EXCLUSIVE – ISIS persecutes religious communities in Syria and Iraq

SHAFAQNA – As waves upon waves of refugees continue to pour into Europe in a desperate attempt to flee war and persecutions by the hands of ISIS radicals, religious community leaders have joined together to denounce the organized eradication of Syria’s religious and cultural heritage.
“Christians not just in their hundreds but tens of thousands have fled Syria and Iraq in the face if unprecedented persecution and pressure. ISIS militants are laying waste the history of a people,” warned Mike Gore of Open Door Australia, an NGO focused on assisting refugees.

Todd Daniels, a regional manager for the Middle East brance of International Christian Concern told Shafaqna over the phone to which extent ISIS is working to annihilate both Syria and Iraq’s religious identity, by setting communities against each other.

“The degree and extent of ISIS attacks against religious minorities is more than troublesome. We are witnessing a religious cleansing of the likes the world has never seen. We ought to stand together and act together to confront this evil,” Daniels said.

But if ISIS is actively breaking up centuries of religious harmony and tolerance, Syrians and Iraqis are fighting back, determined to protect their history.
Faced by the same evil, Christians and Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria have chosen to unite in popular committees to protect each other together. “There is power in unity! We all have a right to follow the faith of our chosing. God teached us to be compassionate towards others  … Being Muslim also mean acting a barrier against evil and this is exactly what we intend to do,” said Abu Abbas in Iraq.
“Shia Muslims understand persecution better than anyone … Our Imams have been systematically killed and our communities have been targeted. We know only too well what intolerance can do to people and so we will continue to oppose it and defend our values.”

“It is not just the past that is being lost, but the future as well as an entire generation is growing up displaced by this conflict. We strongly support the call for an end to the hostilities in such a way that creates a Syria where all of its citizens – including Christians – are able to freely live and carry out their faith. We urge world leaders to act quickly, and decisively to make this a reality,” added Daniels.

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