Shlemon Warduni to express his concern for the safety of their communities and for the wellbeing of “all the people of Iraq.” Alarmed at the “atrocities” being committed by Islamic State militants against minority Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, Shabaks, Madaeans, and others, Cardinal Maradiaga observed with dismay “the massive displacement of 1.2 million people,
Iraq’s most senior Christian leader has declared that the US and the EU have a moral obligation to flush out jihadist forces from the Nineveh plains and enable communities to return to their ancestral homes. In a statement on Wednesday, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad calls on the US, European countries and Arab nations to join forces and reclaim ancient communities in Nineveh from Islamist fighters. He said outside intervention was necessary because the Iraq government in Baghdad
Christian Peacemakers Teams in Iraqi Kurdistan write: With all our hearts we wish that the Yazidi (Ezidi in Kurdish) people would have become known to the world through different circumstances. Not as the ten thousand families or more whose children kept dying in the scorching heat of the Shangal mountains of thirst and hunger while surrounded by armed men who sought their death. Not as the hundreds of people whom the Islamic State (IS) fighters buried alive. Not as the women whom the IS raped and kidnapped to sell into slavery.
Christians are suffering and dying in Iraq. The terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) is killing them, displacing them and seizing their properties. Now Iraq’s ancient Yazidi community is experiencing similar abuses. This is a catastrophe for the people of Iraq and the region and if left unchecked it could also have profound implications for freedom and democracy across the globe. Religious freedom is a fundamental right that has been described as a ‘litmus test’ for the depth of democracy. That’s why attacks on this right cannot be ignored.
Up to a quarter of Iraq's Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority's biggest town in the country - the BBC reports today. The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces. Meanwhile, the UN says some of the 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority trapped by IS on Mount Sinjar have been rescued. IS controls parts of Iraq and Syria and says it has created an Islamic state. Nineveh, located 400km north-west of Baghdad, is home to a large number of religious minorities.