Following reports of violence against Christians and destruction of churches in Mosul, Iraq by the Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS), as well as reports that the organization is forcing Christians to either convert or pay the jizya poll tax and expelling them wholesale from the city while stealing their property, the Arab press has published statements and articles condemning these actions.
In a scathing July 24, 2014 editorial on the issue, the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi stated that the targeting in Mosul of Christians, who have been part of the history and culture of Iraq for centuries, is the most extensive ethnic cleansing of modern times, and a black mark upon the reputation of Islam and the Muslims. The paper went on to call on moderate Muslims to condemn these terrible actions of the "cancerous" and "terrorist" IS, lest they become complicit in a crime against humanity. It also urged them to denounce extremist fatwas, such as the one by Sudanese cleric Muhammad Al-Jazouli, who cited a hadith permitting the killing of "infidel" men, women and children. The paper mentioned that this fatwa was widely published by MEMRI (view this clip on MEMRI TV here). It should be noted that, although the newspaper called this hadith "false" and "unreliable," it actually appears in the Abu Dawud collection and is considered authentic.
Egyptian sociologist and human rights activist Sa’d Al-Din Ibrahim wrote in his weekly column for the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm that the IS’s barbaric, racist and murderous treatment of Christians, unprecedented in the history of the Arab East, is reminiscent of the Nazis and Tatars, and does great harm to Islam. He called upon the Arab League to condemn the IS's actions.
Columnist Ahmad Al-Sarraf used a scathingly sarcastic tone to express his outrage. In his column in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, he told the Christians to leave the Arab lands, because the Arabs no longer have any use for progress, civilization, tolerance or coexistence, but only for backwardness, fanaticism and violence.
An article by journalist Suleiman Gouda in the English-language edition of the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, focused on criticism of the U.S. While likewise calling the IS's treatment of Christians a crime against humanity, Gouda pointed out that the majority of Mosul's Christians actually left the city during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and the IS merely finished the job. He asked, "What is the difference, then, between ISIS and U.S. President Barack Obama[?]"
The following are excerpts from the articles:
'Al-Quds Al-Arabi': "We Haven't Heard One Single Voice In The Camp Of Moderate Islam Condemning" These Actions
The editorial in Al-Quds Al-Arabi said: "Last week, [Louis] Sako, the honorable patriarch of the [Chaldean Catholic] Church in Iraq, called on all those with a conscience, in Iraq and in the world – and particularly on moderate Muslims – to rescue Mosul's Christians from persecution and expulsion at the hands of the so-called ISIS, and warned that Iraq was on the verge of a 'humanitarian, historic, and cultural crisis.'
"Aside from a few expressions of solidarity here and there, the world has not lifted a finger – either to prevent this crime or to offer humanitarian aid to the thousands of families who have found themselves homeless after being forced out of their city with [nothing but] the clothes on their backs, and with no possessions, and with their homes having become the property of ISIS.
"It did not help for Father Sako to remind Muslims that the Christians, 'especially in the Mashriq [the countries to the east of Egypt], have shared good and bad [with Muslims] since the emergence of Islam, and their blood has mixed [with the blood of Muslims] in defending their rights and lands, and together they built a culture, cities, and a heritage.'
"[Muslims] did not heed his warning that the actions of ISIS 'would harm Muslims and the image of Islam in everything pertaining to coexistence with other religions and peoples in the East and West, respecting their beliefs, and living with them in brotherhood.' [Muslims] were not shocked by his latest cry that 'Christians must not be rejected, expelled, and eradicated.'
"Thus, Mosul was emptied of Christians for the first time in 1,500 years, when ISIS expelled some 30,000 [sic] Christian Iraqi citizens from their homes, their city, their memories, and their history – which are an authentic part of the history and roots of [Iraqi Muslim] culture.
