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Video: ISIS Burning Hundreds of Christian Textbooks in Attempt To Erase Religion From Middle East

( [email protected] ) Mar 14, 2016 02:49 PM EDT
A disturbing new video has emerged showing Islamic State militants burning Christian textbooks in an attempt to erase all traces of religions other than Islam from the ancient city of Mosul, Iraq - a region thousands of Christians once called home.
ISIS has burned approximately 8,000 books and rare manuscripts over past few months, experts believe. Photo Credit: ARA News

A disturbing new video has emerged showing Islamic State militants burning Christian textbooks in an attempt to erase all traces of religions other than Islam from the ancient city of Mosul, Iraq - a region thousands of Christians once called home.

According to a report from the Kurdish media outlet ARA News, the terror group published a video through the affiliated Amaq news agency last week. The video, titled "Diwan of education destroys Christian instruction books in Mosul," shows IS militants tossing hundreds of Christian textbooks, many of them emblazoned with crosses, into a large bonfire.

A local activist, Abdullah al-Mulla, told ARA News the books had been collected from the many Christian schools and churches throughout the once thriving city.

"ISIS jihadis burned hundreds of Christian textbooks in central Mosul," al-Mulla said. "The militants have also collected a lot of Christian textbooks from the Dawassa district near Martyr's' Park and publicly burned then," he added.

As reported by The Gospel Herald, Mosul has been occupied by ISIS since June 2014 and is considered to be the main stronghold for the terror group in the region. Once ISIS took over the city, it issued an edict to drive out the remaining Christian citizens and offered an ultimatum: convert to Islam or die.

The city, the capital of the northern Nineveh Province, was estimated to have a population of approximately 1.8 million at the time ISIS' offensive, but at least 150,000 were forced to flee their homes to avoid falling under the group's rule.

The recent destruction in Mosul is the latest in a string of attacks on Christianity's heritage, which the jihadist group is steadily erasing from the Middle East.

In February 2015, IS fighters ransacked a central Mosul library and burned over 100,000 different books and manuscripts, a move the director general of the U.N.'s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Irina Bokova referred to as "one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history."

In July, the group blew up Mother of Aid Church, which had stood in central Mosul for thousands of years, according to the Kurdish news site Rudaw, killing four children in the process. Less than a month earlier, IS converted Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Ephraim, one of Mosul's largest churches, into a mosque for the group's "mujahideen."

In April, ISIS released disturbing photographs of its militants destroying ancient Christian graves with sledgehammers and carving out crosses in the ancient city. Earlier, the group shared propaganda photos showing its militants using sledgehammers to destroy the tomb of the biblical prophet Jonah.

The group has defended the destruction of the ancient tomb by arguing that the "graves above the ground suggested that the dead person was closer to Allah than the living, so must be demolished and any images on the graves must be erased."

Dozens of churches and Shia mosques in Mosul have also been blown up in the past year by the group, including the popular 19th century Hamo mosque and the 1800-year-old Assyrian church, because they were deemed heretical and sacrilegious.

Nuri Kino, founder and president of A Demand For Action, a group advocating the protection of ethno religious minorities such as Assyrians and Yazidis in the Middle East, told Newsweek last June that the continuous attacks on Christian symbols and structures by ISIS shows that the group are continuing in their attempt to "cleanse" their caliphate.

"If so, it's a scary development, until now they have bombed or, in other ways, destroyed churches but when they change [the church to a mosque], it feels more definite," he said.

"A year ago they said 'Convert, pay or die' then it turned out to be a lie, that even if you pay you will not be able to stay," he added. "If they changed a church to a mosque it is further proof of their cleansing, something that many call a genocide. They destroy our artifacts, our churches and try to erase us in any way they can."