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In Pictures: Iraq united vs Islamic State
Members of Iraq's religious minorities have joined together in their opposition to the Islamic State group.
Last updated: 05 Aug 2014 10:12
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Erbil, Iraq - Most Christian families have now fled Iraq's second largest city, Mosul. The most recent exodus began on June 10 with the city's takeover by the armed group known as the Islamic State group. Fears were exacerbated when two nuns and three orphans were kidnapped by the group's supporters.

Though they were released after 17 days, the displacement further accelerated on July 19 with the announcement that Christians had the choice to either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, leave, or face death.

Other religious minorities have been similarly targeted for persecution and expulsion. According to the United Nations, members of the Yazidi and Shabak communities who refused to convert or leave were sentenced to death by religious courts and executed.

Those who fled saved their lives but little else, clogging checkpoints, schools, churches, UN camps, and homes of relatives as they fled to the safety of areas controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

"They were all looted, harassed and humiliated," says Aziz al-Zebari, a Christian from Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, whose relatives were among those displaced from Mosul. "They made it out in their bare clothes."

All money and valuables were taken by the Islamic state group, Zebari told Al Jazeera. One family spoke of how their two pre-teen daughters were made to undress to see if they were hiding money inside their clothes. An elderly man's medicine was stolen by the fighters when they looted his house, a witness who did not wish to give his name said; living alone and without his medicine, the man died.

"It's an act of cleansing," says Zebari. "They are wiping out our community."

During this process of harassment and expulsion, Islamic State group fighters identified and marked the houses of Mosul's Christians with the circled Arabic version of the letter "N" (pronounced noon), referring to the word Nasara, an archaic Arabic term for Christians. While Arabic-speaking Christians refer to themselves as Masihiyin (followers of the Messiah), religious Muslims often use the term Nasara to refer to followers of Jesus of Nazareth - a title that does not connote divinity.

As news of this practice spread, the symbol was converted to a badge of solidarity by Christians and Muslims alike. Twitter hashtags like #WeAreN and #IAmNazrene quickly spread, with many replacing their profile photos with graphics depicting the letter being used by the Islamic State group to mark homes.

Zebari was among the more than 1,200 Christians, many of them carrying signs or shirts emblazoned with the symbol, who marched in a demonstration to the UN headquarters in Erbil during a visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, demanding greater protection for Iraq's Christian minority. "We are not happy with just denouncements," says Zebari. "We are looking for actions."

Unlike Kurds and Shia Muslims, Christians enjoyed relative freedom and tolerance under the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. But after the US-led invasion in 2003, some armed groups associated them with the western "crusaders". As Christians began to be targeted by violence, many fled the country.

While Iraq's Christians numbered some 1.5 million before the war, estimates of those remaining now are as low as 200,000.

"My brother is in America," says Nasrat Mansour, sporting a "Jesus" baseball cap at the demonstration. Though his brother has encouraged him many times to emigrate, he refuses, "because this is our land. This is our home".

As in other recent demonstrations in Baghdad, Christians weren't the only ones marching in Erbil. Leaders of the Muslim community walked side by side with Christian clergy to demand an end to the violence engulfing the country. "I am a Muslim living in Iraq," says Suras al-Munai, a resident of Ankawa. "I am here today with my brothers and sisters, the Christian people, to say I am against what is happening in Mosul."


/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

An elderly Christian man attends mass at Saint Joseph's Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil on June 27. Thousands of Christians have fled to areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since the Islamic State group's takeover of Mosul in June.



/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

A child plays outside a United Nations camp for displaced Iraqis near the Khazer checkpoint on July 17. More than a million people have fled the violence, primarily Shia Turkmen.



/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera
Iraqis push a car past Kurdish security forces at the Khazer checkpoint between Nineveh and Erbil provinces on July 23.


/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Members of the Hamet family live in a government school classroom in the village of Jarahiyya. Islamic State group fighters have targeted members of the Shia, Shabak, Yazidi, and Christian communities.



/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Chaldean Catholic nuns hold the Arabic version of the letter 'N' at a protest on July 24. The symbol has been used by the Islamic State group to mark property belonging to Christians in Mosul.



/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Leaders of both the Christian and Muslim communities joined a protest in Erbil against the Islamic State group's targeting of minorities on July 24.



/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera
An activist chants at a rally in Erbil on July 2. More than 1,200 Iraqis marched in solidarity with Christians forced to flee territories controlled by the Islamic State group.


/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Protesters at a rally in Erbil on July 24 carry a sign in Syriac, the liturgical language used by most Iraqi Christians. The language, which is the written form of Aramaic, is believed to have been spoken by Jesus.



/Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

A Muslim woman at a protest in Erbil on July 24 carries the Arabic version of the letter 'N'. The symbol is short for 'Nazarene', an archaic Arabic term used by the Islamic state group to describe Christians.




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images:
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captions:

An elderly Christian man attends mass at Saint Joseph(***)s Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil on June 27. Thousands of Christians have fled to areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since the Islamic State group(***)s takeover of Mosul in June.

;*;

A child plays outside a United Nations camp for displaced Iraqis near the Khazer checkpoint on July 17. More than a million people have fled the violence, primarily Shia Turkmen.

;*;Iraqis push a car past Kurdish security forces at the Khazer checkpoint between Nineveh and Erbil provinces on July 23. ;*;

Members of the Hamet family live in a government school classroom in the village of Jarahiyya. Islamic State group fighters have targeted members of the Shia, Shabak, Yazidi, and Christian communities.

