For the First Time in the History of Iraq, Mosul is Now Empty of Christians

nazareneOne of the most horrific stories to come out of the ISIS conquest of central Iraq is the story of the Christians in Mosul (and the rest of the conquered area). There is no good parts of this story. Mafqud wa-Mawjud tells us some of the history of Christianity in the area. If you aren’t familiar with “The Church of the East” you will be amazed.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS has consolidated its hold on the city of Mosul in northern Iraq and is busy converting the metropolitan center to its own extremist brand of Sunni Islam.  Last week the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now styling himself Caliph Ibrahim, issued an order for Christians in the city to a convert to Islam, b pay the jizya tax on non-Muslims at an unspecified rate, or c be killed, although some awareness of the option to leave was displayed in the order as well.  Reports that a church was torched are of uncertain veracity see a careful analysis of the photos circulating around the web at this blog, but images showing an Arabic ن for نصارى, nasara, meaning “Christians” spray-painted on various houses indicate that these houses were available to be seized.  Nor are Christians the only ones to suffer: reportedly some Shiite men have disappeared, Shiite families have been told to flee or be killed, and Shiite homes have been emblazoned with another Arabic letter, ر for رافضي rafidi something like “heretic scum,” while reports are also circulating that ISIS has destroyed the Sunni shrine and tomb of Nabi Yunus the biblical prophet Jonah in the ruins of ancient Nineveh to the east of the Tigris.  In this climate, most Christians chose to leave Mosul for the comparatively tolerant lands of Iraqi Kurdistan to the north, although refugees have reported being robbed of all their belongings at the checkpoint leaving the city.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Sako, who is presently the highest ranking ecclesiastical official of any denomination in Iraq, commented on the expulsion of the Christians, “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

This comment may strike many Americans as odd, because they presume that Iraq and the Middle East more generally are necessarily Muslim regions, and Christianity there must be a recent European importation.  But that is far from the case.  Since the study of Iraqi Christianity is an area of expertise, I thought I would present here a brief timeline of Mosul and its Christians.

In antiquity, whatever settlement or fortification existed on the site of the center of modern Mosul was overshadowed by Nineveh, the old Assyrian capital.  It is unknown when Christianity first arrived in Nineveh, although it had an important bishop by 554, when its bishop was one of the signatories to a council of the Church of the East.  At that time, the bishop was under the authority of the metropolitan archbishop of Arbela modern Erbil to the east of Nineveh, and the patriarchate was in the capital of the Sasanian Persian Empire, south of modern Baghdad.  By the early seventh century, there were also Syriac Orthodox Christians in the region we know of as Iraq, with their regional headquarters in Tagrit modern Tikrit, and an important monastery of Mor Matay outside Mosul.  There was also an important monastery of the Church of the East outside Mosul, the monastery of Mar Gabriel and Mar Abraham, also called the “Upper Monastery,” which later became an important center for liturgical reform in the Church of the East.

via The End of Christianity in Mosul | Mafqud wa-Mawjud.

I also note that Jessica’s co-author Chalcedon451 has written on this as well, here, and here. In addition there is a category there that deals with the history of The Church of the East, if you would like to know more of its history, it is quite fascinating, that category is here.

A short quote from Chalcedon451 will explain the symbol that is illustrated with this article. This is from his first linked article.

Upon the walls of the houses in Mosul, the Islamic symbol for ‘N’ (Nazarene) has appeared, (see the picture at the top of the piece) used, just as the Star of David was by the Nazis, as a sign that this place can be looted and its people attacked. The forces of ISIS have confiscated more than thirty churchesburning down one which goes back to antiquity. There were no twenty four hour news channels when the forces of Mohammed swept through the region in the seventh and eighth centuries, but even his forces were not this brutal. Across the whole of the Middle East, Christian communities as old as any that exist in the world are being exterminated.

I have come to have some doubts about the second war with Iraq, although I was a strong supporter of it. But, notwithstanding my, or your, beliefs on the validity of the war, it happened. What also happened is that America ran away from what we had wrought, thereby causing all the death and injuries to our soldiers and those of our allies, like the British who stood with us to be in vain. In addition, I see no reason why the martyrdom of the Iraqi Christians should not also be laid at the door of those who decided we should, in the inelegant military phrase, “bug out”. May God have mercy on their souls.

Frankly, at this late date there is little to do other than pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq, while sadly noting that many have been martyred and no doubt more will be.

