Persecution of Iraqi Christians denounced

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: The world’s top Islamic body denounced on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) the persecution of Christians in Iraq’s second city Mosul as an “intolerable crime,” and offered to help those displaced by a jihadist offensive.

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The United Nations Security Council has also denounced militant persecution of Christians and other minorities in Iraq, warning such actions can be considered crimes against humanity.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretary general Iyad Madani said the “forced displacement” of Mosul’s Christians showed the Islamic State’s (IS) “practices have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for tolerance and co-existence.”

“These atrocities also contradict the principles of the OIC,” of which Iraq is a member, Madani added, noting that the body was “ready to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to displaced persons until they be able to return to their homes.”

At the weekend, hundreds of families fled Mosul, abandoning homes and belongings after IS fighters running the city issued an ultimatum for Christians to convert, pay a special tax, leave or face execution.

Families who were forced on the road and leaders of Iraq’s Chaldean and other churches said Mosul was now emptied of Christians for the first time in history.

On Sunday, the militants took over the fourth century Mar (Saint) Behnam monastery in northern Iraq, one of the country’s best-known Christian landmarks, and expelled its resident monks.

Jihadist fighters want to create a state based on an extreme interpretation of sharia—or Islamic law—and have targeted all minorities in the Mosul area.

United Nations denouncement
In a unanimous declaration adopted late Tuesday, the UN Security Council’s 15 member countries condemned “in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of individuals from minority populations and those who refuse its extremist ideology in Iraq by ISIL and associated armed groups,” it said, referring to the group’s former name of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

AFP

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