IRAQ – Islamic State used a Christian church as a prison for slaves
An Iraqi official revealed that terrorists from the Islamic State (ISIS) used a Syrian-Orthodox church in Mosul in northern Iraq, as a prison for a large number of Yazidi women who were used as sex slaves.
When IS fighters captured Mosul in 2014, they forced Christians to leave and destroy their homes, businesses and churches. In June 2015, the jihadists posted announcements on the walls of the city declaring that they were going to turn the Syro-Orthodox church of San Efrén into a “Mujahideen mosque”, a place for the most violent branch of Islam that promotes the “jihad”, the so-called Holy Muslim war.
The terrorists removed all Christian symbols and furniture from the church. On the facade and on some walls they painted their flag proclaiming in Arabic characters “There is no God except Allah.” They also wrote on the walls part of their motto “stay”. The complete motto of IS is “to stay and expand.”
Now the area of Mosul where the church of San Efrén is located has been liberated from jihadist control by the Iraqi army. The military revealed that the terrorists had used the church of San Efrén as a warehouse for IS documents and as a prison for some 200 Yazidi girls and women.
“We found documents which stated what their age was, whether they were married or unmarried, whether they were virgins or not, whether they were menstruating or not,” Waseem Nenwaya, the first lieutenant of the Iraqi army, said. In the basement of the church Iraqi soldiers also found underwear and ribbons decorated with flowers that had belonged to the Yazidi women.
The Yazidis are another religious minority apart from Christians that Islamic State persecuted. The Yazidis of Kurdish origin follow the Zoroaster religion . Muslims regard them as “worshipers of the devil” because the Yazidites call their divinity with the same word that Muslims use for “Satan.”
Before the invasion of the Islamic State in 2014, most of the Yazidis lived in the cities of Mosul and Sinjar, located in the plain of Nineveh. More than 6,500 Yazidis in the area were kidnapped by IS and forced to become jihadists or used as sex slaves.
The local residents have decided to restore the church, which was severely damaged, and return it to Christians. Waseem Nenwaya indicated that several French and Italian NGOs have pledged to help in this task.