LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Although Christians have lived in northern Iraq and Syria for nearly two-thousand years, and at least six hundred years before Islam, today they face extinction across the region.
"Our people are disappearing," Canon Andrew White, head of the Anglican Church in Iraq "It looks as though the end could be very near," he told the BBC.
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A week ago, Christians were warned to either leave the city of Mosul and other areas under Islamic State control, or they would have to pay a tax or be put to death. Today, nobody has heard from those Christians and nobody knows what is happening to them.
Are they being quietly "put to the sword" as this militant strain of Islam asks they be?
The Human Rights Watch reported on July 14 that homes in Mosul were painted with red letters to indicate Christian homes. Other homes of Shiite Muslims were also adorned.
Christians who have escaped reported being deprived of all their belongings except their clothes. Jewelry, money, automobiles, even food and water were confiscated on the edge of town as Christians were forced to pass through Islamic State checkpoints.
However, we know a number of Christians remained, for many reasons. Some were too destitute to travel or had weak and infirm family who could not make the desert trek to safety.
Those that left were warned "don't even dream of returning."
For those that remain, they can almost certainly expect harsher treatment than that meted out to fellow Muslims at the hands of ISIS terrorists.
Estimates hold that 200,000 Christians live in the region, however only a fraction of these have been accounted for. Where are all the missing Christians? Are they already being put to the sword? It's very possible.
Islam is very clear on these issues, the deal is very simple. For those who live under the rule of a fundamentalist Islamic state, the options are laid bare. One can flee, convert, pay a fine, or be put to death. There will be no coexistence. And although Christians, Muslims and Jews have lived together in this region of the world for centuries, the strain of Islam that dominates them is now so extreme that Islam represents an existential threat to Christians and Jews.
Decades ago, the world watched as the Jews, and many others, including a large number of Catholics, were rounded up, persecuted by Nazis. Nobody outside of the European continent believed these people were being systematically killed on an industrial scale.
Yet they were. We've seen the haunting images and video. Smiling Nazi officers standing beside their victims in the moments before they shot or gassed them. Today, Islamic State terrorists are posing with their victims, making videos, and even tweeting crude jokes about their carnage.
They glorify and revel in their killing and believe with all sincerity that they are doing the work of Allah.
The world once solemnly promised to never allow another holocaust to happen again. Yet, we have witnessed episodes of ethnic cleansing and genocide repeatedly throughout history. Time and again, the world has stood silent as whole populations and tribes were exterminated, relocated, and forced into destitution.
The only exception seems to be when the United States intervened in the Balkans to rescue ethnic Muslims from extermination at the hands of Christian fighters in Bosnia.
Today, nobody is running toward the Christians to help them. These people are on their own and they have nothing. Over 400 families have checked into refugee camps in Kurdish controlled districts in northern Iraq. Hundreds more wander in the desert and the diaspora continues.
Warning: Graphic photo, viewers discretion adviced!
Billions of people will stand idly by, and do nothing in the face of evil, but Your Catholic Voice Foundation isn't going to accept this. Yes, we will pray for peace, and we will condemn this evil. However, we will also open our purses and wallets and make available emergency funds that these people will need.
If you act today, your gift will be sent to those in need in this region, used to provide basic supplies. Food, shelter, medicine. Perhaps a toy for a child who has lost every gift they were ever given by doting parents.
Today, you can help us make a difference, to soften the blow for those who have been struck by these terrorists and to encourage those who must flee, but cannot, to find a way or make away before ISIS terrorists carry out their threats of genocide.
In other words, this is your chance to stop genocide in its tracks. No matter what you accomplish today, nothing could be so important as standing against this evil. Please help now.