Reading the latter [Koran] is one of the most … instructive things imaginable because the eye easily discovers there, by very closely observing, all the threads by which the prophet held and still holds the members of his sect. … [T]hat the first of all religious duties is to blindly obey the prophet, that holy war is the first of all good deeds … [A]ll these doctrines of which the practical outcome is obvious are found on every page and in almost every word of the Koran are so striking that I cannot understand how any man with good sense could miss them.
—Alexis de Tocqueville, March, 1838
Iraq’s Yazidis are an indigenous, ancient, pre-Islamic non-Muslim religious minority whose syncretic beliefs derive, in part, from Zoroastrianism. Over the past 3-weeks, world attention has riveted on the Yazidis’ (Yezidis’) horrific plight, targeted by the latest jihad rampages of the “Islamic State” (IS/IL) butchers, and subjected to massacre, rape, enslavement, and forced conversion to Islam. Indeed, ever grudgingly, the non-Muslim world has been compelled to acknowledge IS/IL’s ghastly, murderous jihad rampages against both the Christian and Yazidi religious minorities of northern Iraq.
Per President Obama’s address Thursday evening, 8/7/14, the U.S. initiated both humanitarian air-drops to those Yazidi refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar, Iraq, and bombing runs against IS/IL positions outside Erbil, Kurdistan. Unquestionably, the Yazidis—and Christians—remain in a parlous state.
However, due to the efforts of the Kurdish PKK militia—a U.S.-designated terror group—some ~50,000 Yazidis were evacuated from the Sinjar Mountains within a week of President Obama’s announcement. Der Spiegel reported that PKK fighters who controlled the region on the Syrian side of the border, liberated the road to Sinjar, and established a network of refugee camps for the beleaguered Yazidis. The PKK’s successful evacuation undertaking prompted U.S. Special Forces—who landed in the Sinjar mountains last Wednesday (8/13/14)—to cancel their own plans to organize a rescue airlift for the (ostensibly tens of thousands of) stranded Yazidis.
Assessing these developments, last Friday, 8/15/14, mainstream conservative icon Charles Krauthammer sniped,
He [President Obama] declares victory with the Yazidis two days ago, and we hear about this horrific massacre [i.e., of 80 Yazidi men in Kocho, Iraq] today
Krauthammer’s self-assuredly mordant “take,” reflects a widely shared—albeit sham—mainstream conservative narrative dogmatically articulated by Iraq veteran, and another frequent Fox News contributor, Pete Hegseth, published 8/16/14 at NRO:
[T]he surge of U.S. forces in 2007 and 2008 created an environment in which a multi-ethnic, mostly moderate, and quasi-stable U.S. ally could (could!) flourish in the Middle East.
Last week also marked the seventh anniversary of a cataclysmic “mid-surge” jihadist attack on Iraq’s Yazidis—conveniently and unanimously ignored by Krauthammer, Hegseth, and all conservative “surge” romanticizers. August 14, 2007, when the surging U.S. had 166,000 troops on the ground in Iraq—not the mere one-fifth (or one-tenth) residual numbers pined for by those who insist the failure to secure a 2011 status of forces agreement with the al-Maliki regime sealed the undoing of Iraq’s “stability”—796 Yazidis were slaughtered, and another 1562 wounded, in one day, during four gruesomely synchronized jihadist bombings. (see here, here, and U.S. army confirmation of death toll, here). Veteran Middle East journalist Tom Gross provided this characterization of the events:
[T]wo tons of explosives detonated in four coordinated explosions in the northern Iraqi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera on August 14, 2007, the target was Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic and religious minority. 796 people died and over 1,500 were wounded as a fireball led to the collapse of mud and stone buildings on families trapped inside; many were then burned alive.
Such a glaring lacuna in honest, self-critical discourse, i.e., omitting all discussion of the 8/14/07 mass-murderous, “mid-surge” Yazidi catastrophe, is pathognomonic of a broader, much more disturbing ethical and intellectual travesty: ongoing attempts by mainstream conservatives to rationalize their uninformed, witless adherence to the utopian “Lewis-doctrine”-inspired “Islamic democracy” fiasco in Iraq. Born of sheer willful ignorance about living Islamic doctrine, and history, this deficient mindset begot a corollary dangerous absurdity: embrace of the Petraeus “COIN” theory, a see no jihad, see no Islam military strategy designed, perversely, to somehow “defeat” the ancient-cum-modern forces of global Islamic jihadism.
