Ancient Christian Communities In Middle East Could Be Eradicated, Says Author

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Iraqi Christian look on during mass in the St. Joseph Chaldean church on the opening day in Kirkuk, on October 31, 2014. St. Joseph Chaldean church was reopened after 11 years, and participating in the opening were dozens of Christians, including those displaced from Mosul, the largest city in the north and the first areas that fell following the onslaught of the Islamic State (IS) group. AFP PHOTO/ MARWAN IBRAHIM (Photo credit should read MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)
The Islamic State targets adherents of any religion outside its radical version of Sunni Islam, and the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East and North Africa are no exception.

With territory spanning Iraq and Syria, in addition to affiliates from Nigeria to Afghanistan, the Islamic State has clearly stated its aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate and imposing Sharia law.

In Iraq, militants notoriously targeted Christians in Mosul, giving residents three options. Either they could pay a tax, flee or convert to Islam. Christian homes and businesses were marked with the first letter of an Arabic-language, derogatory term for Christians. But the letter soon became a symbol of solidarity with persecuted Christians online.

Syrian Christians are caught amid battles between the Bashar al-Assad regime, rebel groups and jihadi organizations like Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. In Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, hundreds of Syrian Christians were kidnapped by Islamic State militants earlier this year.