"In 2003, Iraq had some 1.4 million Christians; today only 500,000 remain, [following] one of the largest ethnic cleansings of modern times. This is a sad day in the history of human civilization – but for the history of Islam, it is a catastrophe, because this crime is being committed in its name.
"All we have to do to understand the high price that Muslims pay on all levels [for such actions] is to see how Westerners snatch up [such reports on] ISIS's conquests, invasions, and despicable actions, and share them on social media in order to tarnish the image of Islam.
"We haven't heard one single voice in the camp of moderate Islam condemning taking women prisoner or expropriating peaceful citizens' property and money for ISIS in Mosul, or any who distanced themselves from the shocking fatwas that seem to be carefully formulated for [maximum] service to the enemy. For example, there was a fatwa, widely publicized and translated by the Zionist media research institute MEMRI, by an ISIS sheikh claiming that 'Islam does not distinguish between the killing of men, women, and children in war.' [This sheikh] relied on a false hadith that he attributed to the Prophet [Muhammad] in response to a question by a man named 'bin Jathama.'
"What these terrorists did in Mosul threatens not only Christians or Iraq; it is a warning about the [possibility of the] elimination of all the region's ethnic and religious minorities. This does not mean that the Sunni majority will escape the dangers of terrorism; on the contrary – Sunnis will split along the lines of their schools of thought, their beliefs, or their actions, and they too will join the victims of 'the takfir machine in the ISIS era.'
"Therefore, an Arab position that attempts to downplay the dangers of the cancerous spread of terrorist organizations in the region... in order to serve political agendas will actually be an accessory to the crimes against humanity, and will morally legitimize criminals who have lost any vestige of their humanity.
"The catastrophe of the Christians in Mosul has revealed the hypocrisy of the West, which raises a ruckus when freedom of thought is at risk in some Arab countries [but] ignores the barbaric uprooting of a culture from its land in Iraq. Even after Christian leaders were compelled to explicitly ask for international intervention against ISIS this [indifference remains] the case – as if that would protect the West from danger [from ISIS] in the future.
"[The treatment] of Mosul's Christians, who have been partners in the enlightenment throughout the history of human civilization since it began, has become the cornerstone of the 'Dark Ages of ISIS.' Shame on all those who [disregard what is happening to the Christians while] pretending to belong to human civilization – or to any of the monotheistic religions."
Egyptian Human Right Activist Sa'd Al-Din Ibrahim: IS's Treatment Of Iraq's Christians Is "Neo-Nazi"
Egyptian sociologist and human right activist S'ad Al-Din Ibrahim wrote in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm: "There is no more accurate description for those who call themselves ISIS... than 'neo-Nazis' or 'neo-Tatars', for they are racist like the Nazis and murderous barbarians like the Tatars. They are harming Islam more than anyone has harmed it in the past 1,400 years, i.e. during the entire history of the Muslims since the beginning of Muhammad's mission in the seventh century…
"What I address in this article, and what should concern all Arabs and Muslims who care about their ummah, and their religion's reputation, is what [IS leader] Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is doing to members of the smallest and weakest community in Iraq – the Christian community, which constitutes less than a tenth of Iraq's total population. Dating back to the first century CE, [this community] was never subjected to persecution or the threat of mass extermination [before now]. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi gave them two days to [either] embrace Islam, leave without any of their property, or be killed and wiped out. Had Islam's greatest enemies wanted to harm its [reputation] amongst all of mankind, they would not have succeeded like this savage, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, has succeeded.
“The Christians in the East, including the Christians of Iraq, played remarkable roles in the course of Christianity's 2,000-year existence. Some were ministers, governors and physicians in the early Islamic period, in the Umayyad and 'Abbasid states and throughout the 500 years of the Ottoman Empire…
“The current tragedy of the Christians in Iraq is the most ugly and painful [tragedy], because it is a chapter that has [sparked] uproar, following a series of chapters of silent [suffering] for the Christians in the Arab East. Their numbers began declining in the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. In the uprisings and revolutions that occurred in the region [in that period], the ethnic minorities, and the Christian minority in particular, became scapegoats. The tyrannical rulers often directed the anger of the peoples, whom they oppressed, at some minority or another, in order to cover up their failures or defeats, and accused the minorities of being responsible for every misfortune or disaster. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who is rebelling against the Iraqi regime, has also turned to that unfortunate method. When his victories ceased, he channeled his supporters' wrath at a weak target – the Christians in the cities of northern Iraq...
