ISIS gives ultimatum to Iraqi Christians: convert, pay special tax, or die
Iraqi Christian children gather inside the Church of the Virgin Mary for prayers in the town of Bartala, east of the northern city of Mosul. (Karim Sahib/AFP)
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Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea condemned on Saturday the Islamic State's attacks against Christians and minorities in the Iraqi city of Mosul, calling for peace and for eradicating ISIS and other “oppressive” regimes.
"I strongly deplore and condemn attacks against Christians and all minorities like Shiites, Turkmen, Mandaeists, Yazidis and others in Mosul and in regions under ISIS control,” Geagea said in a statement published on his official Facebook page.
ISIS had issued a statement in Iraq's Nineveh province calling for a meeting with Christian leaders to give them the choice between converting to Islam or pay a dhimmi –- a tax imposed on non-Muslims.
If Christians rejected both options, the only choice left is “the use of the sword,” the ISIS statement warned.
Following the ISIS threat, Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako announced that “for the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” adding that "Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil" in Kurdistan.
The LF leader stressed that he “completely rejects these abhorrent acts that contradict with all human, nationalist and social notions.”
"These also contradict with religious beliefs expressed by senior Muslim clerics and scholars of all sects and that stress that 'there is no compulsion in religion',” Geagea went on to say.
He underscored “the historical presence of Christians and of other minorities in Iraq.”
"They did not experience in the early days of Islam what they are blatantly going through now because of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” he said.
The Christian leader then issued an “urgent call to the moderate factions in Mosul to work on stopping ISIS's acts and to promote moderation at the expense of blind extremism.”
"This extremism serves these oppressive regimes that are looking for any excuse to preserve their existence,” Geagea considered.
He also urged the region's nations and world powers to “draw a limit to ISIS and strive to establish peace, justice and equality” to replace Takfiris.
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