Convert, Pay or Die: Iraq Christians Flee Islamists
Jihadists from the Islamic State have forced Christians to flee Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.
The terrorists issued Christians an ultimatum: they can convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or face death.
According to MidEast Christian News, the IS rulers ordered hospitals to dismiss Christian doctors and female employees. The report says extremists also marked the houses of Christians as "Property of the Islamic State."
By the time the deadline imposed by the Islamic State expired, most Christians were gone. Mosul, where Christianity has existed for nearly 2,000 years, was now virtually "free of Christians."
As Christian families drove out of the city some reported being stopped at IS check points and robbed of gold earrings, cell phones, and other valuables.
With their few remaining possessions, most believers fled to the nearby self-ruled Kurdish region or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.
Residents in Mosul say militants are occupying churches and seizing the homes of Christians who have fled the city.
Mosul's Christian community goes back nearly 2,000 years.
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, some 100,000 Christians lived there. Today, it's believed there are fewer than 200.
Pope Francis has expressed concern for Christians forced to flee Mosul.
The pontiff in his traditional Angelus blessing on Sunday offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who "are persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without out the possibility of taking anything" with them.
Francis also called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine, emphasizing "violence is not overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace."