By World Tribune –
Christians are facing relentless persecution on several fronts, including the ongoing civil war in Syria, the atrocities of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), turmoil in Iraq and Libya, anti-Christian fervor in Iran and mass exodus from Turkey.
“How much longer can we flee before we and other minorities become a story in a history book?” said Nuri Kino, a journalist who founded the advocacy group Demand for Action.
According to a report by The New York Times Magazine, about one third of the 600,000 Syrian Christians have fled the country. The report said only about a third of Iraq’s Christians, a population that topped 1.5 million in 2003, remain today.
“Christianity is under an existential threat,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, told the Times.
Recently posted videos by ISIL say that Christians are second-class subjets in the caliphate who have to pay a “jizya” tax or convert to Islam. Those who refuse would be killed, the narrator warned, as footage of atrocities against Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya is shown.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has used the rise of ISIL to bolster his own support, contending that he is the only thing stopping the terrorists from taking over Syria.
“When Christians saw Christians being beheaded, those who saw Assad as the enemy chose the lesser of two evils,” Samy Gemayel, leader of the Kataeb party in Lebanon, told the Times.
The population of Christians in the Mideast — including in such areas as Egypt, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan — has dropped to roughly 4 percent of their respective population from a high of 14 percent, according to the UK’s Guardian Newspaper.
“Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Christians in fact enjoyed what they now recall as a golden age. They were free to worship and played a full role in society. However, the removal of the dictator let loose an ugly Shia-Sunni power struggle,” The Guardian wrote.
Photo: An ISIL fighter hoists a flag atop a church in Mosul Iraq, dismantling a cross. /AP