Seven years of harassment and attacks by Muslims have finally forced a Palestinian church in East Jerusalem out of their building, church leaders said. The congregation of Calvary Baptist Church, under Holy Land Missions, moved out of their building in the Shofat area of Jerusalem in July after Islamists threatened their landlord. They are looking for a safe, permanent place to meet.
Morning Star News (h/t Susan K) Pastor Steven Khoury said he was emotionally torn when he handed over the keys. The persecution was difficult but had also been a catalyst for spiritual development, he said. “It was very emotional, because a lot of our people really started to grow there,” he said. “Most of the growth happened in Shofat because of the persecution.”
The persecution started almost immediately after the congregation moved into the building in a predominantly Muslim area in 2007. Within 10 days of starting meetings and worship services, a Muslim who lived close to the church building attacked a member with a knife. Then someone tried to set the building on fire, likely with a Molotov cocktail, Khoury said. “It only burned a few of our playground sets and didn’t reach the building,” he said.
This sign in Bethlehem greets Christian worshippers coming to visit their Christian holy sites.
Next came the vandalism – first cars parked at the church building were damaged, then the property, and finally there were physical attacks on children coming to church gatherings. “These were all spread out over a two- or three-year period, to let us know that we were not welcome there,” Khoury said.
When the local government accepted a request in late 2008 to put up a road sign identifying the location of the church building, things “really escalated,” Khoury said. “When we did that, it took everything to the next level. The landlords were now being threatened. The landlords were being told, ‘How dare you do this, this is a disgrace to Islam. If you don’t do anything about this, we will.’”
Eventually the landlord succumbed to the pressure, and the 110-member congregation had to leave the building. The departure last month was not the first time Muslims angry about their activities have forced the Jerusalem congregation to leave a building they were using for ministry. It has happened twice before.
In 2006, Holy Land Missions had to leave a building in the Beit Hanina area of East Jerusalem, which, like Shofat, is a Muslim-majority area. In 2004, when the group rented the building, church vehicles were vandalized, a sign identifying the church was torn down twice and the building was subjected to repeated vandalism and break-ins, Khoury said. By comparison, Khoury doesn’t remember any other building near the church property being vandalized.
Church administrator Hany Khayo said persecution has been constant “I have been here since 2004, and every day we have a story,” Khayo said. “[They persecute us] because we believe in one God, because we believe that Jesus is our Lord and we ask everyone to have God’s love,” Khayo said.
Eventually the landlord of the Beit Hanina building began receiving threats from his fellow Muslims, and the church had to leave after only two years.
Iraqi Christians are desperate to leave Iraq, where they are being threatened with death if they refuse to convert to Islam. France and Australia have opened their doors to these Christians. America has not.
More than half of Iraq’s Christians have fled their country since the start of the war. Many of them are still not returning home because of sectarian violence targeting Christians. The last official Iraqi census in 1987 showed almost 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Now, a U.S. State Department report says that number may have dropped to close to one third of that at 500,000. Many Iraqi Christians have now settled in Jordan.
In Paris, front French and foreign journalists, a family of 5 members, came from the Mosul area, testified yesterday in a room of the town hall of the 16th district of the atrocities committed by the jihadists of the State Islamic in the Nineveh Plain pushing to drain hundreds of thousands of Christians and Yazidis.
Tunisia Daily The head of the family, Nabil Younan, has told that, among other barbarities, terrorists of the Islamic State auctioned in a public square in Mosul, there are only three days, 700 women yazidies average price of 150 dollars per slave. “This is happening in full sight of the international community,” he said, before launching a poignant call to the world that immediate action to prevent such acts to continue.
They rob Christians:
Other evidence has been heard, including that of RP Amir Geagea, Dominican superior in Baghdad, and the father Dominican Hanna Anis, contacted by telephone and interviewed duplex by the audience. They confirmed the evidence already published in our columns, citing among other dams established by IR outputs of Mosul to the Islamists can strip the Christians. “Until women rings and bracelets and necklaces for children,” he said, citing the passage abandonment by Kurdish peshmerga their positions in Christian villages of Nineveh. “It was like they invited the killers of IE to occupy our towns,” said one of the speakers who questioned the usefulness of sending French arms to the Kurds. In this regard, a stakeholders Chredo recalled that this abandonment peshmerga occurred almost immediately after the telephone conversation between French President Francois Hollande and Kurdish Barzani, the first promising French weapons in the second, at the same time that ‘humanitarian assistance to displaced Yazidis. Reports The East Day in its issue of August 15.
