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Bishops witness “persecuted and beleaguered” Middle East Christians

Posted on: January 22, 2016 3:35 PM
Soldiers from the US Army tour Saint Elijah's Monastery (Dair Mar Elia) on Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, in January 2009. Satellite imagery show that Saint Elijah’s, a complex of buildings dating back to the 6th century, and the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, was destroyed by Daesh terrorists.
Photo Credit: Staff Sgt JoAnn S Makinano / US Air Force
Related Categories: Middle East, persecution

[Church Times, by Tim Wyatt] The oldest Christian site in Iraq, the 1400-year-old St Elijah’s monastery, near Mosul, has been razed to the ground by Islamic State (IS), or Daesh.

The demolition is the latest act in the ongoing war against Christians and other religious minorities by the extremist group, which still controls large parts of northern Iraq, seized in 2014.

Satellite images released by the news agency AP reveal that IS has reduced the ancient monastery to little more than white dust. An Iraqi Christian cleric in exile, the Revd Paul Thabit Habib, told AP that their heritage was being “barbarically levelled” in Iraq.

“We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating our existence in this land,” Mr Habib said.

In an effort to show Middle Eastern Christians that their plight is not being ignored, a group of bishops visited the region last week. The [Church of England] Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, who was among the international group, said that the message they took to persecuted Christians in Palestine and Jordan was: “You are not forgotten”.

  • Read the full report on the Church Times website.