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As the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has spread across the Middle East, it has targeted religious minorities, particularly the Christian communities it comes across. Arutz Sheva provides this tragic story of Assyrian Christians who the terrorists have recently attacked and displaced:
Waiting in an aid line outside Lebanon’s capital Beirut, Assyrian Christian Francie Yaacoub remembers the well-stocked home she left behind in Syria as she fled advancing Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists.
“We left behind a house full of everything. Why do we now have to stand at the church door?” she asked quietly as she waited to receive aid at the Assyrian diocese of Sid al-Boushriyeh, reports AFP.
She is one of hundreds of Assyrian Christians who have arrived in Lebanon in recent weeks after ISIS jihadists stormed their villages in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakeh.
Members of Lebanon’s Assyrian community, many of them related to those who fled Hasakeh, are doing their best to welcome the new refugees, but the displacement has left them traumatized.
Yaacoub, in her fifties, now lives in a small house with her son, husband and five other Assyrian refugees. Her family fled their village, Tal Nasri, during a terrifying ISIS bombardment last week.
“We left in our pajamas. My son walked barefoot, we left without our shoes on,” she said. “The shells were falling all around us…We had to flee because the safety of your children is the most important thing.”
Yaacoub’s family was not alone – thousands of Assyrians have been forced to abandon their villages along Hasakeh’s Khabur river since ISIS jihadists began an attack there in February.
The group has seized at least 11 of the 33 Assyrian villages in the region, and kidnapped more than 200 members of the ancient Christian sect, which numbered around 30,000 in Syria before the war …
“The villages of Khabur are empty now, there is no one left except some fighters,” lamented Chorbishop Yatron Koliana, as he oversaw the distribution at his diocese.
“Our people have experienced a great tragedy in Syria,” he added with a sigh, saying that many of the new arrivals were traumatized. “They are depressed. Some of them…Read More » Comments (7) »
Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 at 8:27 AM | Stand For Israel
Last week Stand for Israel reported the horrific abduction of hundreds of Christians by the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group. Now, Newsweek reports that 19 of those who were kidnapped have been released, though dozens remain in captivity:
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The Islamic State (ISIS) has released 19 of its Assyrian hostages, according to the human rights group A Demand for Action. The 17 men and two women are from Tal Goran, Syria; it is unclear why they were released on Sunday.
Last week, ISIS took hundreds of Assyrian villagers hostage in the Tell Tamer region of Syria. Although the exact number of captives is unknown, A Demand For Action estimates between 150 and 274 hostages remain.
The terrorist organization also burned local churches belonging to the Christian community. A Demand for Action said in a statement that the Islamic State is attempting to “ethnically cleanse” the region.
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Stand For Israel
This week, Stand for Israel has been closely following the plight of Assyrian Christians taken captive by the Islamic State (ISIS). The New York Times reports that the terrorist group has now taken nearly 300 Christians, all the while destroying priceless, antiquated art and archaeology:
The reports are like something out of a distant era of ancient conquests: entire villages emptied, with hundreds taken prisoner, others kept as slaves; the destruction of irreplaceable works of art; a tax on religious minorities, payable in gold.
A rampage reminiscent of Tamerlane or Genghis Khan, perhaps, but in reality, according to reports by residents, activist groups and the assailants themselves, a description of the modus operandi of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate this week. The militants have prosecuted a relentless campaign in Iraq and Syria against what have historically been religiously and ethnically diverse areas with traces of civilizations dating to ancient Mesopotamia.
The latest to face the militants’ onslaught are the Assyrian Christians of northeastern Syria, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, some speaking a modern version of Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Assyrian leaders have counted 287 people taken captive, including 30 children and several dozen women, along with civilian men and fighters from Christian militias, said Dawoud Dawoud, an Assyrian political activist who had just toured the area, in the vicinity of the Syrian city of Qamishli. Thirty villages had been emptied, he said.
The Syriac Military Council, a local Assyrian militia, put the number of those taken at 350 …
The assault on the Assyrian communities comes amid battles for a key crossroads in the area. But to residents, it also seems to be part of the latest effort by the Islamic State militants to eradicate or subordinate anyone and anything that does not comport with their vision of Islamic rule — whether…Read More » Comments (5) »
Friday, February 27th, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Stand for Israel
As we reported earlier this week, hundreds of Christians in Syria have been abducted by terrorists from the Islamic State (ISIS). Now The Algemeiner reports that an Assyrian Christian leader is speaking out on the tragic plight of his brethren:
Father Colliana noted that, “ISIS terrorists carried out this attack against these Assyrian villages, and the number of our people still there in the area is somewhere between seven and ten thousand people. The rest fled to Lebanon, or Iraq or other countries. At the very least, we know that our families face great dangers, and they are now threatened with death, or kidnapping or displacement.”
