A Christian in Exile: Letter to Mosul, Left Behind

A Christian in Exile: Letter to Mosul, Left Behind July 29, 2014

The story of ISIS plowing through Mosul, where it has destroyed the shrines of both Christians and their peaceful Muslim neighbors and allowed the Christians to choose exile, subjugation, conversion or death, is a story that is haunting me, as you readers must have figured out. It haunts me because our government saw it coming and said nothing and did nothing. Even now, our leadership and much of the West is silent, and silence implies consent. Churches are destroyed, people are crucified, libraries and ancient manuscripts are put to flame.

And ISIS is not going to simply stop what it’s doing. Already the Christians in the Nineveh plains just a few miles from Mosul, have been cut off from water and electricity; ISIS should be rolling through at any time, now. Things will only get worse. As Mark Movsesian wrote last week in First Things, “ISIS has now shown that it is possible to reestablish the dhimma at the center of the Muslim world. Other Islamist groups will take notice.”

Indeed. This is not a blip that will burn itself out; what we are seeing in Iraq is only the beginning of what will become a world-consuming evil if it is not put down. And who will do that? Not the United States. Not Europe, although Rod Dreher notes that France is offering asylum to these refugees.

The story of the Islamic State advancing unopposed through Iraq is the story, right now, and enough attention is not being paid. This is the assassination of Ferdinand, on steroids.

While news coverage of the story is growing, it is still fairly bare stuff. It has not caught up with what I have gleaned through back channels. In my column at First Things, I found myself once more needing to write about ISIS and Iraq, but I didn’t wish to repeat myself, and with no new headlines, I turned instead to my imagination; I wondered, what might an Iraqi exile write to her neighbors in Mosul, the Muslims who mourned when they left, but spoke up at the risk to their own lives? I hope that is not presumptuous.

To be ripped from our neighborhood, the ancient land we have shared, so companionably for so long, is a tragedy that must transform each of us. I have been forever changed by the experience of being marched away at gunpoint, empty-handed, my past wrested from me. They gave me two choices, leave or die. And you, too, are changed for having to quietly watch me go, or die yourselves. It is not how old neighbors should part.

Why do they do this? Because they can. Because the “great men” and peace-prize-winning princes of the age will not stop them. Because they have been given uniforms and arms, and the sense of strength and prestige that goes with them, and these things are like a salve to their weakness, a balm to their spiritual wounds of inadequacy. Yet, I believe that somewhere deep inside they know this is all an illusion of might, a falsity that feeds their sickness.

Perhaps that is what makes them so dangerous. Give a security guard with a dejected soul a uniform and he begins to believe he is a police officer. Give weapons and a dubious cause to a people who have felt disrespected and thwarted in their creative ambitions, and they will quickly seek to affirm themselves with a demonstration of their new powers. Having felt like nobodies for too long, they must become somebodies, and this they do by dismantling the personhood of others, by obliterating their pasts.

And so they have pointed missiles at our shrines and holy places, and flattened them. They have confiscated our homes. They gave us no time to collect the treasured mementos or to pack the clothes and photos and spare cash that might sustain us. They killed our friends, so we would know we are only creatures. They forced us to leave with nothing but the clothes on our backs, not even water or medicine or passports or indentifying papers. In this way, they tore us from our past; permitted us no standing, no reflection of who we are.

Read the rest here.

Deacon Greg Kandra has news about outreach, and ways to help, beyond these.


HEARTENING: Lebanese News Anchor Wears “N” in Solidarity with Iraqi Christians
NBC: Have the Last Christians Left Mosul after 2,000 years?
WAPO: Obama Failed to Stop ISIS When He Had the Chance
IRAQI CHRISTIANS: to White House, “Obama, Obama, where are you?”

HUFFPO: ISIS Destroys Shiite Mosques and Shrines
BREITBART: Muslim Resistance to ISIS as Tribes Form Militias
ISRAELI CHRISTIANS: What about our brothers in Iraq?
His Beatitude Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan: Religious Genocide
WSJ: Jihadists in Iraq Erase Cultural Heritage

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