Al-shabaab jihadists vow to attack Christians during Ramadan, give ‘non-believers’ a ‘true taste of jihad’

July 3, 2015 by admin  
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Al-shabaab jihadistsSomalia, June 30, 2015: The al-Shabaab terror group, which back in April murdered 152 people, mostly Christian students, have vowed to attack “non-believers” throughout the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a pledge echoing ISIS’ threats.

News 24 reported that at least 15 people were killed on Monday in clashes between al-Shabaab and Somali and African Union troops near the southern port of Kismayo, though eight Islamic militants were also killed in the battle.

AFP noted that another 80 soldiers were killed on Friday in a separate attack on the Leego base in southern Somalia, with the jihadists claiming to have brought back 60 of the bodies.

“Al-Shabaab has consistently shown its ability to strike in urban areas and regroup in rural bases. It will take much longer to defeat the group and require Somalia’s security services to be significantly improved,” Ahmed Soliman, Horn of Africa analyst at the London-based Chatham House, told the Bloomberg news.

The total death toll could still be higher, with reports that some captured troop members have been beheaded.

Earier in June, al-Shabaab’s leadership said that the terror group will be attacking non-believers, which includes Christians, throughout Ramadan.

“We are planning to give Kenyan non-believers a true taste of Jihad [the holy war] in the next few days and weeks,” a senior al-Shabaab commander said, adding that they will keep “targeting and destroying” Kenya’s education sector and business sector.”

The terror group’s attack on Garissa University College in Kenya made world news headlines back in April, when four al-Shabaab gunmen stormed the college, separated Christian from Muslim students, and murdered the Christians.

The massacre prompted the #147notjustanumber social media campaign, named after the original death toll, aimed at reminding the world that the victims were real people with real hopes and dreams that were taken away.

“I can’t even look at pictures of the people killed without crying,” 32-year-old Mary Wambui from Nakuru said at the time.

“They were just children. They were trying to make a better life for themselves. Some were first to go to college in their communities. They died trying to get an education.”

Kenya has suffered heavily from al-Shabaab’s attacks, which are often launched from the terror group’s strongholds in Somalia.

The jihadist vow to slaughter Christians and other non-Muslims throughout Ramadan has been echoed by ISIS and its affiliates.

Earlier this week, Islamic militants in Jerusalem promised to “cleanse” Israel of all Christians and non-Muslims during the holy month, accusing Christians of encouraging Muslims to abandon their religion.

“Those who work with the Zionists also encourage Muslims to leave their religion and become more secular and open, and they spread evil,” Arabic-language leaflets reportedly warned. “They take these Muslims away from us. … We know where they are, but we need help to find them all — all those Christian collaborators.”

- christian post

Islamic State fighters release elderly Christian hostage in north-eastern Syria but intense fighting displaces Christians in Aleppo

June 29, 2015 by admin  
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ISISSyria, 25 June, 2015: Four months after he was taken captive by Islamic State (IS) fighters in north-eastern Syria, 70-year-old Francois Sawa was safely released on 16 June and is in good health. In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, Christian families are fleeing their homes after horrific fighting killed at least ten people, most of them children, and injured a further 150 on 15 June.

Just a few days later, two Armenian Christian men were also tragically killed in a mortar explosion in Aleppo on 20 June. One of the men who died was a visiting pastor from Armenia who had arrived only two days earlier. “All our congregation members are in agony,” said Dr Jany Haddad, Barnabas Fund’s partner on the ground in Syria, as he relayed the news.

With fighting coming from four fronts, thousands of Christians have fled the city in terror. Local Christians told Barnabas that there are now between 45,000 and 90,000 Christians living in Aleppo, down from an estimated 465,000 in 2010. At least 30 people were killed and many others injured only in the last week in Aleppo with bombing and shelling occurring almost daily. The situation across Syria is one of extreme concern; IS forces have again attacked parts of the north-eastern city of Hassake as well as the northern city of Kobane on Thursday (25 June).

The release of Francois Sawa puts the number of those still being held at 227. One of 253 Christians abducted in IS raids against the mainly Christian villages that are clustered around the Khabur river, Francois Sawa was taken from his home village of Tel Shamiram on 23 February. Little has been heard about the situation of the Christians who remain hostage to IS. Twenty-three of the captives were released at the beginning of March and two elderly women were freed on 25 May.

