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A former British ambassor has condemned the Government’s muted response to the persecution of Christians in Iraq that has forced more than 3, 000 people to flee the country’s second city, Mosul, with little more than the clothes they were wearing.
The Iraqi city of Mosul is empty of Christians for the first time in the history of the country, the country's most senior Chaldean Catholic said. Patriarch Louis Sako said the city’s Christians – who until last month numbered a few thousand – were fleeing for the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Christian families abandoned homes and belongings and some were robbed of their vehicles by the jihadists and forced to flee on foot. Some Dominican nuns based in nearby Qaraqosh said that the jihadists had demanded the Christians hand over money, personal documents, passports, cars, and all valuable items.
Francis Campbell, former UK Ambassador to the Holy See, criticised the Government for its failure to speak out over what he described as ethnic cleansing.
“A culture and civilisation is being destroyed and our political leaders are silent,” he said, asking Prime Minister David Cameron via the social networking site Twitter: “Why is the UK silent on the ethnic cleansing of Christians from Mosul?”
A Foreign Office spokesman told The Tablet: “The threat to Christians in the Mosul area is a particular tragedy, given that it has one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. We will work with the new Baghdad Government to raise these matters further.”
Mr Campbell, who is to take over as vice-chancellor of St Mary’s University Twickenham in September, and others including the official Twitter account for the Church of England, changed their profile pictures to an image of the Arabic “N” symbol, which stands for Nazarene, or Christian, and is reportedly being painted on the homes of Christian families in Mosul to single them out.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, urged social media users to show their concern for Iraqi Christians by adopting the hashtag #WeAreN. He tweeted on Wednesday: "Share solidarity of prayer and love with victims of terrible suffering in Iraq, especially threatened Christians of Mosul. #WeAreN."
On the same day in Paris 100 French MPs demonstrated in front of the parliament building, holding signs saying "Je suis aussi un Nazaréén."
The exodus of 3,000 followed a warning read out in Mosul’s mosques on 18 July, and broadcast on loudspeakers, that ordered Christians either to convert to Islam, to submit to its rule and pay a religious levy, or face death.
“If they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement read.
The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation condemned the forced displacement, while the Kurdistan regional government has offered Christians a safe haven.
A demonstration organised by the five Iraqi Eastern Churches in support of Iraqi Christians is to take place in London on Saturday at noon at the Houses of Parliament.
Above: Displaced Christians wait for aid July 20 at a church in the town of Hamdaniya, east of Mosul. Photo: CNS/Reuters
Western countries have turned a blind eye to the cleansing of Mosul’s Christians 25 July 2014 by Robert Ewan