France offers asylum to Iraqi Mosul Christians

Iraqi Christians forced out of their city after a serious death threat from Islamic militant fanatics have been offered asylum by the Government of France.

The Christian community of Mosul, considered one of the oldest in the world, fled the country’s second largest city on 19 July after the Islamic State Group (IS) formerly known as ISIS told them to either become Muslims, pay a protection tax – or die. A logo of ‘N’ for Nazarene was daubed on the doors of the homes of Christians by the terror group.

Most of the community of  35,000 left the city that day including children, the disabled and the elderly. Read earlier news article. Just 20 families now remain in Mosul, says the UN, which has been declared capital of the Islamic State by the militants who have previously crucified people including Christians in Syria, according to The Telegraph and other news sources.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Bernard Cazeneuve, Interior Minister, issued a joint statement on behalf of the French Socialist Government about the plight of the Mosul Christians.

The statement read: “France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness. We are ready, if they so desire, to help facilitate asylum on our territory.

“The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by IS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that militant groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region.”

Some 5,000 French people gathered in a rally outside Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral to show support for Iraqi Christians on 27 July. A similar event happened in Lyons, reports France 24 with two French catholic bishops announcing they would travel to Mosul this week to support the remaining Christian families.

Meanwhile Baroness Berridge, chair of the APPG on Religious Freedom or Belief, has tabled a written question to the British Government asking if the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme will be extended to include Iraqi refugees fleeing religious persecution.

Hundreds of Muslims and Christians in Baghdad held a rally in public on 27 July to express solidarity with the Mosul Christian community. Muslims have also been targeted by the IS militants. Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad, told BBC Radio Four last weekend that people from his church, which includes Muslims as well as Christians, are disappearing. He said the IS group was bringing the ‘end of Christianity’ very near in Iraq.

“We have had people massacred,” he added. “Their heads chopped off.”

Catholic Online has published a graphic online report showing photos of Christians from the region including a little girl who have been beheaded by the IS group extremists.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Kurds have been fighting back against the extremists. Read the story here.