As Iraq's Christians continue fleeing the city of Mosul and other regions following a "convert or die" ultimatum by Islamic militants ISIS, persecution watchdog group Open Doors said that the "unprecedented" forced exodus has left Christianity in the Middle East near extinction.
"The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times," Dr. David Curry, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, said in a statement on Monday. "This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it's likely nothing else can."
ISIS, which has taken control of Mosul and other parts of Iraq, gave Christians until midday Saturday to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed. Thousands of Christians have subsequently fled the region, with some seeking refuge at camps in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. more >>
New York City pastor William Devlin has traveled to Khartoum in Sudan where he has met Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim and offered to help bring and take care of her and her family in the United States.
"The Devlin family has offered to bring this family back to the USA from Khartoum and have them live with us. I have been interviewed by the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. and I have also met for three hours with the U.S. Ambassador to Sudan here in Khartoum – and his senior staff," Devlin said in an email to The Christian Post on Sunday.
"Furthermore, because of my long term friendship with the Foreign Minister of Sudan, I have met personally with him and asked him to advocate for this family – and have the Sudanese authorities release this family to me to bring them back to U.S.. I have offered to pay for their flights (the four of them) to America and to house them indefinitely in our home – and to provide for their needs." more >>
Thousands of Christians are fleeing northern Iraq and communities they have lived in for almost 2,000 years following militant group ISIS' ultimatum last week that they convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed for their faith.
"In my opinion this is a very grave situation. No Western leader is moving to stop such a tragedy but they offer only empty words with no actions," Dr. Munir S. Kakish, Chairman Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, told The Christian Post in an email on Sunday. "ISIS must be stopped before it wipes out Christians from other areas." The Independent noted that ISIS, which has taken control of the city of Mosul and much of the surrounding region, gave Christians until midday on Saturday to comply. The militants have declared the establishment of an "Islamic state" on the territory of Iraq and Syria, where they have also been active.
"We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword," an ISIS statement was read out at Mosul's mosques, BBC News reported. more >>
An atheist group is encouraging those opposed to the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling to crochet or knit rectangular pieces of fabric, meant to represent bricks, and send them into the organization's national office in Washington, D.C.
The Secular Coalition for America launched its "knit-a-brick" campaign earlier in July, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision that corporations may refuse to provide birth control insurance coverage to its employees based on strongly-held religious beliefs. The atheist group plans to collect the "bricks" built by its supporters and sew a giant "wall" to symbolize the Separation of Church and State that it believes has been violated by the recent Supreme Court ruling.
The atheist group said on its website that it started the "knit-a-brick" campaign earlier this month to "harness outrage" following the Supreme Court ruling, as well as "create a striking visual impact for lawmakers and speak directly to Hobby Lobby's consumer base with the Knit a Brick campaign." more >>
The lawsuit brought by Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim's Islamic relatives in Sudan has been dropped, a lawyer working on the case said, which could open the way for Ibrahim and her family to soon travel to the United States.
"We are no longer proceeding with the lawsuit," Abdel Rahman Malek, the relatives' lawyer, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Malek did not provide a reason for dropping the lawsuit. more >>
The government of Sudan has reaffirmed that it is banning the construction of all new Christian churches in the Muslim-dominated country, prompting "deep concern" from a persecution watchdog group.
"We are deeply concerned by Minister Shalil Abdullah's statement reaffirming the policy to deny new church permits. This policy, and the continued practice of demolishing and confiscating church land, constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of religion or belief, guaranteed in article 6 and 38 of Sudan's Interim Constitution as well as article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sudan is signatory," Andy Dipper, Chief Operating Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Abdullah, the Sudanese Minister for Guidance and Religious Endowments, reportedly explained that due to the country's separation from South Sudan, where many Christians have fled, the existing churches in the Republic of Sudan are sufficient for the nation's minority Christians. more >>