A 12-year-old Christian girl was burned to death in her own home by ISIS militants when her family failed to pay a religious tax on time. With her dying words she urged her mother to forgive ISIS for the atrocity they committed. The story of this family is becoming all too common in Iraq, which has recently been deemed the second most dangerous place in the world for Christians.
The incident reportedly took place when they failed to pay a Jaziya. A Jaziya is a “religious tax” imposed on all non-muslims living in ISIS controlled territories. The woman and her daughter were living in Mosul, northern Iraq, when two “foreign” ISIS terrorists appeared at her door. According to Jacqueline Isaac, a human rights advocate, the family was given two options:
“you are to leave now or you are to pay the Jaziya”
The woman complied and told the militants she would pay but would need a “few seconds”, as her daughter was in the shower. The militants reportedly refused to wait and set fire to the building with the woman’s young daughter still inside.
Both the 12-year-old and her mother were able to escape the burning building. The woman and her daughter were rushed to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately, the daughter would eventually die due to fourth degree burns sustained during the escape. The woman held the girl in her arms as she died. With her last words she asked her mother to “‘Forgive them.”
A leading Cleric in Baghdad fears that incidents like these will lead to Iraq’s Christian population completely disappearing in the next five years. The threat of being attack by ISIS has made Iraq the second most dangerous place on the planet for Christians and religious leaders are now advising Christians in the area to flee.
Father Martin Hermis Dawood has been advising Christians in his congregation to flee if they feel threatened by ISIS. This is a stark contrast to his opinion just two years ago, when he advised his followers to remain strong under threats from other radical Islam groups. He claims that ISIS jihadists take their frustrations out on Christians in the area. He stated:
“We are in the middle, we have seen it. When newspapers published cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed, it was in Europe, but gangs tried to assault Christians here. Something happened in Belgium or in Holland, I paid here.”
Dawood isn’t the only Christian religious official advocating a self-imposed migration for their protection. Iraqi Christian leaders estimate the total number of Chaldean Catholics, Syrian Orthodox and members of the eastern Assyrian church – the main Christian denominations in the country – dropped from 1.3 million in 1996 to just 400,000 today. According to Dawood, the chances of the climate become more Christian-friendly in the near future is extremely unlikely. He said:
“We know very well that not every Muslim here is a terrorist, but there is a culture rising, not only here in Iraq, but in the Middle East. There’s a struggle happening in the whole world and we will be burned in this fire in the future.”