In its unrelenting attack against Christianity and the history of the religion, Islamic State recently released a video showing militants burning thousands of Christian texts in the Iraqi city of Mosul on grounds that they belong to infidels.
The terrorist organization, which took over Mosul and massive portions of the Nineveh Plains in 2014, published the video titled “Diwan Of Education Destroys Christian Instruction Books In Mosul” via its affiliated news agency Amaq, revealing Islamic State militants tossing thousands of textbooks with crucifixes on their covers into a bonfire. Diwan al-Hisba (Chamber of Morality Police) was set up by Islamic State right after it seized swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria. This particular body is responsible for enforcing the terrorist organization’s warped version of Sharia law and imposing strict penalties ranging from flogging to amputations and beheadings.
After Amaq made the video public, an Assyrian Christian media group shared it on YouTube so that it could be circulated as additional proof of Islamic State’s relentless attempt to eliminate Christianity and other minority religions in Iraq and Syria. Reportedly, the militants collected the texts from various churches and schools across Mosul.
“The militants have also collected a lot of Christian textbooks from the Dawassa district near the Martyrs' Park and publicly burned them,” said media activist Abdullah al-Mulla.
This is not the first time that Islamic State has carried out such an act of religious cleansing. In February last year, Islamic State militants ransacked a library in Mosul burning more than 100,000 books and rare manuscripts.
Irina Bokova (Director General of United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) called it one of the most caustic acts of destruction of library collections in human history. “This destruction marks a new phase in the cultural cleansing perpetrated in regions controlled by armed extremists in Iraq,” Bokova said at the time. “It adds to the systematic destruction of heritage and the persecution of minorities that seeks to wipe out the cultural diversity that is the soul of the Iraqi people.”
While Islamic State has habitually burned texts and various forms of literature that happen to contradict its own version of world history, the terrorist organization has also continued to publish texts preaching its own propaganda. For instance, Islamic State released scanned pages from its mathematics books that cause children to learn addition and subtraction with images of handguns, automatic assault rifles and military tanks.
Apart from destroying traditional texts and replacing them with their own propaganda, Islamic State has also prioritized on destroying much of the region’s Christian roots, by desecrating ancient monasteries and innumerable Christian artifacts. Beginning this year, satellite images confirmed that the terrorist organization brought Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery to the ground. The former St Elijah’s monastery stood tall for as long as 1,400 years, being used regularly as a place for worship by Christians, until Islamic State militants decided to reduce the 27,000-square-feet stone and mortar structure to nothing but debris.
“Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned those stone walls into this field of grey-white dust. They destroyed it completely,” said imagery analyst Stephen Wood, who pinpointed the destruction.
Additionally, Islamic State has destroyed several other Christian churches and Shiite mosques within its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
Several international bodies, including the European Union as well as the United States Commission On International Religious Freedom, have referred to what Islamic State has been doing to Christians and other religious minorities in the region as genocide. Alongside several human rights groups and more than 200 members of Congress, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said that Islamic State is genocidal by self-proclamation, both by ideology as well as actions.
Calling for an independent international investigation, Kerry said, “Naming these crimes is important but what is essential is to stop them.” He also said that Islamic State is responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in regions it controls across Iraq and Syria.
Earlier this month, Knights Of Columbus and In Defense Of Christians together released an approximately 280-page report, chronicling Islamic State’s atrocities against Christians in Iraq and Syria.
A Summary of the Groups Targeted by Islamic State
Islamic State considers Yazidis to be devil-worshippers and deems it fit that they be killed or enslaved with impunity.
In August 2014, thousands of Yazidis residing in the Nineveh Plains were rounded up by Islamic State militants, who –after separating the men and boys from the women and girls– shot them to death. Afterwards, the women and girls were abducted as ‘spoils of war’ and gifted or sold to Islamic State militants. Girls as young as six years old were brutally raped, while boys as young as 14-years-old were forcefully converted to Islam before being subjected to rigorous military training.
Islamic State believes Shia Muslims are irredeemable apostates who could rightfully be punished with death for their understanding of Prophet Muhammad's beliefs, practices and family members.
In June 2014, Islamic State militants killed as many as 1,700 army recruits after taking over Shia Muslims at Camp Speicher military base outside the Iraqi city of Tikrit. The same month, Islamic State also started acquiring control over the predominantly Shia town of Amirli. At least 13,000 residents, including 10,000 women and children, were shelled on a daily basis until the siege was broken three months later.
Christians are defined as ‘People of the Book’ under Sharia Law, a classification that allows them some protection in comparison to other religious groups. But Islamic State believes that Christians should not be offered such protection because they have agreed to participate in a Jewish cum Crusader-led conspiracy opposing Islam. Thus, militants of the terrorist organization often compel Christians living in territories they have seized to choose between paying a protection tax called jizyah, converting to Islam or being slayed to death. In February 2015, Islamic State released footage revealing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian migrant workers on a beach in Libya.
Photo Credits: The Christian Post