ISIS thugs ordered all Christians to leave the city by noon of Saturday, July 19, pay an exorbitant fine, or face “death by the sword,” reported CNN, after Christians declined to attend a meeting ISIS had called to “discuss” their presence in Mosul. Christian residents of Mosul said they had been afraid to attend the meeting called by ISIS, and were given the ultimatum shortly afterward.
“A total of 52 Christian families left the city of Mosul early Saturday morning [July 19], with an armed group prohibiting some of them from taking anything but the clothes on their backs,” reported CNN. One resident told CNN that armed terrorists identifying with ISIS had warned Christians, “You are to leave all of your money, gold, jewelry, and go out with only the clothes on you.”
The New York Times noted that since 2003, “when Saddam Hussein was ousted, Mosul’s Christians, one of the oldest communities of its kind in the world, had seen their numbers dwindle from over 30,000 to just a few thousand, but once ISIS swept into the city in early June, there were reports that the remaining Christians had fled.”
Residents who belong to Chaldean, Assyrian, and other Christian sects had originally hoped to be able to stay in Mosul, “to continue the quiet practice of their faith in the city that had been their home for more than 1,700 years,” reported the Times, but the ISIS edict caused that hope to quickly fade.
Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako, leader of Iraq's largest Christian group, said the ISIS ultimatum had caused most Christians to give up hope of living in harmony with the Sunni Islamic ISIS group. “Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil [in Kurdistan],” said the patriarch. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”
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Photos shows Christians who fled Mosul, Iraq, praying in a church in Qaraqoush on the outskirts of Mosul: AP Images