Yesterday, suddenly, acts of warfare and terror became more than academic to Osama Edward of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network. Christian relatives of his in Syria had disappeared.
[He] told the BBC that his wife’s elderly aunt and her cousin were among the hostages. “My wife tried to call her cousin’s house and there was somebody who picked up the phone and said: ‘This is not Akram’s house. This is the Islamic State’s house‘.”
The aunt and cousin weren’t the only ones. Other human-rights organizations reported that between 70 and 100 women and children had been taken hostage in multiple early-morning raids. According to the BBC,
Activists reported that IS fighters swept through a string of villages along the south bank of the Khabur river before dawn on Monday. Residents of villages on the north bank fled, with about 3,000 believed to have headed for Hassakeh and Qamishli, another city to the north-east.
Islamic State’s online radio station, al-Bayan, reported on Tuesday that its members had seized “tens of Crusaders”. …
Assyrians, of whom there were about 40,000 in Syria, are Nestorian Christians and speak Syriac, a form of Aramaic, the language of Christ. … Many Assyrians are believed to have fled Syria not only to escape the conflict but also violent attacks by extremist groups like IS, which has forced Christians living in the territory it controls to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy (jizya) or face death. … A few weeks ago, Assyrians in the area were instructed by IS to remove crosses from churches and pay jizya.
Islamic doctrine says that in return for paying jizya — essentially a tax on non-Muslims — people should be permitted
… to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, [and] to be entitled to the Muslim state’s protection from outside aggression.
ISIS, by running a protection racket without the protection, makes a mockery of that concept. At this point, the so-called Islamic State is as much an organized-crime syndicate as a cult of religious butchers. The former is preferable to the latter, it seems to me. When people are driven by greed, their hostages have a pretty good chance of survival — you don’t damage the merchandise. When people are instead motivated by religion, however, extreme brutality can be a kind of blood purification, a way into God’s heart. Surely, to a devout Muslim, to successfully curry favor with Allah is worth infinitely more than any earthly reward.
I hope for the sake of of the Assyrian captives that I’m wrong.
(Image via Shutterstock)