;*;

Chaldean Catholic nuns hold the Arabic version of the letter (***)N(***) at a protest on July 24. The symbol has been used by the Islamic State group to mark property belonging to Christians in Mosul.

;*;

Leaders of both the Christian and Muslim communities joined a protest in Erbil against the Islamic State group(***)s targeting of minorities on July 24.

;*;An activist chants at a rally in Erbil on July 2. More than 1,200 Iraqis marched in solidarity with Christians forced to flee territories controlled by the Islamic State group.;*;

Protesters at a rally in Erbil on July 24 carry a sign in Syriac, the liturgical language used by most Iraqi Christians. The language, which is the written form of Aramaic, is believed to have been spoken by Jesus.

;*;

A Muslim woman at a protest in Erbil on July 24 carries the Arabic version of the letter (***)N(***). The symbol is short for (***)Nazarene(***), an archaic Arabic term used by the Islamic state group to describe Christians.

Daylife ID:
bf52ab213cdd0e74757a2ffa5caf7cc2
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera;*;Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Christians flee Islamic State rulehttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_ruleen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Sun, 03 Aug 2014 11:07:45 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/4e80fac42d19c602f9debf4074aa029b

An elderly Christian man attends mass at Saint Joseph's Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil on June 27. Thousands of Christians have fled to areas controlled by the Kurdish regional government since the Islamic State group's takeover of Mosul in June.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/4e80fac42d19c602f9debf4074aa029bRyan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

An elderly Christian man attends mass at Saint Joseph's Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil on June 27. Thousands of Christians have fled to areas controlled by the Kurdish regional government since the Islamic State group's takeover of Mosul in June.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/dc5dd75cee769aa297dfed1df4e0108b

A child plays outside a UN camp for displaced Iraqis near the Khazer checkpoint on July 17. More than a million people have fled , primarily Shia Turkmen.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/dc5dd75cee769aa297dfed1df4e0108bRyan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

A child plays outside a UN camp for displaced Iraqis near the Khazer checkpoint on July 17. More than a million people have fled , primarily Shia Turkmen.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/e987abe42473edc0fb11afe9581c0637

Iraqis push a car past Kurdish security forces at the Khazer checkpoint between Nineveh and Erbil provinces on July 23.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/e987abe42473edc0fb11afe9581c0637Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Iraqis push a car past Kurdish security forces at the Khazer checkpoint between Nineveh and Erbil provinces on July 23.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/39a116da733aae2839217197b97e00e6

Members of the Hamet family live in a government school classroom in the village of Jarahiyya, July 21. Islamic State group fighters have targeted members of the Shia, Shabak, Yazidi, and Christians.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/39a116da733aae2839217197b97e00e6Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Members of the Hamet family live in a government school classroom in the village of Jarahiyya, July 21. Islamic State group fighters have targeted members of the Shia, Shabak, Yazidi, and Christians.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/b5e23910037b61034a5262e22af1883a

Chaldean Catholic nuns hold the Arabic version of the letter 'N' at a protest on July 24. The symbol has been used by the Islamic State group to mark property belonging to Christians in Mosul.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/b5e23910037b61034a5262e22af1883aRyan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Chaldean Catholic nuns hold the Arabic version of the letter 'N' at a protest on July 24. The symbol has been used by the Islamic State group to mark property belonging to Christians in Mosul.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/15eac0164bce7dafa7b0f5d949faeda5

Leaders of both the Christian and Muslim communities joined a protest in Erbil against the Islamic State group's targeting of minorities on July 24.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/15eac0164bce7dafa7b0f5d949faeda5Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Leaders of both the Christian and Muslim communities joined a protest in Erbil against the Islamic State group's targeting of minorities on July 24.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/932f7da1dff2c7482884ba968a3855e8

An activist chants at a rally in Erbil on July 2. More than 1,200 Iraqis marched in solidarity with Christians forced to flee territories controlled by the Islamic State group.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/932f7da1dff2c7482884ba968a3855e8Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

An activist chants at a rally in Erbil on July 2. More than 1,200 Iraqis marched in solidarity with Christians forced to flee territories controlled by the Islamic State group.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/47292983c5c39d51a52697a3d2e42ce0

Protesters at a rally in Erbil on July 24 carry a sign in Syriac, the liturgical language of most Iraqi Christians. The language, which is the written form of Aramaic, is believed to have been spoken by Jesus.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/47292983c5c39d51a52697a3d2e42ce0Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

Protesters at a rally in Erbil on July 24 carry a sign in Syriac, the liturgical language of most Iraqi Christians. The language, which is the written form of Aramaic, is believed to have been spoken by Jesus.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/94c47efe2eb2b4f380e1349be53cbcea

A Muslim at a protest in Erbil on July 24 carries the Arabic version of the letter 'N'. The symbol is short for 'Nazarene', an archaic Arabic term used to describe Christians by the Islamic state group.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Christians_flee_Islamic_State_rule/slideshow/no-caption/94c47efe2eb2b4f380e1349be53cbceaRyan Rodrick Beiler/Al Jazeera

A Muslim at a protest in Erbil on July 24 carries the Arabic version of the letter 'N'. The symbol is short for 'Nazarene', an archaic Arabic term used to describe Christians by the Islamic state group.



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