There are no Christians left in Iraq’s second-largest city after a weekend ultimatum left Mosul residents with three choices: convert to Islam, pay jizya (a poll tax levied on non-Muslims), or die at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
On historical bases Mosul, is home to the Old Testament prophet Jonah’s tomb and the ruins of Nineveh. It was the intention of Iraq’s government to secure a future province,” where Christians could govern themselves.”
This past weekend, ISIS gave Christians until noon Saturday to choose between the three options. The ISIS declaration read: “After this date, the only thing between us and them is the sword.” According to The New York Times that,” while a few Christians may remain in hiding after this weekend, Mosul’s once diverse Christian community has likely come to a real end.” ISIS imposed $250 poll tax as Jizya expensive for many Christians resulting in exodus of more than 200 Christian families fleeing Mosul while the ISIS militants took away their belongings, including cars, money, medicine, and food. According to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), some journeyed 42 miles to Kurdish Tel Afar on foot, while some of the families went to Kurdish-held Irbil, or Dohuk, which is 87 miles north of Mosul.
ISIS called Mosul’s Christian leaders on Thursday 24th of July to notify them of Islamic rules to follow, which the Christians didn’t attend. According to the World Watch Monitor ISIS leaders used vehicle loudspeakers to announce their ultimatum throughout the town. The Middle East Concern reports that ISIS earlier last week marked Christian houses in Mosul with the letter the phrase “property of the Islamic State” and an Arabic mark for “Nazirite.”
A Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad Louis Raphael Sako, said in a statement that the labels disturbed centuries of religious coexistence. He said, “This categorization based upon religion or sect afflicts the Muslims as well and contravenes the regulation of Islamic thought. With all due respect to belief and dogmas, there has been a fraternal life between Christians and Muslims. … Together they built a civilization, cities, and a heritage. It is truly unjust now to treat Christians by rejecting them and throwing them away, considering them as nothing.”
According to Al Jazeera hundreds of thousands of Christian refugees have fled Mosul and resettled in tent camps in Kurdistan, nevertheless the situation is increasingly dangerous for them. As temperatures rise overwhelmingly Christian refugees have nowhere else to go with a handful of possessions.