ON-Lion Letter

"Car by car, family by family, frightened Iraqi Christians by the thousands fled their ancient Iraqi homeland over the weekend," begins a July article by Lela Gilbert.  "With broken hearts and little more than the clothes on their backs, they’ve left behind their houses, businesses, and churches -- everything they’ve known.

"The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group announced through their mosques," Gilbert continues in "The Last Christians in Iraq" from Fox News Online, "that local Christians must either convert to Islam, pay an exorbitant Muslim tax -- the jizya, which amounts to protection money -- or leave the city.  If they did not conform to these demands by noon on Saturday, July 19, there would be 'nothing for them but the sword.'"

Gilbert is an adjunct fellow of the Center for Religious Freedom (CRF) at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., author of Encounter BooksSaturday People, Sunday People:  Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner, and co-author of Persecuted:  The Global Assault on ChristiansThe Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports CRF and Encounter.

Iraq's Christians and other minorities "are well aware that no host of valiant defenders is going to come to their rescue. In fact, the Iraqi Army virtually melted away when ISIS appeared," according to Gilbert, who lives in Jerusalem.

"[F]or the Christians, 'Convert, pay the jizya tax, or die,' means, quite simply, that there is little alternative but to flee -- except in a small number of villages over which Kurdistan has extended a protective umbrella," she writes.

"Thus, most Christians have fled.

"Whether Iraq’s Christians stay or go," Gilbert concludes, "nothing can remove the devastating sense of injury and injustice they are experiencing."

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