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Islamic State destroys convent in Mosul

Banner christian refugees take refuge in erbil iraq on august 9 2014 credit  fr firas benham benoka cna 8 11 14 2

Christian refugees from Mosul and Nineveh province in Erbil, August 2014. Credit: Fr. Firas Benham Benoka.

Local media are reporting that on Monday, Islamic State militants blew up a convent and St. George's parish in Mosul, an Iraqi city captured by the Islamists in June. A resident of Mosul said “that cries of Allahu Akbar ‘God is Great’ rose from many mosques in the city as Islamist militants blew up the church located in one of Mosul’s Arab neighborhoods,” Rudaw, a Kurdish media outlet based in Erbil, reported Nov. 24. Abouna.org, a site run by Fr. Rif'at Bader of the Latrin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, reported that the convent was the Sisters of the Holy Heart's Monastery of Victory, in Mosul's Arab Quarter. The nuns of the convent, also known as al-Nasir, had fled Mosul in June, according to the BBC. Islamic State is a caliphate in portions of Iraq and Syria, which has persecuted all non-Sunnis in its territory – Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims have all fled the area. Thousands of Christians and other minorities fled Mosul after a July 18 ultimatum demanding they convert, pay jizya, or be killed. They went to other towns in Nineveh province and in Iraqi Kurdistan. Prior to the destruction of al-Nasir convent and St. George's church, other non-Sunni places of worship and historical or cultural sites had already been destroyed. Churches have been taken over for use by Islamic State, with their crosses removed, or they have been destroyed entirely. Shiite mosques have been demolished. The tomb of the prophet Jonah, on which a mosque was built, was blown up by Islamic State in July. According to Rudaw, Monday's destruction in Mosul is in retribution for recent military setbacks to Islamic State. Both the Syrian regime and a US-led coalition frequently bomb Ar Raqqah, a prominent Syrian city held by Islamic State. Airstrikes killed nearly 100 people in the city on Nov. 25. Islamic State has displaced well more than 100,000 Christians from their homes.

The Catholic charitable organization Aid to the Church in Need has launched a fundraising appeal “United in Faith” for the Christians of Iraq and Syria who have become refugees. The British branch of the charity is hosting an Advent Carol Service at St Mary Moorfields Church in London on Dec. 2 in order to raise awareness of the suffering of Iraqi Christians and to offer prayers and donations.

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