The Iraqi Christian who told ISIS: ‘If you want to kill me for my faith I am prepared to die here now’


slamic State fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul (CNS)

Islamic State fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul (CNS)


By John Pontifex blogs on the plight of Iraqi Christians, Friday 3 October 2014

When Christian villagers from the Iraqi town of Caramles fled advancing IS forces, 80-year-old Victoria was among a dozen or so unable to leave. The widow, a Chaldean Catholic, knew nothing about the sudden evacuation that had suddenly emptied this ancient village she had known for so long. Next morning she went to church – St Addai’s – as she did every day. She found the place locked; the streets deserted. She knew IS had come.

We met Victoria on our first evening in Erbil at the start of a fact-finding and project assessment trip for Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need. She wanted to tell us the story of how she and her friend and neighbour Gazella survived.

For four days, they locked themselves in their home, not daring to venture out. “Prayer sustained us,” said Victoria. But they needed food for the body as well as food for the soul and when supplies ran dangerously low they went in search of water and other basics.

Inevitably they ran into IS forces. Explaining their situation, they asked for help and to their surprise IS gave them water even after they refused a request to abandon their faith.

A few days later, IS found them in their homes and rounded them up at St Barbara’s shrine just on the edge of Caramles. There were about a dozen of them there, the last remaining Christian inhabitants of the village.

“You must convert,” IS forces told them. “Our faith can promise you paradise,” they added.

Victoria and Gazella responded: “We believe that if we show love and kindness, forgiveness and mercy we can bring about the kingdom of God on earth as well as in heaven. Paradise is about love. If you want to kill us for our faith then we are prepared to die here and now.”

IS forces had no answer. The dozen Christians, who included many elderly and infirm, were let go. One of them had a battered car. Other transport was also arranged and they made it to safety.

Victoria and Gazelle are still neighbours. But they no longer live in two homes side by side but two mattresses in a room they rent courtesy of the Church in Ainkawa, near Erbil, the capital of Kurdish northern Iraq.

There on the mattresses they told their story. Completing it, Victoria had tears in her eyes. “Ebony”, she said, reaching out her arms to me.

After we embraced, her bishop, Amel Nona of Mosul, himself a refugee too, told me that “Ebony” is Arabic for “my child”. I went away thinking that I was indeed a child sitting at the feet of women of great fortitude, faith and friendship.

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16 Responses to The Iraqi Christian who told ISIS: ‘If you want to kill me for my faith I am prepared to die here now’

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    It makes me feel ashamed, sitting here in the safety of my home far away from that hell-hole. I think IS (or ISIL or ISIS or whatever stupid nametag they settle on next week) is the proverbial canary in the coalmine. I hear that Birmingham, your second largest city, now has more Muslim children than Christian children. How long before Sharia and Halal are the rules in the West Midlands? How long before restaurants stop serving full english breakfasts? How long before seeing-eye dogs are banned from those restaurants? How long before every pub is run out of business? And you cannot get rid of them. The Muslims, that is.


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    Islam, a religion of pieces. Heads, hands, fingers…

    God bless Christian families who see what’s needed to stem their tide. Can’t say mine does (only one grandchild, bless her dear heart, so far), but I do what I can at my time of life, which is to pray…and stand on the designated sidewalk in my city this Sunday in silent witness for LIFE CHAIN, a union of Christian communities across North America joining in solidarity and prayer for the lives of preborn children. My Bishop Crosby, OMI, insists upon it.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    “My Bishop Crosby, OMI, insists upon it.”

    Er, no. I respect Bishop Crosby, but the actual words in his letter two weeks ago were:
    “I ask you to consider participating in either the Life Chain on October 5th or in the 40 Days for Life Campaign happening in various areas of the diocese…”

    Now, if he or our parish priest were to insist that we do so, the attendancy rate would triple or quadruple. What Catholic who attends Mass every Sunday would disobey such a command?


  4. “… the attendancy rate would treble or quadruple….” Id like to think so John Henry…. Not this side of the world I’m sorry to say…. Depends which church they belong to of course.. The apostate Catholic Church or the Holy Catholic Church. The apostate catholic church in my old parish is full of oldies, who have forgotten how to genuflect. No youths, no young mothers or fathers and no children… In any event the local apostate catholic archbishop would never issue such a command in the first place. The Holy Catholic Church, Mass that my family and I attend however is awash with young Parents and their small children (18 of them are my grandkids. with thanks to Our Lord and His mother) and clearly outnumber the elderly. Everyone genuflects even my 17 month old Grand Daughter…. We pray that WHEN the time comes all will have the courage of those, warriors for Christ, mentioned above.


  5. Tom Fisher says:

    I hear that Birmingham, your second largest city, now has more Muslim children than Christian children.

    what’s happening in the UK is stunning. Christianity is being abandoned, while Islam goes from strength to strength. The current situation was unimaginable just 50 years ago, God only knows what it will be like in another 50 years.

    The atheist ‘progressives’ who imagine that Christianity will be replaced by secularism are in for a rude shock


  6. Tom Fisher says:

    Depends which church they belong to of course.. The apostate Catholic Church or the Holy Catholic Church.

    Are you in communion with the Pope Geoff? That will settle the issue for you. If you’re in communion with the Pope you belong to the Holy Catholic Church. Otherwise you don’t.


  7. Brother Burrito says:

    The courage and testimony of these ladies of Caramles have caused my eyes to moisten.

    This story shows also that God can soften the hearts even of the IS monsters.


