Iraqi Chaldean bishop urges world to act after Mosul’s Christians forced to flee

By Reuters Staff
July 20, 2014
(An Iraqi Christian family fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul, arrives at the town of Qaraqush in the province of Nineveh, July 19, 2014. The ancient Christian community of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul had all but fled by Saturday, ending a presence stretching back nearly two millennia after radical Islamists set them a midday deadline to submit to Islamic rule or leave. The ultimatum by the Islamic State drove out the few hundred Christians who had stayed on when the group's hardline Sunni Muslim fighters overran Mosul a month ago, threatening Christians and the diverse city's other religious communities. REUTERS/Stringer)

(An Iraqi Christian family fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul, arrives at the town of Qaraqush in the province of Nineveh, July 19, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

A senior Iraqi bishop urged the world to act on Sunday after Islamic hardliners drove Mosul’s Christians from the northern Iraqi city, effectively ending a presence there dating back to Christianity’s earliest years.

“The world must act, speak out, consider human rights,” Chaldean Catholic Bishop Shlemon Warduni said on Sunday, a day after a deadline expired for Christians in Mosul to submit to the rule of the radical Islamic State or die.

Hundreds of Christian families left the city ahead of the ultimatum, many of them stripped of their possessions as they fled for safety, the remnants of a community which once numbered in the tens of thousands.

“Gunmen lurking like thieves took everything from them – even women’s rings, cars, cell phones… because they are fanatics,” Warduni told Reuters by telephone from the city of Arbil, 50 miles (80 km) away in the autonomous Kurdish region.

The bishop said the solution to the crisis should be in Iraq’s own hands but the state was weak and divided, and Muslim leaders had failed to speak out.

“We haven’t heard from clerics from all sects or from the government,” he said. “The Christians are sacrificed for Iraq”.

Read the full story by Raheem Salman here.

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