The Arab League should issue an urgent call to express solidarity with the Christians of Iraq, and open the gates of temporary asylum to them until the ISIS nightmare passes, as previous nightmares have passed…"
Columnist In Kuwaiti Daily: "Go, Christians... And Leave Us [Muslims] To Our Fanaticism, Hostility And Hatred"
In a sarcastic column in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas, Ahmad Al-Sarraf wrote: "O Christians of Damascus, Yabrud and Ma'loula [in Syria], leave our [Arab] homeland! O Christians of Mosul, Ninveh and Baghdad [in Iraq], leave our cities! O Christians of Lebanon, leave our mountains and valleys! O Christians of Palestine, leave our shores and our lands! Get out of our hair! Go, all of you! We hate you and do not want to see you among us. Go! We are tired of progress, civilization, openness, tolerance, love, brotherhood, coexistence and leniency. Leave, so we [Muslims] can turn to killing each other.
"Leave, we have nothing in common. Go! We are tired of [hearing that] you were the original [inhabitants] of Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Palestine. Leave, so we do not have to feel ashamed every time our eyes meet your eyes, that are wondering what is going on. Go and leave us to our catastrophes. There are those who will welcome you with open arms. We [Muslims] will remain here, far away from you, from your pretentions, your talent and efficiency, your knowledge and experience. Go and leave us to our [religious] fanaticism, hostility and hatred. Leave, we can no longer stomach what you purport to call culture. Once you leave, we will turn to end it, erase all trace of it, and shatter all its idols... the archeological [remains], poetry, prose and literature that your forefathers left behind. Leave! Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Palestine, Jordan and North Africa do not need you, [just as they did not] need the Gypsies and Jews that lived among us before you. Go, leave, and take compassion with you. After [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the other [Muslim] Brotherhood gangs... we no longer need compassion or solidarity. Blood will flow, violence will spread, hearts will be ripped asunder, guts will be spilled, tongues will be cut out, throats will be slit and knees will be shattered, and we will return to ancient herbal medicine, to ancient texts, and to divining our fortune by drawing [lines] in the sands of the beach.
"Go, Christians, and take with you the bodies of [renowned Christian Arab writers and thinkers] Jubran Jubran [i.e., Khalil Gibran], Sargon Boulus, Badawi Al-Jabal, Anastas Al-Karmali, Yousuf Al-Sayegh, Sa'di Al-Malih, the brothers [Bishara and Salim] Taqla, [Nasif] al-Yaziji, [Boutros] Al-Bustani, and Al-Akhtal Al-Saghir [aka 'Abdallah Al-Khouri]. Take with you all your universities and hospitals and close down your missions. We don't need even [Lebanese poet, writer and playwright] Mikhail Na'ima, and don't forget [Lebanese-Palestinian poet] May Ziade... None of these people have anything to do with us.
"Yes, leave us, we want to go back to our deserts. We miss our swords, our dunes and our beasts of burden, and we do not need you or your civilization, or your contribution to the [Arabic] language and poetry. We do not need you anymore, for we have [terror] organizations, murderers and spillers of blood. O Christians, leave us along with your culture, for we have already replaced it with the culture of digging graves."
'Al-Sharq Al-Awsat' Article: "Why Were Half [Of Mosul's Christians] Forced Out While The Americans Were Occupying The Country?";"What Is The Difference... Between ISIS And U.S. President Barack Obama[?]"
