Just days after radical extremists in Iraq completely purged the city of Mosul of its Christian population — a minority group that lived there for nearly 2,000 years — the leader of the Syriac Catholic Church is pleading with "the civilized world" to take action to stop what he described as "religious genocide."
His Beatitude Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan, overseer of Assyrian Christians around the globe, appeared on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel Wednesday, telling host Fr. Jonathan Morris that Mosul's Christian population is in desperate need of prayer and assistance, but that many in the West have turned a blind eye to their plight.
“We are so saddened that the civilized world doesn’t really care,” Younan said. “Surely there are other dramatic problems — wars around us in the Middle East… Gaza or Syria but here it’s … genocide … just because they are Christians.”
Iraqis holds up a banner with the red letter 'N' in Arabic, which stands for Christian, during a demonstration on July 24, 2014, against the threat imposed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadists against Christians in northern Iraq, outside the UN office in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region. (AFP PHOTO/SAFIN HAMED)
Younan called on the world to help Christians who have been sent into exile by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an extremist group that has taken control of Mosul and other nearby regions, return to their homes and businesses.
He said that, for the first time in nearly two thousand years, the city will be devoid of Christians and pleaded with the audience to speak out about the mass atrocities coming out of the region.
“We have to stand up for the cause of the Lord Jesus who is the prince of peace of love,” Younan said. “We have to stand up and tell those who represent us to be faithful to the principles on which [America] nation was founded … the freedom of conscience, the basic rights of human beings and not to be comprising our principles.”
Younan said that he has a personal responsibility to call on the West to intervene, especially considering America's past track record of defending the downtrodden.
"I think that the legacy of the U.S. is to always be the defender of liberty and all minorities," he added. "Those who have the responsibility to lead this great nation, they have to think seriously about what to do to defend the defenseless and marginalized."
Listen to the full interview below:
Morris, who explained that some Iraqis have attempted to flee the border with the few possessions they have, said that they end up having the deeds to their homes ripped up by extremists or their few remaining possessions seized.
Despite the challenges they currently face, though, Younan said that Christians in the Middle East are “people of hope" who will not give up.
“Whatever happens to us — it’s the Lord’s permission, but we have also to say what happened with the 12 apostles,” he said, citing a well-known Bible story about Jesus that is told in Mark, Luke and Matthew.
The scriptures claim that Jesus was once asleep in the back of a boat during a violent storm and, after the disciples woke him in a panic, he intervened to calm the weather. Younan likened the scenario and the lessons embedded in the scriptures to what Christians are facing in the Middle East.
This Saturday, July 19, 2014, photo, shows an empty house of a Christian family with Arabic writing that reads, "Long live the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Muslims are happy with the return of Mujahideen. God is Greater," in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
“The gospel says that [Jesus] ordered the storm to be calmed and therefore we will keep that hope that the Lord Jesus [will help], although it seems like he’s still sleeping in defending the right of Christians … we keep the hope,” he said.
Morris added that the U.S. sacrificed many American lives in the effort to rid Iraq from Saddam Hussein and that, despite monumental loss, Christians have been left to be “killed and wiped out.”
Pope Francis phoned Younan Sunday to discuss the plight of Christians, assuring him that the Vatican will do all it can to help displaced communities return to their homelands. As for his own efforts, Younan visited the region June 28 to visit with the Christians there.
He affirmed that the situation is very serious and that the jihadis, who are imposing Shariah law and causing mass distraction, "consider everyone who doesn't belong to their creed — their religion — as an unfaithful believer."
In this Saturday, July 19, 2014 photo, displaced Christians who fled the violence in Mosul, walks towards the town of Qaraqoush on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq. The message played over loudspeakers gave the Christians of Iraq's second-largest city until midday Saturday to make a choice: convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. (AP)
As TheBlaze previously reported, Christians in Iraq continue to suffer at the hands of radicals. Believers in Mosul were recently given an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a tax or be put to death.
ISIS, which recently declared a caliphate, also reportedly murdered a Muslim professor over his defense of Christians and has allegedly ordered women and girls in Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation.