Concerns for the religious minorities in the ISIS PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 11:38



I am Catholic , a Christian, who is  seeking to understand what is going on in the areas of the Middle East where the armed groups of the Islamic State (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) have been fighting with the Iraqi troops  to gain control of certain cities. As of the date of this writing and according to the news the IS now controls Mosul, Iraq’s 2nd most important city. They have under their control an important oil field and a big dam. The news said  that if the dam is opened the city below it will be inundated.

The IS has declared that it is the new caliphate with a religious leader named Al-Baghdadi as the new caliph.

Is the fighting that the IS is engaged is a fight against the government of Iraq and perhaps against the regime in Syria? If so, that is not very difficult to understand. I lived through WWII  and I lived through  the cold war between the Western Allies and the Warsaw Pact countries, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  Ugly and sad as they are it is easier for me to understand  wars of this type.

But as reported in the media it seems that  as the IS takes over the cities it targets the religious minorities in these areas. When it took over Mosul it gave the Christians there the choice of converting to Islam or pay a tax for following an outlawed religion or be put to death. It is reported that Chaldean Christians/Catholics  who have been in Mosul for some 1,800 years have fled the city, leaving only a very small number. Other religious minorities are also being hounded, Shia Muslims, the Shabaks and the Yazidis. One news item mentioned that a number of mosques of Shias, some hundreds of years old, had been destroyed.

This is the part I don’t understand. At one time in a small meeting at a local university I said something about “moderate Islam and extremist Islam” and a young Muslim student corrected me by saying that “there is only one Islam.”  I was happy for the correction and that this young man who I hoped was a good representative of young Muslims in the practice of their faith was correct.

And now the IS,  the caliphate and the disturbing things going on in the IS-controlled areas. I refuse to believe that the IS version of Islam is the Islam propagated by the prophet. What do all of these portend for the relationship between Muslims and Christians throughout the world?

It is something that has led me to reflection especially since our country is in the process of setting up a Bangsamoro Entity where the followers of Islam and those of other faiths are expected to live together. Should we be afraid for those who will be minorities in the BE?

I wish to share here a line from a believer’s  interpretation of a line from the Christian prayer The Our Father:

“We recognize that to be reconciled with you, we must live peaceably and justly with other human beings, putting hate and bitterness behind us.”