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Northern Iraq Christians told convert, pay or flee

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Islamic militants have threatened Christians in Iraq and warned them that they must either convert to Islam, pay a tax, or flee insurgent areas.

The Journal notes, "Insurgents from the group that calls itself Islamic State made the threat Thursday night over mosque loudspeakers and from cars driving through city streets, residents said. They reiterated the declaration in a flier distributed to worshipers who attended Friday prayers."

Breitbart says that Patriarch Louis Sako told AFP "Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians."

The Telegraph notes that, "Iraq is home to one of the world's most ancient Christian communities, but their numbers have plummeted as attacks against them mounted after the US-led invasion in 2003, which unleashed a wave of sectarian violence."

According to Yahoo, "The Islamic State group running Mosul had already demanded that those Christians still in the city convert, pay a special tax or leave but messages blaring on mosques' loudspeakers appeared to spark an exodus."

Christianity first came to Iraq in the 1st Century through the ministry of the Apostle Thomas and the Apostle Thaddeus, called by Christ among his twelve disciples. The Christian communities there are considered to be among the oldest in the world.

Christianity Today reports that earlier this month, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) destroyed churches, monasteries and statues and are believed to have taken a sledgehammer to the grave of the Biblical prophet Johah in Nineveh.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
- Jonah 1:2 (NASB)