Video Monday: The (Mostly) Whittle Edition

In a sense, I’m cleaning up after the holiday, these have been in the queue for less than a week. All are valuable, and all but one feature Bill Whittle. Normally I would say enjoy, but in this case, pay attention and learn, and start thinking how we are going to fix it.

Obamadelphia, well, why not?

Trifecta on ISIS and why it has erupted, and some on its methods.

Continuing with Trifecta

And a reminder of who we are, and how we got that way.

Oh, yeah, from Norfolk, Nebraska. Which strikes me as a very significant name, combining the stronghold of the Parliamentary forces with a good conservative state.

Not One of Us?

At some point, we will have to decide the question. Here is Bill Whittle’s decision.

I’m pretty much in agreement. How do you see it?

These Americans Need Our Help

Meriam Ibrahim

You know that back in 1802, for the first time in American history, Congress granted the president (Jefferson, by name) the authority to use military force. That force was to be used against the Barbary pirates, who were holding American sailors in slavery. In the course of that action the USS Philadelphia went aground in Tripoli harbor and Lieutenant Stephen Decatur and a detachment of Marines from the Intrepid managed to board and burn her. It was an amazing enough exploit for Lord Nelson to comment that it was “the most bold and daring act of the age.”.

This was also the war in which the first of the epic American marches took place. That happened when 1st Lieutenant of Marines Presley O’Bannon, and former US Consul William Eaton led a force of 8 Marines and five hundred mercenaries from Alexandria, Egypt to Derna, where they assaulted and captured the city. This was the first time the American flag was raised above a captured city. “To the shores of Tripoli“. All to regain some American citizens

Now let’s fast forward a hundred years, an American named Ion Perdicaris was kidnapped by the Raisuli in Morocco who was demanding ransom from the ruler of Morocco. The American president was not amused. And when Theodore Roosevelt was displeased, things happened ( I’ve written about this here). The Secretary of State, John Hay, pronounced the ransom demands as “Preposterous” and nothing much was happening. As the situation developed nearly the entire Atlantic Squadron gathered in Tunis Harbor. At that point a cable was sent (with a shortened version to the Republican convention meeting in Chicago) stating This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.” By the way, it turned out that he had renounced his American citizenship during the civil war, and the government knew it long before that cable was sent.

For 200 hundred years this has been the reaction when you messed with an American citizen. It has served us well, few people have been willing to incur the wrath of the eagle.

But it seems that has changed.

Martin Wani, American citizen chained to a prison wall

The woman whose picture is at the head of this article, Meriam Ibrahim, would be except for the incompetence of the US State Department, an American citizen. She is married to an American citizen and her children are most likely American citizens. She is currently chained to the wall of a Khartoum prison, she is a Christian, raised a Christian, married to a Christian, raising Christian children. That seems to be the problem.

She is sentenced to be flogged soon, and as soon as her newborn daughter is weaned, to be hanged, for apostasy and adultery. The picture to the left is her son, who is also chained to that prison wall.

When her husband went to the US Embassy for help this is what ensued:

[W]hen the case grew more serious Daniel went to the American Embassy in Khartoum for help.

“I thought this would be the one place which would help me, but they told me they didn’t have time to do anything,” Daniel said. “I was upset because now that I am American citizen I thought they would help me.

“I was threatened. They said ‘well your wife isn’t American, so we can’t help’. I felt disgusted. My home is in America and still they won’t help. It’s getting uglier and it’s not going in the right direction.”

Mr Wani said the State Department asked him to provide DNA evidence proving that Martin was his biological son. He added: “I have provided wedding documents and the baby’s birth certificate, but this is clearly not enough. It’s very upsetting that they don’t believe me.

“They want me to take a DNA sample in Khartoum, then send it to the US for testing. It’s as if they don’t believe a word I say.”

John Hinderaker at the Power Line Blog has this to say:

If Barry Obama were not the limpest, most pathetic excuse for a president in American history, he would come down on the two-bit government of Sudan like a ton of bricks. Remember when Michelle Obama posed with a #BringBackOurGirls sign? While I sympathize with the 200-300 young women threatened with slavery in Nigeria as much as anyone, they are not in fact “our girls.” They are Nigerians. Meriam Ibrahim and her husband and children are actually our people. Their persecution, pursuant to Islamic law, is not just an outrage, but an insult to all Americans. So, President Obama: it is time to man up. Put aside your weird relationship with Islam, and do what it takes to bring these Americans home.