Adult circumcisions mass Christians! Contacted by telephone, other witnesses reported that the Islamic state has ordered the circumcision of Christian children or adults who remained in Mosul. Mass circumcisions were organized by the hordes of EI, adult Christians were circumcised without anesthesia.
AINA Assyrians leaders in Iraq and in the Diaspora, as well as the Vatican, NGOs and concerned citizens, are calling for military intervention in Iraq to save Assyrians and Yazidis from the ongoing genocide by ISIS. Since capturing Mosul on June 10 ISIS has driven 200,000 Assyrians and 150,000 Yazidis from their homes, killed thousands of Yazidis and Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs), destroyed all churches in Mosul and looted and plundered entire towns and villages that were abandoned by the fleeing Assyrians and Yazidis.
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako has called for military intervention. In a statement issued on August 10 the Patriarch says:
To summarize the situation of the Christian villages around Mosul up to the borders of Kurdistan Region: the churches are deserted and desecrated; five bishops are out of their bishoprics, the priests and nuns left their missions and institutions leaving everything behind, the families have fled with their children abandoning everything else! The level of disaster is extreme.The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain.
Since capturing Mosul on June 10, ISIS has moved into the Nineveh Plain, attacking Assyrians, Yazidis, Shabaks and Turkmen, destroying religious institutions and killing thousands.
- There are no Assyrians/Christians remaining in Mosul, all have fled to the north, to Alqosh, Dohuk and other Assyrian villages.
- All Christian institutions in Mosul (churches, monasteries and cemeteries), numbering 45, have been destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered (story).
- All non-Sunni Muslim groups in Mosul — Shabaks, Yazidis and Turkmen — have been targeted by ISIS. Most have fled.
- Water and electricity have been cut off by ISIS. The water shortage in the areas surrounding Mosul is now a full-blown crisis. Residents have been forced to dig wells for drinking water. Water tankers are providing some relief.
- Mosul is now governed under Sharia law.
- 200,000 Assyrian have fled from Baghdede (Qaraqosh), Bartella, Karamles and dozens of Assyrian villages and towns in the Nineveh Plain north of Mosul.
- 150,000 Yazidis have fled from Sinjar and Zumar. 40,000 trapped on Shingal mountain. Thousands have died from exposure. Thousands have been killed by ISIS.
The Assyrian Universal Alliance, a worldwide umbrella organization, issued the following statement through its Deputy Secretary General in Australia, Hermiz Shahen:
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Assyrians are currently displaced and forced out of their homes and towns. Women, children and the elderly have left their homes and are continually on the move-from city to city, village to village, seeking safety. We are informed by our representatives in the region that the situation continues to go from bad to worse; people are living in great fear and confusion, without any hope for a brighter and better future. Jihadists moved in overnight to claim several Christian towns, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee, having pushed back Kurdish Peshmerga troops, who are stretched thin across several fronts in Iraq.
Towns of Baghdede (Qaraqosh), Tel Kepe, Bartella, Alqoosh and Karamles have been emptied of their original inhabitants and are now under the control of the militants. As many as 40,000 people from Iraq’s religious minority groups are stranded on Mount Sinjar after seizure of their city by the Islamic State; most of them are members of the Yazidi community.
Accordingly, We call on the International community and the UN Security Council, to support resolutely for military action in Iraq to protect Assyrian Christians and other religious minorities from persecution by brutal Islamic Jihadists.
Thousands of people were forced to flee Kirkuk as the city was left in ruins after an ISIS bombardment on Thursday. Kirkuk was targeted by ISIS militants with the purpose of strengthening their foothold around the Kurdish autonomous region.
ISIS militants are currently extending their control over northern Iraq, looking to seize areas where religious minorities such as Christians and Yezidis have traditionally been established.