Despite the fact that IS militants have been forced out of the villages in the Khabur area, the area remains unsafe. Islamists have destroyed many of the homes and churches and some have been booby-trapped. Barnabas has been helping to care for 1,200 Christian families who were forced to flee their homes after IS raided the villages.

But the situation for Christians in Syria is extremely precarious. Kidnappings such as the ones that took place in the Khabur area villages have led many Christians to decide to leave their beloved country in search of safety abroad.

Barnabas Fund is working with the Polish government, the Polish charity Esther Foundation, and local Polish churches to rescue Syrian Christians in extreme danger. Through our Operation Safe Havens, we are flying them to Poland and paying for their basic needs for one year, while Polish churches welcome them, and help them to find accommodation and jobs.

- barnabas team

The Pope to the Syriac-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch: “Yours is a Church of martyrs”

June 22, 2015 by admin  
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Pope and the Syriac-Orthodox Patriarch of AntiochVatican City, 19 June, 2015: Following a tradition established in 1971 by the Syriac-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Holiness Ignatius Jacob III and Blessed Paul VI, this morning Pope Francis received in the Vatican His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, accompanied by a Syriac-Orthodox delegation, recalling that the historic first meeting was the beginning of a “holy pilgrimage” towards full communion between the two Churches.

Francis also mentioned the Joint Declaration on the common profession of faith in the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the true God and the true man, signed in that year by the Patriarch and the Pope, which laid the foundations for a path to unity among disciples. Subsequent meetings between Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas and St. John Paul II, first in Rome and then in Damascus, represented important steps toward the concrete pastoral collaboration for the good of the faithful.

“How much has changed since those first meetings!” exclaimed the bishop of Rome. “Yours, Beatitude, has been a Church of martyrs since the very beginning, and continues to be so to this day in the Middle East, where, along with other Christian communities and other minorities, it suffers greatly as a result of war, violence and persecution. How much pain! How many innocent victims! Faced with all this, it seems that those in power seem unable to find solutions”.

“Let us pray together for the victims of this brutal violence and for all the situations of war throughout the world. In particular, let us remember the Metropolitan Gregorios Ibrahim and the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church Griega Paul Yazigi, abducted at the same time two years ago. Let us also remember the priests and the many other people, of different groups, deprived of their freedom. And let us ask of the Lord the grace always to be willing to forgive and to be builders of reconciliation and peace. This is what inspires the witness of the martyrs. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the unity of the Church and the tool for the edification of the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of peace and justice”.

“Beatitude, dear brother, in this moment of tension and pain”, concluded the Pope, “let us increasingly strengthen the bonds of friendship and fraternity between the Catholic Church and the Syriac-Orthodox Church. Let us hasten our steps on the common path, looking towards the day in which we will be able to celebrate our common belonging to Christ’s single Church around the same altar of the Sacrifice and of worship. Let us exchange the treasures of our traditions as spiritual gifts, as what unites us is far greater than what divides us”.

The Holy Father and the Patriarch then prayed together in the Redemptoris Mater chapel.

- vis

Islamic State announce seized Mosul cathedral to be named the “mosque of the mujahedeen”

June 19, 2015 by admin  
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Syriac Orthodox Cathedral Church of St EphremMosul, June 16, 2015: One year after the fall of Mosul to Islamic State (IS), militants posted notices around the captured city announcing that the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral Church of St Ephrem, seized a year ago, is to be turned into the “mosque of the mujahedeen” (jihad fighters).

Archbishop Nicodemus Daoud of Mosul broke down and wept last year as he told Barnabas about the fate of his cathedral. The jihadist flag stating, “There is no God but Allah” and “Prophet Muhammad” was draped over the building and last July the militants took down the cross from the church’s dome.

Since July, the headquarters of the IS “state council” has met in buildings on the church’s premises. And last November, IS removed all of the furniture from inside the building and sold it off. The new name was announced on the anniversary of the date the church was seized.

“If they changed a church to a mosque it is further proof of their cleansing …,” said human rights activist Nuri Kino, president of A Demand for Action, a group advocating the protection of ethno-religious minorities such as Assyrians and Yazidis in the Middle East. “They destroy our artefacts, our churches and try to erase us in any way they can.”

Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city and was traditionally the heartland of the country’s Christian presence. After Mosul fell to IS on 10 June 2014, Mosul’s Christians were issued an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay the humiliating jizya head tax, or be killed. The city is now empty of its Christians who have little hope of being able to return. Archbishop Nicodemus was last to leave, fleeing only when IS were five minutes away from his residence.

- barnabas

Sudan: Pastors facing death penalty barred from seeing lawyers, family following visit by American pastor

June 16, 2015 by admin  
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Pastor Yat Michael RuotSudan, June 10, 2015: Two Sudanese pastors who are potentially facing the death penalty after being arrested and imprisoned on trumped-up charges of alleged conspiracy and espionage, were removed from a low-security military prison and transferred to a more dangerous facility where they’ve been denied access to visitors, the pastors lawyers have said.

Revs. Peter Yen Reith and Yat Michael, who’ve been detained since the winter and charged with violating seven laws including spying, undermining the government and insulting religion, were transferred from the Omdurman Prison for Men outside of Khartoum — where they were allowed to see their families and lawyers — to Kober Prison in North Khartoum, a high-security detention center.

According to an advocacy group closely following the case, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, no one — not even their wives or lawyers — has been allowed to visit with the pastors since their transfer to Kober.

Michael and Reith, who are clergymen from the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church, had been held in Omdurman Prison since March 1 and were last seen there on June 3, the day in which they were visited by three other Sudanese pastors and American pastor the Rev. William Devlin, who was detained for over an hour and prevented from visiting with the pastors after guards caught him taking photos and video inside the prison waiting room.

Concerns were raised about the whereabouts of the pastors after family members were denied access to them on June 4, but prison officials confirmed on June 6 that the pastors were transferred.

“We are concerned by this development in the clergymen’s case. They already endured extended detention without access to their families at the beginning of this year, and they and their families should be spared further emotional distress,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.

“We urge the Sudanese authorities to ensure that the clergymen’s detention is regularised, and they are permitted regular family visits and unhindered access to their lawyers. The decision to detain them at a higher security prison should be reconsidered, given that they have not been found guilty of any crime.”

CSW believes that the Sudan National Intelligence and Security Service may have issued an order to prison officials telling them not to allow Reith and Michael to have any visitors.

The pastors’ lawyers met with Sudan’s director of prisons on June 7 and requested access to the pastors. However, they were directed to talk with the director of Kober Prison, who told the lawyers they needed a court order.

The lawyers request for a court order was denied because the court ruled that the decision should be left to the prison director.

CSW also reports that although there was no official reason given for the pastors’ not being allowed to have visitors, there is speculation that the move “may have been triggered by the actions of foreign visitors,” an implication that it may have been the result of Devlin’s visit.

Devlin, who pastors the Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx, has visited Sudan eight times in the last nine years and always stays as a guest of Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti, he told CP last week. Upon his latest visit, he was invited by the three Sudanese pastors to go with them to visit Michael and Reith in prison.

Although the last time the pastors were seen in Omdurman Prison was the day in which Devlin was detained there, Devlin told CP on Tuesday that he was told that the transfer was already being planned prior to his visit.

“A Muslim colleague in Khartoum reported to me yesterday, that the move of the two imprisoned pastors was in the works prior to my 90-minute detention on June 3,” Devlin wrote in a statement. “My detention was unintended by me. However, I pray that God would use my detention to make known the plight of these two innocent pastors.”

Devlin had previously urged American and Western pastors to travel to Sudan to visit with the pastors and prove to Sudanese government officials that religious freedom violations impact how the country is viewed by potential international trade partners. Even though the pastors have been moved to a high-security prison where they are not allowed visitors, Devlin still encourages International pastors to travel to Khartoum to make a statement and support the pastors families.

“Western pastors, African pastors, European pastors must go to Khartoum to advocate for these imprisoned pastors,” Devlin wrote. “Even if they cannot visit them, they can meet with their wives and support their wives and children financially.”

The next scheduled hearing for the pastors will take place on June 15.

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Rome’s Corpus Christi procession for persecuted Christians

June 11, 2015 by admin  
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Pope Francis Corpus ChristiRome, June 4, 2015: Persecuted Christians were remembered during Thursday’s Corpus Christi procession in Rome, where Pope Francis told the thousands taking part to walk and pray in unity with those who cannot express their faith so openly.