  8. Tom: I am most definitely in union with the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Are You?

    The question I ask is this. Can (A) Pope be an apostate? Hang on… I did not say and I do not infer that the Holy Father ( Pope Francis I ) is an apostate.
    On a separate matter, I draw your attention the likes of Pope Alexander ( the V or was it the VI) . Ask your self, was he in error or mistaken in any way? No body denies he was a reprobate, but was he an apostate? I suggest that he probably was . What of many other ‘Popes’ that have led the Church over the centuries.? Have and of them been apostates,( I speak of other ‘reprobate’ Popes) or have they been wrong or in error or their pronouncements been at odds with the Church at any time? And if they had, would anyone that supported or agreed with them with full knowledge or even mistakenly been in error and equally, apostates?
    Tom I don’t know how old you are, but do you, or have you experience of the Church, pre Vatican II ?
    The ‘Holy Sacrifice’ of the Mass ( the Tridentine variety) was the very essence and the centre of the Holy Catholic Church, It was revered and had been held sacred for centuries by Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and the Laity. Not to mention Saints and Doctors of the Church.
    Now to say otherwise would suggest that somehow it was deficient in some manner or form.
    Are you, or anyone else, suggesting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, pre Vatican II was less than a perfect sacrifice? ( God help us if that was the case) I AM NOT SAYING that the new order of the Mass is deficient. Said reverently and with those components necessary for a valid Mass, it is not any less propitious than the Tridentine Mass.
    Why then the restrictions placed on the Franciscan of the Immaculate ? Not wishing to pre-empt any future Papal decisions or pronouncements, I find it very disconcerting and perhaps even diabolical that there would be any such restriction in the first Place. THAT DOES NOT make the Holy Father an apostate.

    “ARE YOU IN UNION WITH THE POPE”: is not the sole criteria for membership of the One Holy Catholic Church. As described above, some Popes in the past have been in error and in the State of apostasy.
    For any Priest to ‘say ‘ Mass without believing that the Bread and Wine is confected into the Body and Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord OR does not believe in the real and corporeal Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament OR that it is not necessary to confess your sins OR that it is not necessary to be a member of the HC Church for salvation OR it is not necessary to attend Mass every Sunday and if any member of the laity shares such beliefs, they are grossly at odds with the One Holy and Catholic and Apostolic Church’s doctrines and as such join the ranks of the apostates.
    Sadly that is the case in many of the Masses in this part of the world (Australia)


  9. toadspittle says:

    “The atheist ‘progressives’ who imagine that Christianity will be replaced by secularism are in for a rude shock..”
    If such straw men as you visualise Tom, exist – I agree with you. But I suspect the “atheist progressives,” – whoever they are – probably detest Muslims as much, if not more – than either you, or JH, or I do.
    …For all the good it will do any of us.
    Religious fanaticism has always had a way of making itself felt. Usually with a sword. And the loonies are all as happy to die for their religions, as they are to live for them.
    Happier, actually.
    But to declare, “A plague on all their houses,” would not be productive. Would it? Nor particularly charitable. JH would rather be a member of ISIS than a harmless Agnostic, he tells us.
    Well, there we are.


  10. johnhenrycn says:

    I certainly did NOT say that I’d rather be a member of ISIS than a harmless useless agnostic. There you go fabricating comments again, as you’ve done repeatedly with Kathleen and Michael. If you can’t quote accurately then don’t quote at all, okay?


  11. johnhenrycn says:

    …and another thing:
    “I suspect the “atheist progressives,” – whoever they are – probably detest Muslims as much [as you do]…”

    What you and your atheist progressives don’t get is that destesting Muslims is not going to defeat them. Most atheists – and probably agnostics, too – are firmly part of the contraceptive and abortion camps, which is why Muslims are making the alarming inroads we now see in Europe.


  12. johnhenrycn says:

    …and now another British aid worker, Alan Henning, has been beheaded. Next, Toad, will say I approve. So strange for a person who used to be a newspaper editor. But maybe not, thinking back to the defunct News of the World.


  13. toadspittle says:

    The News of the World had about as much to do with me as crooked lawyers have to to with you, JH. At least, Id like to think so. (No real idea, of course.)

    I am not suggesting that religion is responsible for much of the world’s insanity. I’m suggesting
    what’s to blame is the ways people choose to interpret religion.
    Which appear to be infinite. And often horrible. As here.
    Catholics have put thousands of unbelievers and heretics to the sword, or worse, over the years, as you know, (as have Anglicans, to be sure.)
    Agnostics – none. Yet you’d sooner be a Muslim, JH.
    You’re a bit too aggressive for us silly old softies, anyway.


  14. johnhenrycn says:

    “The News of the World had about as much to do with me…”

    Well, I wouldn’t like to think that your ISIS comment above, which was pretty low, was up to the editorial standards you were accustomed to following before retirement. (No real idea, of course)

    As for ‘aggressive’ behaviour, I suggest you’ve got a passive-aggressive streak a mile wide, expressing your negatives feelings for Christians with satirical jibes and ridicule, usually couched with insincere caveats such as ‘What do I know’…’No real idea’…’Just my opinion’…etc…etc, but always just a hair’s breadth away from referring sky fairies. Have a nice day.


  15. johnhenrycn says:

    …from referring to sky fairies… I meant to say, but again, have a nice day.


  16. toadspittle says:

    Gracefully. and tolerantly, put, JH – and you no doubt will be pleased to hear I have had a very nice day indeed (so far) Treve, dangerously heavily backed by me – has just (seconds ago) won The Arc for the second year running.
    What a filly! Champagne for my real friends – and real pain for my sham friends!
    ( My old drinking mate, Francis Bacon, painter and – in his own words – “Old Poof,” used to say that.)


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