ISIS Must Be Viewed As Religious Or It ‘Will Eliminate’ Ancient Christians, Says Author
The Islamic State targets adherents of any religion outside its radical version of Sunni Islam, and the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East and North Africa are no exception.
With territory spanning Iraq and Syria, in addition to affiliates from Nigeria to Afghanistan, the Islamic State has clearly stated its aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate and imposing Sharia law.
In Iraq, militants notoriously targeted Christians in Mosul, giving residents three options. Either they could pay a tax, flee or convert to Islam. Christian homes and businesses were marked with the first letter of an Arabic-language, derogatory term for Christians. But the letter soon became a symbol of solidarity with persecuted Christians online.
Syrian Christians are caught amid battles between the Bashar al-Assad regime, rebel groups and jihadi organizations like Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. In Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, hundreds of Syrian Christians were kidnapped by Islamic State militants earlier this year. (RELATED: ISIS Makes Big Move On Christian Villages)
“Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and Your Own Back Yard,” a newly-released book by Johnnie Moore, documents the suffering of the region’s Christians and calls the world to step up its awareness and support.
“It’s not at all unrealistic to believe that if something doesn’t happen in Iraq and Syria to stop this rampant terrorism… these ancient Christian communities can be eradicated,” Moore told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “ISIS will eliminate Christians if they have the opportunity to.”
The first step to defeating Islamic State militancy is to understand the conflict on religious terms, according to Moore. “It’s very ineffective to not be thinking of this conflict in religious terms,” said Moore. “The only way you’ll be able to solve it is to face it through ISIS’ eyes, not through a Western interpretation of it.”
An Iraqi nun, who intended to speak about persecution by the Islamic State, was denied entry by the U.S. Department of State. “If our government was clued in, they would be inviting her,” said Moore. By bringing Middle East religious leaders to the table, it would assist in finding a solution, he added.
“The way the U.S. government is handling the region is doing too little too late and refusing to look at the conflict through a religious lens,” said Moore. “We don’t understand the conflict, so we’ll be less effective in resolving the conflict.”
In the North African state of Libya, rival governments and militias are battling for control of oil resources and power while Islamic State-affiliated jihadis exploit the unstable conditions. “I’m more concerned about Libya presently than I am about Iraq or Syria,” said Moore. “Because I believe Libya can become every bit the failed state that Somalia has.”
Unlike Iraqi Christians in Mosul, it appears the Islamic State gives Libya’s immigrant Christians very few options other than death. The terror group released videos of jihadis beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians and either shooting or beheading Ethiopian Christians in recent months. (RELATED: Latest ISIS Atrocity Makes Clear Their Intent For All Christians)
“If your heart doesn’t compel you to help these people, then at least your self-interest ought to,” said Moore, referring to the threat of Islamic State sympathizers in the U.S.
Despite differing creeds or traditions between Middle East and American Christians, Moore says he wrote the book assuming anyone who self-identifies as a Christian could face the same threat. “People are more willing to throw down what divides them in order to stand together,” said Moore.
The Islamic State is not the only terror organization targeting Christians. Last month, Christian university students in Kenya were attacked by militants aligned with al-Qaida. Jihadis from the Somali-based terror group, Al Shabab, stormed dormitories in the early morning hours, separated Christians from Muslims and killed 147. (RELATED: Updated: 147 Killed Dead In Al-Shabab Attack On Christians)
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