“Let us feel united with them: sing with them, give praise with them, worship with them,” the Roman Pontiff said in his homily for Mass said in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran June 4, celebrated just before the procession.

“As we walk along the street, we feel in communion with the many brothers and sisters who are not free to express their faith in the Lord Jesus.”

The Pope also remembered those who have been martyred for their faith.

“We venerate in our hearts those brothers and sisters who have been asked to sacrifice their lives in fidelity to Christ,” he said.

“May their blood, united to that of the Lord, be a token of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.”

During the procession for the feast of Corpus Christi, a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament was carried slowly through the streets on top a white truck, protected by two deacons and illuminated by candles.

The procession began after the evening Mass in Saint John Lateran, Rome’s cathedral, and continued to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Thousands of people took part, including many of the prelates who concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father.

Pope Francis in his homily added that this procession can also be a way of “expressing our gratitude for the journey which God has made through the desert of our poverty, to free us from servitude, nourishing us with his love through the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.”

The feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the real presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

During the Mass, Pope Francis recalled how during the Last Supper, Christ gave his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine.

“With this ‘viaticum’ over flowing with Grace, the disciples have everything they need for their long journey through history, extending God’s reign to everyone,” the Pope said.

“This Bread of Life has come down to us!” he said, adding that the never-ending awe which the Church has before of this reality fosters “contemplation, adoration, and memory.”

Pope Francis reflected a few lines taken from the Office of Readings for the feast: “eat (Christ’s Body), or you will have no part in him … drink (His Blood), lest you despair of your sinfulness.”

By not obeying the Lord’s Word, by not living together fraternally, by trying to be first, by not courageously giving witness to charity, by being unable to offer hope – in these ways, the Pope said, we separate ourselves from Christ.

The Eucharist, on the other hand, “is the bond of communion, the fulfillment of the Covenant, the living sign of Christ’s love, who was humiliated and annihilated in order that we may remain united.”

By taking part and nourishing ourselves with the Eucharist, “we are placed on a path which does not allow divisions,” he continued.

Christ’s presence among us under the appearance of bread and wine demands that “the power of love overcomes every wound,” he said. “At the same time, it becomes communion with the poor, support for the weak, and fraternal awareness for those struggling to support the weight of daily life.”

Pope Francis spoke of the “watering down” of our Christian dignity with “the idolatries of our time.” He gave several examples of this contemporary “idolatry,” including the viewing of oneself at the center of everything, arrogance, and not admitting fault.

“All of this degrades us, and makes us into mediocre, lukewarm, insipid, pagan Christians,” he said.

The Roman Pontiff also spoke of how we are transformed by the grace which comes from the shedding of Christ’s blood. “We always poor sinners, but the Blood of Christ frees us from our sins and restores our dignity,” he said.

“Although undeserving, we are able to bring with sincere humility the love of our Lord and Savior to our brethren.”

- cna

Boko Haram using children as human shields; UN condemns Jihadists as ‘Inhuman’

June 9, 2015 by admin  
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women and children Boko HaramNigeria, June 5, 2015: Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has reportedly kidnapped more than 1,000 children and used some of them in neighboring Cameroon as human shields, prompting a U.N. official to condemn its actions as “inhuman.”

“The system they use is just inhuman,” Najat Rochdi, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Cameroon, told AFP.

While the Islamic militants have killed more than 15,000 people in continuous attacks throughout Nigeria since 2009, they have also sought to expand their operations in other countries in the region, in a mission to establish an Arican Caliphate.

Boko Haram has been following in the footsteps of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, though the Nigerian army has said it has managed to drive them out of several hideouts in the past few months.

Boko Haram has also suffered heavy losses when engaging with Cameroon’s army, but has still successfully carried out a number of hit-and-run cross-border attacks, where the jihadist raid villages to steal supplies, kill people, and kidnap children.

Reports have since come out showing that Boko Haram has used some of these children as human shields, putting them on the frontline of such attacks.

“To my knowledge, the children were used as human shields … [and] were aged between eight and 12,” Rochdi said.

