Iraq: the growing list of Christian sites occupied by the Islamic State

Mar Benham Monastery, seized by the Islamic State.
The Muslim militants of the so-called Islamic State, led by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, seized the city of Mosul in northern Iraq on 10 June 2014. As it progressed from a band of militants fighting against the Alawi-led dictatorship in Syria under President Bashr al-Assad, it had been also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and alternately translated as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (referring to Greater Syria; Arabic: الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشامal-Dawlah al-Islāmīyah fi al-Iraq wal-Sham), also known by the Arabic acronym DAESH. Its aim is to unite all Muslim countries under a central ruler in Damascus, thereby emulating the ancient Caliphate that was once based there.
 
Before the end of July, the Christians of Mosul found the Arabic letter 'Nu', scrawled on their homes and businesses by the militants. They were first told that these marks were for their protection. The Arabic letter Nu corresponds to the letter N, and stands for the Muslim epithet for Christians as 'Nazarenes': which is to say that Christians are considered heretical followers of Jesus of Nazareth. By the end of July the Christians were told to convert to Islam or face death. The cathedral of the Orthodox church in Mosul was seized by the Islamist militants and the cross at the summit of the dome was broken off and tossed to the ground. In its place was put the black flag of Islam. Christians soon began to stream out of Mosul and sought shelter further north in Iraq among the relatively more moderate Kurdish Muslims, or fled to neighboring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. Christians are frequently stopped by the Islamist militants, who demand payment for safe passage but also rape women and girls.
In some instances, Christian girls have been forced to marry Muslims and also convert to Islam under threat of death.
 
ISIS consists of fanatical Sunni Muslims who view all other versions of Islam as heretical. Captured Iraqi Muslim soldiers and police have been summarily executed by ISIS. In addition, in Mosul at least six converts from Islam to the Christian faith were beheaded: the cost of apostasy according to Muslim religious law.
 
The Sunni Muslim marauders of the Islamic State did not spare the burial site of the Prophet Jonah, a place sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Anciently, the Muslims who invaded and occupied Spain in 711 AD behaved similarly. For example, Muslims razed a Catholic place of worship in Cordoba that had been built in 550 AD. Marble and porphyry columns and pediments were taken from churches throughout Spain by the Muslim ruler Abd el Rahman II, who built in the place of the church raised by the Visigoths the most beautiful mosque in the Muslim world. Cordoba became the second-most important city for all Muslims, while Damascus retained priority. The mosque at Cordoba was not returned to Christian worship until 1236. In recent years, Spanish Muslims - with support from Socialists and secularists - have insisted that the church be used for Muslim worship.
 
Here follows a partial list of the Christian religious sites in Mosul that the Islamic State has destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered. All  Christian institutions in Mosul were so treated by the Islamic State:
 
Syriac Catholic Church:
 
Syrian Catholic Diocese - Maidan Neighborhood, Mosul
The Old Church of the Immaculate - Maidan Neighborhood, Mosul (The church goes back to the eighth century AD)
The New Church of the Immaculate - Maidan Neighborhood
Church of Mar (Saint) Toma - Khazraj Neighborhood
Museum of Mar (Saint) Toma - Khazraj Neighborhood
Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation - Muhandiseen Neighborhood
Church of the Virgin of Fatima - Faisaliah Neighborhood
Our Lady of Deliverance Chapel - Shifaa Neighborhood
The House of the Young Sisters of Jesus - Ras Al-Kour Neighborhood
Archbishop's Palace Chapel - Dawasa Neighborhood
 
Syriac Orthodox Church:
 
Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese - Shurta Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Church of Saint Ahodeeni - Bab AlJadeed Neighborhood
Mar (Saint) Toma Church and cemetery, (the old Bishopric) - Khazraj Neighborhood
Church of The Immaculate (Castle) - Maidan Neighborhood
Church of The Immaculate - Shifaa Neighborhood
Mar (Saint) Aprim Church - Shurta Neighborhood
St. Joseph Church - The New Mosul Neighborhood
 
Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East:
 
Diocese of the Assyrian Church of the East - Noor Neighborhood
Assyrian Church of the East, Dawasa Neighborhood
Church of the Virgin Mary (old rite) - Wihda Neighborhood
 
Chaldean Catholic Church:
 
Chaldean Diocese - Shurta Neighborhood
Miskinta Church - Mayassa Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Church of Shimon alSafa - Mayassa Neighborhood
Church of Mar (Saint) Buthyoon - Shahar AlSouq Neighborhood
Church of St. Ephrem, Wady AlAin Neighborhood
Church of St. Paul - Majmooaa AlThaqafiya District
The Old Church of the Immaculate (with the bombed archdiocese)- Shifaa Neighborhood
Church of the Holy Spirit - Bakir Neighborhood
Church of the Virgin Mary - Drakziliya Neighborhood
Ancient Church of Saint Isaiah and Cemetery - Ras AlKour Neighborhood
Mother of Aid Church - Dawasa Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Church of St. George- Khazraj Neighborhood
St. George Monastery with Cemetery - Arab Neighborhood
Monastery of AlNasir (Victory) - Arab Neighborhood
Convent of the Chaldean Nuns - Mayassa Neighborhood
Monastery of St. Michael - Hawi Church Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Monastery of St. Elijah - Ghazlany Neighborhood
 
Armenian Orthodox Church:
 
Armenian Church - Maidan Neighborhood
The New Armenian Church - Wihda Neighborhood
 
Evangelical Presbyterian Church:
 
Evangelical Presbyterian Church - Mayassa Neighborhood
 
Latin Catholic Church:
 
Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and Convent of Katrina Siena Nuns - Sa'a Neighborhood
Convent of the Dominican Sisters, - Mosul AlJadeed Neighborhood
Convent of the Dominican Sisters (AlKilma Monastery) - Majmooaa AlThaqafiya District
House of Qasada AlRasouliya (Apostolic Aim) (Institute of St. John the Beloved)
 
Cemeteries:
 
Christian Cemetery in the Ekab Valley which contains a small chapel.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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