The current predicament of Iraq’s Yazidis, and Christians, past as prologue, illustrates, starkly, mainstream conservative ignorance and dishonesty about Islam, and the creed’s timeless sine qua non institution, jihad.
Iraq’s Yazidis and Christians Under “Tolerant” Ottoman Islam: Past as Prologue
Sadly, IS/IL’s bloody attacks on the Yazidis reflect a continuum of religiously-inspired, chronic Islamic oppression of this minority group, interspersed with paroxysms of violence no less brutal than what is now taking place.
Sir Austen Henry Layard (1817-1894) was a British polymath—archaeologist, author, politician, and diplomat—perhaps best known for his the excavations in northern Mesopotamia, contemporary Iraq.
Layard recorded the following, based upon first hand observations, and historical assessments, about the chronic plight of the Yazidis (Yezidis) under Islamic domination in his 1849, Nineveh and Its Remains. His focus, appropriately, given the time frame, was upon the depredations against the Yazidis during the allegedly “tolerant” Ottoman Muslim era: massacre, pillage, and deportation and enslavement of their male and female children, for “service” in the vast Ottoman slave institutions, including harem slavery.
They [the Yazidis] have the choice between conversion and the sword, and its is unlawful even to take tribute [jizya, per Koran 9:29, the deliberately debasing poll-tax, and related regulations imposed upon non-Muslim Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians subjugated by jihad] from them. The Yezidis, not being looked upon as “Masters of a Book,” [i.e., scriptures, “acknowledged,” at least in part, by Islam] have been exposed for centuries to the persecution of the Mohammedans. The harems of the south of Turkey have been recruited from them. Yearly expeditions have been made by the governors of provinces into their districts; and whilst the men and women were slaughtered without mercy, the children of both sexes were carried off, and exposed for sale in the principal towns. These annual hunts were one of the sources of revenue…and its was the custom of the Pashas of Baghdad and Mosul, to let loose the irregular troops upon the ill-fated Yezidis, as an easy method of satisfying their demands for arrears of pay.
This system was still practiced to a certain extent within a very few months of my visit; and gave rise to atrocities scarcely equaled in the better known slave trade.
Layard described a series of specific Muslim depredations against the Yazidis that took place in 1832, near Mosul and Sinjar:
[Mosul] It was in spring; the river had overflowed its banks, and the bridge of boats had been removed. A few succeeded in crossing the stream; but a vast crowd of men, women, and children were left upon the great mound of Kouyunjik. The (Kurdish Muslim) Bey of Rowandiz followed them. An indiscriminate slaughter ensued…
[Sinjar] The inhabitants of the Sinjar were soon subdued after subdued by Mehemet Rashid Pasha, and a second time by Hafiz Pasha. On both occasions there was a massacre, and the population was reduced by three-fourths. The Yezidis took refuge in caves, where they were either suffocated by fires lighted at the mouth, or by the discharges of cannon.
Six decades later, during 1892, Oswald Hutton Parry’s eyewitness travelogue, Six Months in a Syrian Monastery: (Being the record of a visit to the head quarters of the Syrian church in Mesopotamia, with some account of the Yazidis or devil worshippers of Mosul and El Jilwah, their sacred book), published in 1895, included an assessment of renewed jihadism against the Yazidis perpetrated under the aegis of Ottoman Lieutenant-General Umar Wahbi Pasha, and his minions, in a chapter entitled (with some irony), “The ‘Conversion’ of the Yazidis.” Those who refused to convert, were tortured, and cast into prison, where some died, and others professed Islam under this coercion. Muslim soldiers were sent to Yazidi villages and the inhabitants were “ordered to accept Islam, or be slain.” Indeed, some 400-500 Yazidi men were slain, the “pretty women and girls” taken captive, and “married” to the killers of their husbands. Surviving Yazidi children were gathered, and forcibly converted to Islam. Parry recorded this eyewitness account:
[W]orst of all was what happened to those who refused to change their faith. The men were cruelly tortured, and killed, the women taken away, outraged, or killed. One [Yazidi] Sheikh was cut into many pieces and thrown over a rock; another ground like corn between two millstones. The women were at the mercy of the soldiers. Some fled, and to escape dishonor cast themselves from a high rock and were slain…[A] number of young girls were hidden near the olive groves, in some long grass; savagely fire [was] set all around, and with screams too fearful to hear, they were all burned to death. A young girl soon to be a mother, was pursued to the Syrian church, where the priest gave her refuge. The soldiers found her, and having committed unspeakable things, killed her near the sanctuary. The Kurds of the mountains, encouraged by these things, came down, and added much cruelty and outrage to what was already done.
