Christians relate stress under ISIS rule

Christians who managed to survive under the rule of so-called Islamic State (ISIS) have related their experiences. 

In interviews conducted with the Egyptian newspaper al Ahram in the Kurdish town of Erbil, Ismail Matti of Bartalla and elderly Zarifa Bakoos Daddo of Qaraqosh spoke of being caught unprepared by the ISIS advance of 2014 and their lives in occupied territory.

According to Ismail, who was 14 at the time and had stayed with his mother who was too ill to flee, he ended up in a Mosul prison along with his parent, where they were shown a dead Shia Muslim and given an ultimatum. “They told my mother the same thing would happen to me if we refused to convert,” Ismail explained. So we converted.”

Later, after their release to Bartalla: “All our neighbours were [ISIS]. They would come to check if I was following the sharia. If they found that I hadn’t been to the mosque, I sometimes got lashes.”

Trapped in Qaraqosh with her husband, who would later die, Zarifa Bakoos Daddo, who is 77 related how members of ISIS came to demand money and her conversion. Although she handed over what savings she had, Zarifa defied the order to convert.

“One time, a young one, maybe 20 or 21, came and said we should convert. I told him we had our beliefs and they had theirs,” she said. “He told me to spit on a picture of the Virgin Mary and a crucifix. I refused but he made me. The whole time I was telling God in my heart that I did not mean any of this.

“I knew God heard me because he tried to burn the picture and his lighter didn’t work,” she added.