At dawn on Monday, the extremist group’s fighters swept through the Assyrian villages nestled along the banks of the Khabur River, which is located near the town of Tal Tamr, in Syria’s Al-Hasakah province.
Father Colliana said that that approximately 100 young men and women were kidnapped by ISIS, a number that has been confirmed by a few human rights groups. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported on the abductions based on information from a network of activists inside Syria, put the number of the Assyrians being held by ISIS at 90. Nuri Kino, of the group A Demand For Action, which focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East, said that, based on conversations with villagers who escaped the onslaught, ISIS had taken 70 to 100 Assyrians captive.
According to both groups, most of the captives came from the village of Tal Shamirun, some 50 miles southwest of the province’s capital Qamishli.
Father Colliana said that, “the fighters entered the town of Tal Shamriun and took it over. The popular Assyrian and Kurdish committees were carrying out the defense of these towns as much as they could, but they could not repel these groups of ISIS fighters which were equipped with modern weapons. Meanwhile, the warplanes of the coalition were hovering in the airspace above the area without targeting ISIS locations or their groupings, as…Read More » Comments (30) »
Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 9:03 AM | Stand for Israel
As the Islamic State (ISIS) has continued its spread across Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East, its actions toward Christians and others it associates with the free, Western world have been especially alarming. Today, The Times of Israel reports that the terror group has taken several dozen Christians – including women and children – from village in Syria:
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Islamic State militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, after overrunning a string of villages in northeastern Syria, two activist groups said Tuesday.
The extremist fighters swept through the Assyrian villages nestled along the banks of Khabur River near the town of Tal Tamr in Hassakeh province around dawn on Monday.
In the assault, the militants took between 70 and 100 Assyrians captive, said Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action that focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East …
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the abductions, but put the number of Assyrians held by the Islamic State group at 90. The Observatory relies on a network of activists inside Syria.
Both activist groups said that most of the captives come from the village of Tal Shamiram, located some 85 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the provincial capital of Qamishli.
It was not immediately clear what the Islamic State group planned to do with the Assyrians.
The militants have a long history of killing captives, including foreign journalists, Syrian soldiers and Kurdish militiamen.
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 at 8:42 AM | Stand For Israel
This weekend, the Islamic State (ISIS) faction in Libya released a video showing the graphic execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Haaretz reports that in response, the Egyptian military has struck ISIS targets in Libya:
Egypt’s military said in a statement on state television that it had carried out an air strike against Islamic State targets in Libya at dawn on Monday, a day after the group released a video appearing to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians there.
The attack focused on Islamic State camps, training sites and weapons storage areas across Egypt’s border in Libya, where Islamist militants have thrived amid chaos. Libya’s air force commander said the country’s warplanes joined the Egyptian operation.
In the video released by Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, militants in black marched the captives, dressed in orange jump suits, to a beach the group said was near Tripoli. They were forced down onto their knees, then beheaded.
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi warned that his country would respond to the deaths as it saw fit. Speaking on national television hours after the release of the video, Sissi said Cairo would choose the “necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings”.
Egypt’s state news agency MENA quoted the spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by Islamic State were dead.
The beheadings could stiffen Sissi’s resolve in dealing with security threats from militants thriving in neighbouring Libya’s chaos who want to topple his U.S.-backed government …
Sissi, who met with the country’s top military commanders to discuss the killings, called for a seven-day mourning period, state television reported.
The United States on Sunday condemned the “despicable and cowardly murder” of the 21 Egyptians.
“This wanton killing of innocents is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest…Read More » Comments (24) »
Monday, February 16th, 2015 at 8:33 AM | Stand for Israel
In the past, we have noted the stand for Israel taken by Father Gabriel Naddaf, an Orthodox priest from Nazareth. This week, Father Gabriel spoke before the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., discussing faith, freedom, and his homeland of Israel:
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Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Nazareth-based Greek Orthodox Christian priest of Aramean background, has become a symbol and vocal witness of the situation for Christians in Israel, and how that differs from the way Christians are treated everywhere else in the Middle East.
Speaking before US congressional leaders in Washington, DC this week, Father Naddaf explained:
“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christians are affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security. It is Israel, the Jewish State. In Israel, Christians enjoy good education, employment, welfare, healthcare, and high socio-economic standing. In Israel, Christians have freedom, which no Muslim power has ever offered us.”
In telling the American lawmakers about his own journey of faith, Father Naddaf recalled moving as a young man to the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Haifa, where, in the course of meeting and working with Jews, he discovered that “the idea that I needed to be scared of Jews, or that there was something dangerous about them was simply not true. The myth was shattered.”
It is this same hate-filled misinformation about Israel’s Jews and their intentions that is fueling the current violence centering on Jerusalem.
Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 8:49 AM | Stand For Israel
The recent violence in Israel has become unbearable. Two are dead – a young woman and an IDF soldier – from terrorist stabbings. Four more have died from attacks that saw terrorists drive vehicles into crowds. Riots and fighting threaten daily life in and around Jerusalem. How will it stop? How can it be stopped? Dexter Van Zile writes that one group that could help ease the strife is made up of Christians:
What we see has all the makings of a Third Intifada that will cost hundreds, if not thousands, of people their lives. It will make life more difficult for both Jews and Arabs.
If the violence continues unabated, there will be more checkpoints in the West Bank and it will be more difficult for Palestinians to get into Israel to work or worship in Jerusalem’s Holy Places.
Tourism will decline, costing shop owners in both Jerusalem and Bethlehem the income they need to survive. A Third Intifada will simply be a disaster for Israelis and Palestinians.
Clearly, somebody in Palestinian society needs to come forward and speak words of peace to their fellow Palestinians.
One group that should be in a position are Christians living in Bethlehem, particularly those associated with Bethlehem Bible College and The Holy Land Trust, located nearby.
Both of these institutions were established by the Awad family, a prominent Christian family in Bethlehem.
For the past few decades, these Christians, who have close ties to the Palestinian Authority, have portrayed themselves as a force for peace and development in Palestinian society.
They have done this at Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences organized by Bethlehem Bible College, where Israel is condemned left right and center for its actions and where Palestinian and Arab violence is downplayed or condoned.
These Christian activists now face a test.
Will they condemn their fellow Palestinians who have run over Israelis with their cars in Jerusalem?
Will they condemn their fellow Palestinians who have stabbed Israelis in…Read More » Comments (6) »
Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 at 8:07 AM | Stand for Israel
Last week the United Nations released a report on the ongoing (and worsening) human-rights abuses in Iran. Two news reports discuss this list of Iranian abuses, abuses being performed by the same nation with which the Western world is preparing to make a nuclear agreement. Christian Daily writes that Iran continues to persecute religious minorities (these often being Christians):
A new report released by United Nations complies a list of extreme persecution that religious minorities have faced in Iran including closing down churches, raiding services, arrests without proper warrants, psychological abuse, and death threats.
“At least 49 Protestant Christians are currently detained, many for involvement in informal house churches,” the UN report writes. “In April 2014, security forces reportedly raided an Easter service in a private home in southern Tehran and detained six individuals.”
The 28-page report was compiled together by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Right in the Islamic Republic of Iran. President Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran’s president in 2013 and promoted a new era of tolerance in the region, but Shaheed’s report shows the persecution of minorities has been prevalent since his election.
In the report, Shaheed also makes note that many religious minorities who are arrested in Iran are not given proper representation or due process in court.
“The Baha’i International Community and Iranian Evangelical Christian leaders added that many of the lawyers who had accepted sensitive Baha’i or Christian cases had been imprisoned or had to flee the country,” the report states.
Before Rouhani was elected he stated, according to Fox News, that, “All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice. Long live citizenship rights!”
Among the pastors that are imprisoned for their faith is Saeed Abedini, who has been in Iranian prison for over a year. His case has received international attention, and last month more than 500 cities in 30 countries held prayer vigils in honor of Pastor Saeed.
An additional pastor detained in Iran is Behnam Irani who…Read More » Comments (6) »
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 8:07 AM | Stand For Israel
As the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) battles the U.S.-led coalition intent on stopping its spread, more news has come out on the persecution the terror group has committed against those who don’t share their beliefs. Gatestone Institute’s Raymond Ibrahim reports on how ISIS has emptied the region of its ancient Christian communities, as well as persecution faced by other Christians around the world:
During the Islamic State’s June invasion and consolidation of Mosul, Iraq — where Christians have been present since the first century — countless atrocities against them were committed. Accordingly, the region is now reportedly empty of Christian presence.
The Islamic State, among other acts, reinstituted the collection of jizya, the “tribute” conquered Christians (and Jews) were historically required to pay in order not to be killed in accordance with the Koran (9:29).
In one instance, three Islamic State members burst into the home of a Christian family, demanding the jizya-money. When the father of the house pleaded that he did not have the money, the intruders raped his wife and daughter in front of him. The man was reportedly so traumatized that he committed suicide. Four other Christian women were killed for not wearing the Islamic veil.
Soon after taking over Mosul, the Islamic State also announced that it would destroy all Christian places of worship. Several churches were burned, including the Armenian church near the Al Salam hospital, and the Church of the Holy Spirit, after first being looted and desecrated. A large statue of the Virgin Mary disappeared.
Among the many Christians missing are two nuns from the Daughters of Mary Order, who managed an orphanage for girls in Mosul. It is believed they have been kidnapped …
Kenya: Approximately 50 militants from Somalia’s Islamic Al Shabaab (“the youth”) network attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in Mpeketoni, a predominantly Christian town on Kenya’s coast, during the night of Sunday June 15. They chanted “Allahu Akbar!” (“Allah is Greater!”) and Read More » Comments (24) »
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 8:07 AM | Stand For Israel