Parry also noted how these Ottoman Muslim atrocities were,
perpetrated not only in the name of the government and by a high official claiming direct authority from the [Ottoman] Sultan, but also in direct contravention of the firman [edict] of 1847 granting (allegedly!) the free exercise of their religion to the Yazidis.
The results, too, are far reaching. At least 400 people were killed; hundreds of acres left unsown; a whole province drained of its resources, and crippled for years; and all that happens is an inspector is sent, and the author of all this brutality imprisoned.
C.J. Edmonds 1967, A Pilgrimage to Lalish, includes this rather understated comment about the Yazidis’ ongoing “predicament” vis-à-vis Islam, and Muslims:
They [the Yazidis] tended to be regarded, rather, as apostates and were thus always exposed to the danger that persons in authority, high or low, with a streak of fanaticism in their make-up might think it not only only legitimate but even meritorious to maltreat them.
Sparing “detail,” Edmonds adds, importantly, that in “operations legitimated by fatwas from the ulama and supported as often as not, by the neighboring Arab and Kurdish tribes,” the Yazidis were subjected to “savage persecution” during the Ottoman era,
at the hands of the Turks throughout the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries, marked as they were by a score of punitive expeditions mounted by the Walis [governors] of Diyarbakir, Mosul, or Baghdad…One of the bloodiest was the holy war waged against them in 1832 by the Kurdish Muhammad Pasha ‘Boss-eye’ of Rawandiz, the concluding drama of which is described in Layard’s Nineveh and its Remains…
Despite Layard’s own subsequent diplomatic efforts, and the inchoate Ottoman “reforms,” especially after the Crimean War, which transiently alleviated the Yazidis’ lot, Edmonds observed,
improvement did not last very long, and the calamity that now [circa 1967]looms largest in the communal [Yazidi] memory is the ‘Year of the General’, 1892, when Umar Wahbi Pasha descended on their villages with fire and sword, giving them the choice between adoption of adoption of Islam or death…
Focusing upon the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syrian Orthodox Christian populations of northern Iraq (then Mesopotamia), and eastern Anatolia, historian David Gaunt’s pioneering 2006 study described what befell them, two decades later, under the Ottomans, in 1915. Gaunt noted that “an intense extermination of the Christians was completed in a short period between June and September 1915”—killings on a grisly scale of magnitude far beyond IS/IL’s exploits. Most of the 250,000 eventually slaughtered during the years between 1914 and 1919 were killed in this compressed 4-month time frame.
After describing the “concrete details” of what he characterized as the “Ottoman ethnic and religious wars and the full scale of religiously-inspired massacres,” Gaunt concluded with this summary assessment which conveyed the sheer horror and depravity of these jihad ravages:
The degree of extermination and the brutality of the massacres indicate extreme pent-up hatred on the popular level. Christians, the so-called gawur [also giaour or ghiaour] infidels, were killed in almost all sorts of situations. They were collected at the local town hall, walking in the streets, fleeing on the roads, at harvest, in the villages, in the caves and tunnels, in the caravanserais [an inn with a central courtyard], in the prisons, under torture, on the river rafts, on road repair gangs, on the way to be put on trial. There was no specific and technological way of carrying out the murders like the Nazis’ extermination camps. A common feature was those killed were unarmed, tied up, or otherwise defenseless. All possible methods of killing were used: shooting, stabbing, stoning, crushing, throat cutting, throwing off of roofs, drowning, decapitation. Witnesses talk of seeing collections of ears and noses and of brigands boasting of their collections of female body parts. The perpetrators not only killed but humiliated the victims…In several instances, decapitated heads of well-known Christians, such as Hanne Safar of Midyat and Ibrahim the Syriac priest of Sa’irt were used as footballs…In Derike, the Syriac Catholic priest Ibrahim Qrom had his beard torn off and was then forced to crawl on all fours with a tormentor on his back, while others kicked him, stabbed him, and finally cut him to pieces.
