US Outraged over Forced Exodus of Iraqi Christians
The United States is condemning the Islamic radicals who forced thousands of Christians to flee for their lives from Iraq's second-largest city.
Last week the terrorist group who call themselves the Islamic State used loudspeakers to threaten the Christians in Mosul. They gave them till midday Saturday to either convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or die.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the United States is "particularly outraged" about the death threat.
The vast majority of the Christians have now fled Mosul to other cities, mostly to the largely autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq
This may have been the final exodus of Christians from Mosul, where Christian communities had lived for nearly 2,000 years.
Zaid Qreqosh Ishaq was among those who escaped with his family. He told The Associated Press on Tuesday that they fled with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
"On our way, we had to go through an area where they (the Islamic State) had set up a checkpoint. They asked us to get out of the car. We got out. They took our things and our bags, our money, everything we had on us," he said.
The family took temporary refuge in Saint Joseph Church in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil. The governor there has pledged to protect the Christians.
Zaid's uncle, Ishaq Lazar Gago, a 45-year-old mechanic, said the family had been living in Mosul for generations.
"Our future is uncertain. Our house is now gone. They put it under their name and wrote 'Islamic State' on it. Now what?" he wondered.
Before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, around 1 million Christians called Iraq home.
Since then, the community has been a frequent target for various terrorist groups. Attacks prompted many Christians to leave the country. Church officials now estimate the community at around 450,000.