The minorities of Syria and Iraq have not escaped discrimination at the hands of ISIS. The Christians are no exception and Georges Kahwaji, a local from the countryside of Homs, recalls how ISIS militants subjugated and harassed the province’s Christian population.
Georges used to live in a monastery in the outskirts of Homs until ISIS militants stormed the area and captured all of the resident Christians. They were put into a tunnel and their ID and passports were forcibly confiscated.
Georges himself recounts how he was tortured and humiliated by the ISIS militants and was forced to convert. He is still unaware of the whereabouts of his family and children.
There are certain groups of Christians who have been able to resist ISIS. For instance, dozens of Syriac-Assyrian Christians in Raqqa, ISIS’ main stronghold within Syria, united to fight against the terrorist group. Many have also joined multi-ethnic groups such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in order to be able to put up a fight.
Discrimination against Iraq’s Christians has been well documented and recorded throughout ISIS’ campaign to purge the country of elements deemed to be “heretic” to their discriminatory ideology. ISIS has been known to desecrate churches, smash religious icons and force Christians to convert. Some are demanding that these damaged sites be restored.
Many of the territories that were formerly in ISIS hands have now been restored and some of the local Christians are returning to their homes.
Christians have not been the only group that has suffered immensely due to ISIS repression. The Yazidi population of Iraq has also been targeted by the terrorist group on several occasions over the past 3 years, having committed massacres on a large scale against both groups. The Head of the Syriac Cultural Association recently called for unity of oppressed minorities on the 3rd anniversary of the Yazidi genocide that occurred in 2014 in the Sinjar region.