Virtually every deportation caravan and village massacre was accompanied by serial mass rape of the women. Young girls were abducted as sex slaves and children as household servants. Even when they were not killed outright, the women were often stripped of their clothes. The homes of Christians were broken into, plundered, furniture smashed, windows, and doors removed, set on fire. Sometimes a survivor had little to return home to.
The number of perpetrators of the local massacres was staggering. Apparently the local officials….or the local politicians…had no difficulty in motivating the populace for extermination. The officials established death squads from middle-aged Muslim men. National Assembly deputies…agitated among the Kurdish tribes and even managed to get notorious outlaws…to cooperate in return for loot, adventure, and a promise of amnesty. On a few occasions, Muslim women were present, for instance…at the public humiliation of Christian dignitaries, but mostly the perpetrators were males. There were literally thousands of perpetrators, most of them locals.
Ugly Pre- And Post-“Surge” Realities for Iraq’s Minorities
When President George W. Bush announced the much ballyhooed “surge,” during 2007, he maintained the overall objectives for this great expenditure of precious U.S. blood and treasure were to establish a “…unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror.” Any rational post-mortem indicates none of those goals were achieved, from either an Iraqi or sober U.S. perspective, even in the near term, let alone chronically.
Before the surge wound down in June, 2008, but at the height of its alleged “success,” a March 2008 poll from Iraq found that 42% of Iraqis labeled attacks on U.S. forces acceptable, and only 4% believed that U.S. forces were responsible for the transient decline in violence. The poll also revealed that 61% maintained that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq was actually worsening the security situation.
In July 2008, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and Iraqi National security advisor Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie both sought a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. A cursory, incomplete tally of murderous sectarian Sunni-Shiite car bombings in Iraq for the 4-years after the surge, i.e. June, 2008 through June, 2012 reveals at least 65 with 2000 dead and 2- to 3-fold that number injured, many seriously. More importantly, then Iraqi President Talabani attended an Orwellian Counter-terrorism Conference in Tehran (June 25–26, 2011), just 6-months before the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Not only did our Iraqi “ally” fail to object to the conference agitprop of their Iranian hosts — “defining” the United States and Israel as the primary sources of global terrorism,
In his meeting with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, [Iran’s Supreme Theocrat Leader] Khamenei said that U.S. power in the Middle East had declined, and that this fact should be taken advantage of against the U.S. Talabani replied that the Iraqis were united in their opposition to the ongoing U.S. presence in their country, and likewise asked for Iranian assistance.
Post-surge Iraq — the paragon of General David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine “triumph” — rapidly deteriorated, well-before the emergence of IS/IL, per se, into a hotbed of anti-Christian, and anti-Yazidi, Islamic brutality.
As reported December 5, 2011, in the Wall Street Journal, according to Archbishop Louis Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Sulimaniya, at least fifty-four Iraqi churches had been bombed and at least 905 Christians killed in various acts of violence since the US invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Noting that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled, the archbishop stated: “It’s a hemorrhage. Iraq could be emptied of Christians.”
Archbishop Louis Sako’s assessment was confirmed by a Minority Rights Group International report, released at the end of November 2011, which included these summary findings:
Since 2003, Iraq’s religious minority communities have been targeted for abduction, rape and murder and had their homes and businesses destroyed, specifically because of their faith. They have received threats and intimidations to pay a protection tax, convert to Islam, or leave their homes and country. The violations against religious minorities documented by MRG in its 2010 report continue. Major areas of ongoing concern are Baghdad, Nineveh Plains, Mosul and Kirkuk. . . . Christians are at particular risk for a number of reasons, including religious ties with the West, perceptions that Christians are better off than most Iraqis, and leadership positions in the pre-2003 government. The fact that Christians, along with Yezidis, continue to trade in alcohol in Iraq (both groups have traditionally sold alcohol in Iraq), has also made them a target in an increasingly strict Islamic environment. Waves of targeted violence, sometimes in response to the community’s lobbying for more inclusive policies (for example, reserved seats in elections) have forced the Christian community to disperse and seek refuge in neighboring countries and across the world. In 2003, they numbered between 800,000 and 1.4 million; by July 2011, that number had fallen to 500,000, according to USCIRF [the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom].
