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In pictures: Iraqi Christians protest IS's advance

More than 1,200 Christians marched in a demonstration to the UN headquarters in Erbil during a visit in late July by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
Iraqi Christians, many of whom who had fled Mosul, protest against Islamic State (photo: MEE/Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

In late July, more than 1,200 Christians marched in a demonstration to the UN headquarters in Erbil during a visit by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Many of those marching wore shirts or signs spray-painted with the Arabic letter “N” - for the word Nasrani meaning “Nazarene” or “Christian” - the symbol used by IS forces to mark Christian homes in Mosul. Christians weren’t the only ones marching. Leaders of Erbil’s Muslim community walked side by side with Chaldean Catholic and Orthodox clergy to demand an end to the violence.

Since June 10, when Islamist militants calling themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria captured the Iraqi city of Mosul, tens of thousands of minorities have fled, seeking shelter in homes, schools and UN-run camps in areas under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government.

According to Human Rights Watch, IS has kidnapped at least 200 Turkmen, Shabaks, and Yazidis, killing at least 11 of them since taking over Mosul. 

Another wave of displacement came in the weeks after the initial takeover of when IS forces announced that any remaining Christian residents could either convert to Islam, pay a tax, leave or be put to death. Those who fled saved their lives but little else. All money or valuables were taken by IS forces—sometimes including the vehicles people were fleeing in, forcing them to continue on foot.