One more thing: the Islamic authorities in Khartoum told Meriam Ibrahim that she can avoid hanging if she will simply abandon Christianity and become a Muslim. Ibrahim replied that she has been a Christian all her life, and she will not renounce her faith. One might think that American Christians would take some interest in her story. “It is neither right nor safe to go against one’s conscience,” Martin Luther said, when interrogated at the Diet of Worms. “Here I stand, I can do nothing else.” But to my knowledge, no mainstream Christian denomination has taken up Meriam’s cause. Certainly not my own, which claims descent from Luther and, I believe, has more African adherents than any other Christian denomination.

Emphasis mine, and no, neither has my church

Personally, I think he is being overkind to the American government, not to mention how revolted I am by the non reaction of the American people and churches.

Excuse me while I go get sick.

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Boko Haram: the Illusion of Clean Hands, and the End of Americans in Space

MichelleObamaBringBackOurGirlsThis is an outstanding article and it links through to more outstanding articles. I heartily recommend them all, I wish I was a good enough thinker and/or writer to produce these. Anyway, see you on the other side.

Grim has an interesting post up on the much ballyhoo’d photo of the First Lady’s recent foray into hashtag diplomacy. In it, he responds to a piece by Mark Steyn pointing out the yawning gap between political rhetoric and policy:

Contempt may well be warranted, but not for the failure to deploy special operators into this.

…You can’t drop a SEAL team if you don’t know where to drop them, and we most likely don’t have any idea. That’s not contemptible. It’s a fact of the art of war.

The right reason to feel contempt is at the posture, which makes our nation look weak and helpless. We probably can’t rescue these girls in a Hollywood-style raid, but we could wipe this group off the face of the earth in a few hours if we were willing to kill a lot of innocent people too. We could wipe them out in weeks, with less danger to innocents, if we were willing to deploy the 1st Cavalry Division for that purpose with a very loose set of ROE.

If we don’t do those things, it’s because we are choosing not to do them. It won’t do for the White House to beg, plead, or scold, or make sad faces in front of a camera.

Take responsibility for your choice.

via Villainous Company: Boko Haram and the Illusion of Clean Hands.

And that is what I find so contemptible about this whole hashtag thing. Grim is right, when done by Hollywood celebrities and average people it can be considered almost a form of “speaking truth to power” and in that sense, is good.

But when Michelle Obama and even more David Cameron stand there looking sappy with their signs. Just who in the hell do they think the are trying to persuade? They are “The Man”, although I suspect they are reluctant to admit it to themselves, it implies that they are responsible for many things, and they don’t want that to be true. But it is true, Elections have consequences. Now it up to the two of you, largely whether 276 Nigerian Christian teenage girls will live in freedom, live in slavery, or die. You, Barack, you wanted the job, you got it, you get the responsibility. Just like you are responsible for every person who dies because of Obamacare. Your policies, in great part, emboldened Boko Haram to commit this outrage. You, Obama, no one else, you are the captain of the ship, you bear responsibility.

th (1)The same is true for poor David Cameron, only more so. In a very real sense these are his girls, they are Nigerians and thus in a sense British, just like the Falklanders that Maggie restored to freedom all those years ago. Just like those Pakistanis that whole British and American armies fought to free from Imperial Japan.

Those who seek and find great prestige, always find that it comes with great responsibility. If you shirk the responsibility, you will find the prestige, and your honor as well, has left with it. And so has whatever share of manhood you had. Sad, really, for our so-called leaders. Sadder for us who are being so poorly led. Saddest of all for those girls in the Niger, and their dead brothers whom we have ignored. When great powers are led by small men, there is little protection for any of us, and soon they shall no longer be great powers either.

In other news, because of our intrepid stand in the Ukraine, Russia has announce that we will no longer be welcome in the (approximately 85% American built) International Space Station., Nor will they ferry our astronauts, after 2020. And they will quit selling us the rocket engines that we use to launch military satellites.

Soft power, it’s what for dinner.

Remember this.

Yeah, enjoy. That America died a few years ago, about 2008, if I recall. But we’ll be fine as long as China keeps selling us electronics for our defense department.