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCRIF)
Report on Iraq, December, 2008, chronicled the oppressions to which the Yazidis were subjected—including mass killings—after the U.S. invasion in 2003, through the end of the “surge”:
Yazidis, Yazidi leaders, and Yazidi sites in Iraq have suffered threats and attacks since at least 2004. Minority Rights Group International reports that there were 25 reported killings of and 50 reported violent crimes targeting Yazidis from September to December 2004. These incidents included two men being beheaded days after being threatened by conservative Muslims for failing to abide by a smoking ban during Ramadan. In Mosul in March 2004, flyers could be found stating that divine awards awaited those who killed Yazidis and in 2007, the Islamic State of Iraq, issued a fatwa calling for all Yazidis to be killed. In September 2004, the Yazidi spiritual leader survived a bombing attack in Aif Sifni. Yazidi cultural buildings and private property were damaged after dozens of Kurds attacked Shaikhan in retribution for two Yazidi men being found in a car with a married Kurdish woman in 2007. On April 22, 2007, unidentified gunmen killed 23 Yazidis from the Kurdish town of Bashika. Reportedly, the gunmen stopped a bus outside of Mosul, discerned the Yazidis on the bus from their identity cards, told all other passengers to get off the bus, and drove the Yazidi men to eastern Mosul, where they were lined up against a wall and executed. Yazidi refugees told the Commission that after this incident, members of their community in Mosul started receiving threatening letters, spurring many to flee the city. The scale of the attacks against Yazidis increased dramatically on August 14, 2007, when four coordinated suicide bombings in the northern Yazidi towns of Qahtaniya and Jazeera killed 796 civilians and wounded another 1,562. The attack, which destroyed the two towns and left more than 1,000 Yazidi families homeless, followed…letters and leaflets condemning Yazidis as “infidels” and “anti-Islamic.” The UN reported that, in the first half of 2008, at least 5 Yazidis were killed in Sinjar. On December 7, 2008, two Yazidis reportedly were killed in a liquor store in Mosul. On the night of December 14, 2008, seven members of a Yazidi family were gunned down in their home in Sinjar. Minority Rights Group International reports that those Yazidis who remain in Iraq are fearful of traveling outside their communities, which has led many farmers to lose their livelihoods because they no longer go to markets to sell their produce. Yazidis with whom the Commission met report members of the community having to depend on middlemen to sell their produce. Many Yazidis have been attacked for owning alcohol shops, although The New York Times has reported that some Yazidis opened liquor businesses in Baghdad in late 2007. Yazidis have reported to the Commission that Muslims refuse to frequent their businesses or businesses that employ Yazidis because Muslims consider them to be “dirty.” Many Yazidis have stopped performing religious ceremonies, fearful of being attacked. Yazidis also complain of being underrepresented in local government and of their representatives being barred from or ignored in meetings.
Sebastian Maisel, an American academic researcher studying the Yazidis, updated their situation since the 2011 U.S. troop withdrawal, and noted continued attacks against them, beyond the Kurdish controlled areas, prior to the IS/IL jihadist depredations:
On May 14, 2013 ten Yezidi shopkeepers were killed during an armed attack on alcohol vendors in Baghdad. It is worth mentioning that only non-Muslims are permitted to sell alcohol, and that the armed forces do little to protect them. The Muslim-majority public looks down upon the industry and those who work in it, adding to the anti-Yezidi discourse. In an increasingly segregated Iraqi society, Yezidis have not found acceptance or safety outside their traditional realm.
Dr. Munqith M. Dagher, is a bona-fide Iraqi pollster. His polling organization, IIACSS, Iraq, during June 2008, following “more than two years of testing, monitoring and evaluation” of its research practices, was recognized as a full member of the Gallup International Association. Dr. Dagher was kind enough to send me a recent slide presentation he put together, entitled, “ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] in Iraq: A disease or just the symptoms? A public opinion analysis.” His presentation, made soon after Mosul fell, included these sobering data (verbatim) which underscored that the violent changes in Mosul were wrought by an indigenous, broad-based Sunni insurgency:
The population of Mosul is around 2,000,000. Most of them are Arab Sunni.
