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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ISIS militants take over Christian monastery in Iraq - After 1600 Years, Monks Ejected From Mar Behnam


Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stormed the Saint Behnam monastery (The Monastery of the Martyrs Saint Behnam and his Sister Sarah) on Monday, located 30 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

News agency quoted a cleric who heard the militants saying, "You have no place here anymore; you have to leave immediately." The monks were reportedly forced to abandon all their possessions and leave the monastery with nothing except the clothes they were wearing.

Christian families in the area said nearly nine monks may have been living in the monastery. Several hundred Christian families living in Mosul were forced to flee from their homes over the weekend after ISIS fighters demanded that they convert to Islam or pay a special tax. In some cases, local residents were given an ultimatum to either leave or face death at the hands of ISIS fighters.

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The Saint Behnam or Mar Behnam is a prominent Christian pilgrimage site in Iraq where devotees pray for healing and fertility. It was built in the fourth century by the Assyrian king Sennacherib II, who killed his two children Behnam and Sarah for converting to Christianity.



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