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Kidnapping Girls is Bad, But Burning Boys Alive Is Not News

MichelleObamaBringBackOurGirlsSome people are just too stupid to speak for anybody, let alone the American people and government. Unfortunately one of them is the Secretary of State

The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime, and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice. I will tell you, my friends, I have seen this scourge of terror across the planet, and so have you. They [terrorists] don’t offer anything except violence. They don’t offer a health care plan, they don’t offer schools . They don’t tell you how to build a nation, they don’t talk about how they will provide jobs. They just tell people, ‘You have to behave the way we tell you to,’ and they will punish you if you don’t.

John Kerry, Source: Townhall

I mean really the problem with Boko Haram is that they lack socialized medicine, schools, they don’t do nation building or provide jobs. If those were the only problems with Boko Haram, they wouldn’t be terrorists, they’d be American heroes. OK, I was nearly as hyperbolic there as Kerry but they’d still be terrorists even if they had those things. And while we are about it, could we get over the idiotic notion that holding signs with an octothorpe followed by slogans accomplishes anything at all. Except, of course, to make us look, childish, hip, and ineffectual.

Since the Nigerian Islamic radical group Boko Haram kidnapped over 100 schoolgirls in mid-April, the media and the American government have been up in arms over this outrage. With over 200 girls in captivity, Boko Haram warned that they may sell the children into slavery.

Beginning the night of the kidnappings on April 16 and continuing ever since, the press has devoted relentless focus to the crisis in Nigeria. Nearly a block an hour on the three major cable news networks has been devoted raising awareness about the group, their medieval views, their aims, and the atrocities they have committed in the past.

The pressure exerted by the media moved the American government to action. President Barack Obama expressed revulsion over the kidnappings in interviews with local and network news personalities. House Speaker John Boehner joined Obama and said that, as a parent, he cannot imagine the horror of having your daughters kidnapped.


On February 25, between 40 and 59 children were killed by the fundamentalist militant group. Early that morning, Boko Haram terrorists attacked a boarding school and shot many of children, aged 11 to 18, while they slept. Some of the students were gunned down as they attempted to flee. Others had their throats slit. In some buildings, Boko Haram militants locked the doors and set the building alight. The occupants were burned alive.

All of the victims were boys. Reports indicated that the young girls the militants encountered were spared. According to the BBC, the militants told the girls to flee, get married, and shun the western education to which they were privy..

via Why Did Kidnapping Girls, but Not Burning Boys Alive, Wake Media Up to Boko Haram? | Mediaite.

And that’s a problem. Aren’t little black boys a high enough class of victim for our government and media. It has to be black girls now, it seems. Look I’m as horrified as anybody else about this, which can only be fairly defined as a slave raid. But those 50 or so boys deserve our notice just as much, and in fact, they would if they were Chinese, or Swedish as well. This predisposed hierarchy of victims is disgusting, and obscene. Anybody at all murdered or kidnapped by terrorists deserves justice, and notice and whatever help can be provided. Apparently western governments and news media are both racist and sexist. Of course, we already knew that.

The £ Daily Mail had a decent article written by Sir Max Hastings on this yesterday, I suggest you read it. But the ending of the article is disheartening to those of us who remember when the British (and the Americans) would risk blood and treasure, at least sometimes, to do the right thing.

But it is beyond our powers to save them from their own rulers. Even if — as is most unlikely — the SAS is invited to help in a rescue operation, they should not do so. The risk is too great that they get dragged into a disaster by the bloody-handed Nigerian army.

The outside world’s most useful contribution is to shine the floodlights of media attention on the corruption and cruelty of the Nigerian government.

It is international publicity, not shame, that has forced President Goodluck Jonathan’s rotten regime belatedly to respond to the kidnapping by offering a £190,000 reward.

The fanatics of Boko Haram cannot be defeated by matching them murder for murder, atrocity for atrocity. Only when the bloated bosses in the capital offer some portion of social justice to the north is there a chance of peace, and displacing the Islamist fanatics.

Britain’s days of playing world’s policeman are long gone, as even the Prime Minister at his most boy-scoutish must recognise. It is right for the Government to join cries of outrage about the schoolgirls’ plight. But Africa can be saved from itself only by Africans, not by heroes from Hereford.

He may have a point but I would like to ask Sir Max, “Just how many editorials in the London newspapers did it take to eliminate slavery in the western world?”

Because if memory serves it took decades of Royal (and US) Navy patrols off Africa culminating in the deaths of 600,000 American deaths out of a population of about 17 million.

Are these people so much less worthy than the ones 150 years ago?


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