Total number of security forces in Mosul was between 120,000 to 150,000 armed with light, medium and heavy weapons including tanks and air force.
Who is Fighting in Mosul and the Sunni Areas of Iraq?
10-20% ISIL; Several Iraqi armed groups with full coordination on the ground:
1- Baathist (6 different groups including former Iraqi army officers under the name of Jihad and Liberty Front).
2- Moderate Islamist [note: whatever that means!]
3- Tribal rebels
Dagher concluded, with understatement, “IS/IL benefited from the wide, strong dissatisfaction among Sunnis.” Most striking, were data from 200 telephone interviews of Mosul residents conducted in the period of June 19-21, 2014, i.e., after the city had come under control by the Sunni insurgents, including the jihad terror organization ISIL. Two key sentiments were apparent in the immediate aftermath of the Sunni takeover, as revealed by Dagher’s polling data:
- 81.5% of Mosul’s predominantly Sunni residents felt more secure after the Sunni insurgents seized control of the city;
- they overwhelmingly rejected—i.e., 84.5% — U.S. involvement with the (longstanding Iranian proxy) Maliki government to repulse the Sunni insurgents, including ISIL.
Dagher’s hard data—combined with the independent testimonies of Yazidi and Christian survivors of this Sunni jihad—put the lie to another false notion promulgated by mainstream conservatives: that the bloody exploits against the Yazidi and Christian minorities of northern Iraq were somehow committed solely by IS/IL “extremists” in the absence of widespread Sunni Muslim support. Both Yazidi and Christian refugees from these jihad depredations have explained how local Sunni Muslims, their erstwhile “neighbors,” not only aided and abetted IS/IL, but were more responsible for killings, other atrocities, and expulsions than the “foreign” invading jihadists. For example, Sabah Hajji Hassan, a 68-year-old Yazidi, lamented,
The (non-Iraqi) jihadists were Afghans, Bosnians, Arabs and even Americans and British fighters. But the worst killings came from the people living among us, our (Sunni) Muslim neighbors. The Metwet, Khawata and Kejala tribes—they were all our neighbors. But they joined the IS [Islamic State; ISIL], took heavy weapons from them, and informed on who was Yazidi and who was not. Our neighbors made the IS takeover possible.
Jamal Jamir, a 23-year-old Yazidi university student from Sinjar, told CNN that following IS/IL’s arrival in his town, his Arab neighbors turned on the minorities and assisted in the killings
“They join them, and actually they kill us.
“People you know?” CNN asked.
“Yes,” he responded. “People—our neighbors!”
Another confirmatory account was reported by Der Spiegel, which revealed how refugee Yazidis
described Muslim neighbors,
…who suddenly became turned into their enemies, becoming accomplices to the IS. This attack, it appears, followed a pattern established in previous offenses. First, a discrete network of informants was established over a long period of time, including Arabs from surrounding villages, Turkmens and even some Kurds.
[Unnamed Christian refugee]: We left Mosul because ISIL came to the city. The [Sunni] people of Mosul embraced ISIS and drove the Christians out of the city. When ISIS entered Mosul, the people hailed them and drove out the Christians. Why did they expel just the Christians from Mosul? There are many sects in Mosul. Why just the Christians? This is nothing new. Even before, the Christians could not go anywhere. The Christians have faced threats of murder, kidnapping, jizya [deliberately humiliating “poll-tax,” per Koran 9:29, imposed upon non-Muslim Jews/Christians/Zoroastrians, vanquished by jihad, along with a slew of other “sacralized” debasing regulations] This is nothing new. […] I was told to leave Mosul. They said that this was a Muslim country, not a Christian one. I am being very honest. They said that this land belongs to Islam and that Christians should not live there.
[Interviewer]: Who told you that?
[Christian refugee]: The people who embraced ISIS, the people who lived there with us…
[Interviewer]: Your neighbors?
[Christian refugee]: Yes, my neighbors. Our neighbors and other people threatened us.
The question remains: how much longer will U.S. conservative “pundits,” and policymaking elites persist in their denial about how such jihad carnage is a recurring, grass roots, traditionalist Islamic phenomenon?