A recent report from Christian Freedom International (CFI) has found that the persecution of Christians by ISIS was even more widespread and horrific than previously thought. In Iraq, a Christian is killed every five minutes by ISIS and other terror groups. Christian communities in the ISIS war zone that are hundreds of years old have been wiped out, and churches have been desecrated and turned into torture chambers, where Christians are forced to convert to Islam, or be slaughtered.
CFI President Jim Jacobson was quoted by the UK Express saying “Islamic State Militants in Iraq are using Christian churches as torture chambers where they force Christians to either convert to Islam or die, Islamic State militants are also stripping the former places of Christian worship of ancient relics which in turn are smuggled to Western collectors to help fund their terrorist activities.”
One instance referenced in the report includes a video of the destruction of a 1,600 year-old monastery in Syria. ISIS also abducted 230 Christians in the area and desecrated the bones of Saint Elian, who the monastery was dedicated to.
In August, there were reports that ISIS abducted a Christian priest in Syria and demanded $120,000 in ransom. After his family raised and delivered the money, they received his body back in a box, cut to pieces.
Other Christian priests have been kidnapped as well, and have been tortured and sometimes murdered. Catholic Father Douglas Bazi, survivor of an abduction in 2006, told a BBC documentary crew, “We are Christian, so we are used to having our luggage always prepared. We always have to run away, escape from place to place.”
ISIS has the stated goal of eliminating Christianity from the Middle East in order to establish Islam as the official religion. Due to their efforts, an estimated 40 percent of the Christian population of Syria has either been killed or driven out. In captive cities like Mosul, the Christian population essentially has been wiped out.
The ISIS problem is much worse than many realize. Reports like the one released by CFI are important not only to bring attention to the situation in the Middle East, but to help people realize it is not just a “Muslim problem,” but is everyone’s problem.