One of the last Christians to stay behind after the Islamic State took over his Iraqi town was beaten to death by jihadi militants after refusing to convert to Islam, a Christian advocacy group and two Christian websites reported.
The Washington-based organization International Christian Concern said that Salem Matty Georgis, 43, of Bartella, was pummeled to death Monday in front of a church after he refused to convert. Islamic State militants seized the predominantly Christian town last month.
The website Ankawa quoted one of Georgis' relatives who said that Georgis never left due to a medical condition that prevented him from traveling.
According to the account by the unnamed relative, Georgis was confined to his home for three weeks until Monday, when he set out to purchase groceries after he ran out of food.
According to Ankawa:
On his way at the town center he encountered a terrorist ISIS patrol in front of Virgin Mary church. The patrol arrests him and tried to force him to convert to Islam, but he completely refused. Thus, the militants beat him and tortured him until he died in their hands. The militants dumped his body in the same place and went away.
The Catholic news website Asia News spoke to officials in the Chaldean Patriarchate, who confirmed that the Sunni militants had pummeled Georgis to death.
“Exactly we don’t know why in this situation they killed this man,” William Warda of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization told International Christian Concern. “Generally they have allowed people to leave, without money or documents, but alive.”
Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said the world "cannot remain silent about the existential threat that Iraq’s Christian communities are facing. We are witnessing the emptying of Christians from their homelands.”
Bartella was one of several predominantly Christian towns in Iraq overrun by the Islamist militant group in early August, which sent tens of thousands of Christians fleeing for safety.