“The worst was the children … Obviously this created a horrible situation,” she added, noting that Cameroonian soldiers have been deeply traumatized by having to face children on the battlefield.

The humanitarian coordinator said it is not known if the kidnapped children were from Cameroon or Nigeria.

UNICEF has said that at least 743,000 children have been uprooted by the conflict in Nigeria in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa alone.

Last week the terror group slaughtered dozens of people, including scores of Christians, in a series of village raids in Nigeria.

“They destroyed the telephone mast first before invading our community — this was to prevent us from telephoning and requesting help,” said one pastor from the Pambula-Kwamda Christian community in Adamawa’s Madagali local government area.

“They killed 10 members of our church [Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, or EYN] using machetes and then slaughtering them.”

The U.N. has also said that the Islamic militants continue to use women and girls in its suicide bombing attacks.

“Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way; they are, first and foremost, victims not perpetrators,” UNICEF representative Jean Gough said.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have meanwhile documented what they say are abuses carried out by Nigeria’s military, and earlier this week accused it of the war-crime death of thousands of people by way of starvation, suffocation and torturing to death.

The 133-page report, based on hundreds of interviews, including some with military sources and exposition of leaked defense ministry documents, says that armed forces “committed countless acts of torture; hundreds, if not thousands, of Nigerians have become victims of enforced disappearance; and at least 7,000 people have died in military detention as a result of murder, starvation, extreme overcrowding and denial of medical assistance.”

Amnesty called on the government of new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that civilians in Nigeria are protected from terrorism, but at the same time said that there needs to be a crackdown on the “culture of impunity” within the army.

“This sickening evidence exposes how thousands of young men and boys have been arbitrarily arrested and deliberately killed or left to die in detention in the most horrific conditions. It provides strong grounds for investigations into the possible criminal responsibility of members of the military, including those at the highest levels,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“Whilst an urgent and impartial investigation of these war crimes is vital, this report is not just about the criminal responsibility of individuals. It is also about the responsibility of Nigeria’s leadership to act decisively to end the pervasive culture of impunity within the armed forces.”

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VOM: Egypt & Kenya

June 8, 2015 by admin  
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Egypt: Christian prisoner endures brutality

JailedIt has recently been reported that Bishoy Armia Boulous (formerly known as Mohammed Hegazy) is now enduring an overextended prison sentence with frequent assault. According to Bishoy’s present lawyer, Karam Ghobriel, jailers at Tora Prison have been beating Bishoy several times a week and ruthlessly dragging him across a concrete floor. These jailers have been humiliating Bishoy in an apparent attempt to pressure him to renounce his faith.

When authorities were initially informed that Bishoy was trying to document Christian persecution, he was sentenced to imprisonment for “spreading false information” intended to “harm the public interest.” While his one-year sentence for this charge had expired in December, he still remains in detention.

Bishoy is also awaiting trial for a blasphemy charge in connection with his attempt to change the religious status of his ID card to Christian. His lawyer has filed a formal complaint about Bishoy’s mistreatment and ongoing detention to Egypt’s attorney general, Hasham Barakat.

Kenya: Al Shabaab leaflets warn of more attacks

Al-Shabaab militantsMembers of the Somali Islamic terror group, al Shabaab, have been dropping off leaflets in various areas of Kenya warning of future attacks on Christian schools inside the country, similar to the April 2nd massacre at Garissa University College in which almost 150 people were tragically killed. Kenyan officials are presently in the process of increasing security measures and investigating the origin of the leaflets.

In the past, representatives of Al Shabaab had clearly stated that their goal is to force Kenya to cease its war on Somalia’s militants. However, in the process, this group has intentionally targeted innocent Christians, waging horrific persecution that has terrorized all the residents of eastern Kenya.

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More and bloodier wars in world: 180 thousand victims in 2014

June 2, 2015 by admin  
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WarRome, May 30, 2015: The number of deaths caused by the wars in the world grew by 60% in the last two years. The victims, totaled 180 thousand in 2014, while in 2012 there were 110 thousand. Although the number of conflicts has declined, the fighting is more violent, and often takes place in urban areas.

This is what emerges from the data published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), who stress that Syria alone in the last year has seen 70 thousand people die (200 thousand since the beginning of the conflict in 2011).

Episodes of conflict have decreased from 63 in 2008 to 42 last year. This is due to the fact that some countries at risk of civil war such as Colombia and the Philippines seem on track to reaching peaceful resolutions.

The IISS study says that the increase of the victims is caused by the “inexorable growth in the intensity of violence”, led by the jihadist wars in the Arab world, including attacks of the Islamic State in settlements as Mosul and Tikrit.

According to Nigel Inkster, Director of Studies in international threats and political risk at IISS, the most serious problem is that “conflicts occur more often in cities, and by definition therefore encourage a greater number of civilian casualties.”

According to the IISS, the Syrian conflict has caused 3.4 million refugees, 1.4 of which in the last year alone. The UN figures report that in 2013 there were more than 50 million displaced persons in the world. It is the first time that figure has been reached since the Second World War.

After Syria, the country where most people were killed in 2014 was Iraq (18 thousand), the third Mexico with clashes between rival gangs (15 thousand). In Afghanistan there were 7,500 victims; Ukraine 4.5000. Despite these numbers, Inker says that “the portrait of 2014 is inconsistent, because there are promising signs of hope for improvement, even if the levels of violence remain high.”

- asianews

‘Persecution Follows Us… We can’t run from it’: Christian monks in Iraq refuse to leave ancient monasteries despite ISIS threat.

June 1, 2015 by admin  
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ISISIraq, May 30, 2015: Holding out in one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, located in Iraq’s Northern Ninevah Plains region, three monks and a half dozen students vow to stay put despite the possibility of being overrun by ISIS fighters.

U.S. Today reports that the 1,600 year old St. Matthew’s Monastery is constantly under threat and just mere miles from the frontlines in the battle against ISIS. Many of the monks and villagers in the town fled in August of 2014 when ISIS gained more ground in the surrounding area near Mt. Alfaf, Iraq.

“We can see the battles and the airstrikes from here in front of us, especially at night,” Yousif Ibrahim said. “The sky lights up at night, but we of course are not scared. God protects us.”

St. Matthew’s is being protected by the Kurdish Peshmerga military, which is now the last line of defense for the monastery, monks, and students.

Ibrahim has vowed to stay in the region until the last Christians are driven out from Iraq. “The shepherd cannot leave his sheep,” he added.

Sahar Karaikos is one of six students at St. Matthew’s and fears for the monastery more so than for his life.

“We are not scared, because our teachers give us a feeling of peace here, but we know we are on the frontlines, and in seconds the Islamic State could be here,” Karaikos said. “I don’t even want to think or speak about the destruction the Islamic State would cause if they took our monastery.”

Karaikos added that ISIS “does not understand what history means, they just understand the breaking of history.

“If a people don’t have the history of their past,” Karaikos continued, “then they will not have a future because they won’t know what their origins are, where they came from.”

Chistians in Iraq can trace their history to the first century apostles. Prayer services at St. Matthew’s are spoken in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Many of the relics and books from the monastery, some from Christianity’s first century, have been moved to safer Kurdish areas further north in Iraq. The bones of St. Matthew, a fourth century Syriac Christian saint who founded the monastery, were moved because of the potential desecreation of the burial site by ISIS.

“Saint Matthew ended up here because he was fleeing persecution, but persecution follows us,” Karaikos said. “We can’t run from it, we have to stand in front of our history.”

In March, Iraqi rchbishop Bashar Warda stated the only way to stop the Islamic State and preserve Iraqi Christianity is by defeating them militarily. “Sometimes you take some hard measures, unfortunate measures, to deal and treat this cancer,” he told “60 Minutes.”

The Chaldean Patriarch in Iraq, Raphael Louis Sako, testified at the United Nations Security Council in New York last March: “The Islamic extremists groups refuse to live with non-Muslims.

“They are persecuting and uprooting them from their homes; and erasing all traces of their history. We are facing a cultural and ideological crisis which monopolizes power, disables institutions, and restricts freedom,” the Chaldean Patriarch asserted.

St. Matthew’s monastery, founded in 363, has survived the Ottoman and Persian Empires, Mongol invaders, and Kurdish conquests.

Nicodemus Sharaf, Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul, Iraq’s northern city now under the control of ISIS, told “60 Minutes,” “They take everything from us, but they cannot take the God from our hearts, they cannot.”

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