An article by columnist Suleiman Gouda in the English-language edition of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat stated: "It is hard to find the words to describe the recent events in Mosul, in northern Iraq, and I can only turn to the words of Nabil Elaraby, the secretary-general of the Arab League, who said that what happened was a disgrace that must never be tolerated and a crime against Iraq and its history, against Arab and Islamic countries, and against all Muslims.
"The statement of the Arab League chief came in response to reports last week that Mosul had been totally emptied of Christians for the first time in its entire history after they were expelled at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"Mosul had previously, in fact throughout history, been a land that accommodated Muslims and Christians together, alongside people of other religions, as long as the ground they all shared was citizenship, in its true sense.
"Citizenship means living in a country, holding its nationality and belonging to its land, living and dying for it regardless of your religion or what you believe, because that is between the believer and God alone. That is something in which no one should interfere."
"Mosul is empty of its Christian citizens at the hands of an organization whose members have long beards and move among Iraqis saying God said this and the Prophet said that. But if any one of them bothered to explore what God said in His Koran, and what the Prophet said in his true, indisputable hadiths, none of them would find a single letter that allowed the expulsion of a citizen from their land under any circumstances, and for no other reason than believing in a holy book other than the Koran.
"Mosul is emptied of its 50,000 Christian citizens, according to Bashar Al-Kiki, head of the Nineveh Governorate Council. He said there were many Christians in the city in 2003, but 30,000 of them had since left – and now the appearance of ISIS has resulted in the remainder leaving too.
"You may have noticed that 2003 was the year of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and that 30,000 people were forced out of their homes in Mosul during the American occupation, while the administration in Washington talked endlessly about human rights. And if you looked for any substance on the ground for this talk about human rights by the White House, you would be shocked by the reports from Mosul, which put the bare facts before you in their simplest form.
"These departures beg the question whether there is actually any difference in the consequences of actions by the White House and those of an organization that has gone beyond even the limits of other fellow extremists. There seems to be no difference at all, otherwise why were half the Christian citizens of Mosul forced out while the Americans were occupying the country, and then for the other half to be forced out at the hands of ISIS?
"What is the difference then, between ISIS and U.S. President Barack Obama in his White House, with all the values we presumed he stood for – values set by the Founding Fathers of the American state, values which include man’s absolute right to freedom of belief, whatever their belief and whatever their conviction, and whatever the faith they keep within their heart?"
"Mosul is emptied of its Christian citizens for the first time in history, and we hear not a word, not a whisper, from the U.S. administration, which says all that needs to be said: that this was a crime in every meaning of the word, against people who committed no sin other than taking up Christianity as their religion.
"Mosul has been emptied of its Christian citizens twice, once at the hands of the Americans and another at the hands of ISIS, and we hear nothing from the U.S. other than silence, just as it kept silent when many Copts left Egypt during the one-year rule of the Muslim Brotherhood – though the Americans used to raise hell when just one Copt was subjected to the most minor harm during the days of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
"All this clearly demonstrates that the situation of the Christians in the region as a whole, and the Copts in Egypt specifically, does not concern the U.S. administration at all, except in so far as how it can be used as a tool towards achieving specific U.S. interests.
"Mosul is emptied of its Christian citizens, and a day is coming when people will say a U.S. president called Obama was in his Oval office while Copts were forced to leave Egypt during the Brotherhood’s rule, that Iraqi Christians were also forced to leave their homes during his term – when he pretended he was deaf, and when he was addressed about the issue, he heard nothing.
"Mosul is emptied of its Christians, just as Egypt was almost emptied of its Copts before it, at the hands of people who talk to you every morning, alas, about what God said and what His revered Prophet said, despite the fact that the expulsion in both cases had nothing to do with the Koran or its teachings, nor with the hadiths of the Prophet. Whenever a Jew’s funeral went by, the Prophet stood up in a show of respect, because he was human, just a man and nothing more – and this alone was more than enough for the Prophet, peace be upon him."