By TIM ARANGO
JULY 20, 2014
BAGHDAD — A day after Christians fled Mosul, the northern city controlled by Islamist extremists, under the threat of death, Muslims and Christians gathered under the same roof — a church roof — here on Sunday afternoon. By the time the piano player had finished the Iraqi national anthem, and before the prayers, Manhal Younis was crying.
“I can’t feel my identity as an Iraqi Christian,” she said, her three little daughters hanging at her side.
A Muslim woman sitting next to her in the pew reached out and whispered, “You are the true original people here, and we are sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam.”
The warm scene here was an unusual counterpoint to the wider story of Iraq’s unraveling, as Sunni militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria gain territory and persecute anyone who does not adhere to their harsh version of Islamic law. On Saturday, to meet a deadline by the ISIS militants, most Christians in Mosul, a community almost as old as Christianity itself, left with little more than the clothes they were wearing.
Some went on foot, their cars having been confiscated; others rode bicycles or motor scooters. Few were able to take anything of value, as militants seized their money and jewelry. Some — just a few, and because they were not healthy enough to flee — submitted to demands that they convert to Islam to avoid being killed.
“There are five Christian families who converted to Islam because they were threatened with death,” said Younadim Kanna, a Christian and a member of Iraq’s Parliament. “They did so just to stay alive.”
Read More: Source New York Times