Colonel Steve Warren, talking to CNN, when questioned about ISIS’s genocide of minorities including Christians, said, “ISIL doesn’t care if you’re a Christian … We’ve seen no specific evidence of a specific targeting towards Christians.”
In Iraq and everywhere else it has conquered, ISIS has, at a minimum, rigorously enforced on pain of death Islam’s dhimmi laws, which require Christians to pay extortion money (jizya) and agree to live by a set of degrading rules.
Due to Islamic laws enforced by ISIS and ISIL, thousands of Christians have been forced to leave their homes in Iraq.
Often, ISIS fighters simply torture to death Christians who refuse to convert to Islam, sometimes releasing the footage online for propaganda purposes. Most notable are two videotaped mass executions of 21 Egyptians and 30 Ethiopians in Libya last spring, but there have been many lesser-known cases. When a group of Iraqi Christian children refused to renounce Christ in 2014, saying “No, we love Jesus,” ISIS decapitated and mangled their bodies.
Last summer in Aleppo, Syria, ISIS tortured, mutilated, publicly raped, beheaded and crucified 12 Christians for refusing to convert. Escaped eyewitnesses have reported ISIS places Iraqi and Syrian Christians in cages or coffins and sets them on fire.
ISIS has frequently kidnapped Christians and demanded ransom payments for their release, often forcing female captives into sexual slavery. A 12-year-old girl, raped by an Islamic State fighter, was told that “what he was about to do was not a sin” because she “practiced a religion other than Islam.”
The Islamic State is committed to expunging all physical traces of Christianity in areas it conquers, demolishing dozens of ancient churches—in Syria alone, up to 400 churches have been destroyed since the war—not to mention countless crucifixes, statues, graves, and other relics. It ordered the University of Mosul to burn all books written by Christians and decreed that all schools in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain that bore Christian names (some since the 1700s) be changed.
As for the occasion of Warren’s comments—ISIS’ destruction of a 1,400 year-old monastery—this is nothing new. Last summer ISIS set fire to a 1,800 year-old church in Mosul and bulldozed a 1,600 year-old monastery in Homs for “worshipping a God other than Allah.”
For years, ISIS has been playing havoc in the lives of Christians in Iraq and Syria and for the official spokesman of the U.S. military’s fight against ISIS to make such clueless and callous remarks to the contrary is deeply disconcerting.