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Archbishop urges prayer for Christians being martyred and expelled in Iraq

A fleeing Iraqi girl cries after settling with her family near a Kurdish checkpoint, in the Khazer area between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Irbil, northern Iraq, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A fleeing Iraqi girl cries after settling with her family near a Kurdish checkpoint, in the Khazer area between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Irbil, northern Iraq, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The Church of Ireland primate has appealed for people to pray for Christians suffering brutal repression by Islamic extremists in Iraq.

Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke said that it was “deeply distressing” to hear reports from northern Iraq that Christians are being expelled or martyred by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Christian churches in Mosul have been forcibly turned into mosques while Christian believers have been give three choices: converting to Islam, paying a special tax, or facing death.

The ISIS group launched an aggressive offensive through western and northern Iraq beginning late last year and took over Mosul in June.

After seizing the city, militants scrawled the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarene) on the doors of Christian-owned homes.

The Most Revd Clarke said: “Recent reports of the forced expulsion, violence and intimidation against the Christian population in Mosul in northern Iraq by ISIS militants is deeply distressing.

“There are accounts that numbers of people have died and been threatened with death for their faith. At this time, we ask people here across our land who enjoy religious freedom and liberty to remember before God the suffering people of this ancient city where Christians and Muslims have lived together for many centuries.

“We remember those who are working selflessly for healing, peace and restoration between peoples in these most difficult of circumstances and pray that by God’s Holy Spirit light will replace the present darkness that many are experiencing.”

 

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