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LIVES - RUINED IN AN INSTANT: Iraqi Catholics in Lebanon recount their harrowing ordeal

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/12/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Family forced to leave home with little more than clothes on backs

Now living in Lebanon, a Catholic family who was forced to flee their home in Mosul, Iraq, have begun to share their horrific ordeal at the hands of Islamic State rebels. The family's patriarch has vivid memories of that June evening. "These people know no limits of humanity, decency, or respect for human life," he said of the Islamic State fighters.

Meeting with reporters in his adopted homeland of Lebanon, the father asked that he and his families real names not be used.

Meeting with reporters in his adopted homeland of Lebanon, the father asked that he and his families real names not be used.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/12/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Iraq, Islamic State, catholic families, Lebanon


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Meeting with reporters in his adopted homeland of Lebanon, the father asked that he and his families real names not be used. 

He recalled how his wife and their teenage son, were in their living room while their two other children were asleep late one evening. They then heard an explosion-like crash. Four militants then burst into their house, guns aimed at the heads of father and son.

SAVE Iraqi Christians from Genocide --

"Give us your gold and valuables," he said they demanded. Filled with fear, his wife tried to calmly gather all jewelry she had. One of the militants, noticing his son's cross, ripped off the chain and started to beat the boy, accusing the family of withholding their gold.

"What's for sure is they (the terrorists) are not all Iraqis. The ones with the beards are not Iraqis," he said. The terrorists then warned they would return to the family in 48 hours. At that time, the family must convert to Islam, pay the Islamic jizya tax -- or be killed.

"We were happy, our life was good," he said, collapsing in tears. "All the work of my father and myself and my brothers, all the years . gone in just a few seconds," he said of the trading company he had to abandon.

"I went to the cemetery and said good-bye to my father, and I went to Mass in my church to receive the Eucharist," the father said, recounting his actions of the following day. "I think it was the last Mass celebrated in my village. And I thought, if I'm meant to die at this time, at least I'm in God's house."

Fleeing to Irbil the night after the attack, they boarded a flight to Beirut. The militants had told Joseph's neighbors -- an 85-year-old woman, partially paralyzed by a stroke, and her 60-year-old daughter -- they had six hours to leave their home.

Leaving on foot, with the daughter assisting her disabled mother along the road, the father hopes that they were able to find a ride.

Finding a furnished apartment in Beirut, the rent is rather steep at $850 a month. He's now searching for cheaper accommodations, but jobs in tiny, economically strapped Lebanon are hard to find. New refugees have to compete with other refugees for work.

"My children ask me, 'What will we do?' (Islamic State) made us leave Iraq, and now (it) is in Lebanon," he said, referring to the incursion August 2 by the Islamic militants into a Lebanese town 55 miles northeast of Beirut. "They are afraid."

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