The Islamic State is using the early history of Christianity to legitimize its violent efforts to eradicate Christians and other minorities in seeking to solidify its caliphate in the Middle East.
"How much longer can we flee before we and other minorities become a story in a history book?" Nuri Kino, a journalist who founded the advocacy group A Demand for Action last year to help persecuted Christians in the region, asked The News York Times.
The report, in the Times Magazine, cited a report by the Pew Research Center saying that more Christians were being persecuted in the region than at any time since their early history.
"ISIL has put a spotlight on the issue," California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, told the Times, using an alternative name for the terrorist group. Her parents are from the region. "Christianity is under an existential threat."
For instance, ISIS recently posted videos designating Christians as second-class citizens in the caliphate, the Times reports. Those unwilling to pay the "jizya" — a per-capita tax on non-Muslims — or convert to Islam have been slaughtered.
Islamic State terrorists did this to four children in Iraq in December.
The narrator in the videos pronounces such lethal punishment, and the footage has since detailed the brutal annihilation of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya in April.
They had been marched onto the beach and beheaded, with their blood running into the surf, the Times reports.
In Syria, for instance, President Bashar Assad has allowed Christians to leave the country since the civil war broke out in 2011.
Nearly a third of Syria’s estimated 600,000 Christians have fled, having been driven out by terrorist groups like the Nusra Front and now ISIS, the Times reports.
"As president, he made the sheep and the wolf walk together," Bassam Ishaya, whose family fled Syria, told the Times. "We don’t care if he stays or goes, we just want security."
The Ishaya family left Syria with nothing. ISIS, Bassam said, told them they "either had to pay the jizya, convert or be killed."
He has a blue crucifix tattoo on his right arm. "Because of this, I had to wear long sleeves," he told the Times.
Assad has used the Islamic State's rise to solidify his own support among those who remain, contending that he is the only thing stopping the group from taking over Syria, according to the report.
"When Christians saw Christians being beheaded, those who saw Assad as the enemy chose the lesser of two evils," Samy Gemayel, leader of the Kataeb party in Lebanon, told the Times. "Assad was the diet version of ISIS."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.