|St. Matthew's Monastery is recognized as one of the oldest Christian monasteries in Iraq. |
Today, it looks down on the hills of one of Iraq's most active frontlines
against the Islamic State. USA TODAY
Obama Starves Kurds of Weapons
- ISIS is on the march and America's deliberate policy is to starve the Kurds of weapons to defeat Islamist monsters.
A 1,650-year-old monastery in northern Iraq, one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world, is in danger of falling to ISIS… “Speak up. Of course there is good people in the Islam people. Not all are bad, I believe. But where is the good people? Where is their voice? Nothing!” Archbishop Sharaf said. “Where is their voice? Few! Few!”
(From Jihad Watch) - St. Matthew’s monastery, founded in A.D. 363, has survived the Ottoman and Persian Empires, Mongol invaders and Kurdish conquests. Today it’s threatened by ISIS. Only three monks remain.
It has served as a place of refuge for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities for centuries, but now its very existence is threatened.
Some of the earliest Christians sought safety there. And when Islamic hordes stormed the city of Mosul, just 20 miles away, last June, the monastery’s thick stone walls again became a safe haven.
Located about 20 miles north of Mosul, the monastery is in protected Kurdish territory but is just a little more than three miles from the front lines of battle.
“We can see the battles and the airstrikes from here in front of us, especially at night. The sky lights up at night, but we of course are not scared. God protects us,” Father Yousif Ibrahim, one of three monks who resides in the monastery, told USA Today. There are also six students living at St. Matthew’s.
|St. Matthew’s Monastery|
Before Iraq fell into chaos, the monastery was home to thousands of nuns, priests and students with the Syriac Orthodox Church. The ancient church traces its founding back to the time of Christ. Some of its earliest founders may have personally known Jesus Christ. They still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
It houses one of the most ancient Christian libraries in the region. Many of the oldest manuscripts have been removed and taken to Kurdish-controlled areas.
Christian refugees running out of places to hide
More than 125,000 Christians have been forced from their homes over the past 12 months. They now live as refugees, most of them in the semi-autonomous state of Kurdistan.
ISIS has previously vowed to destroy all Christian historical sites in the areas that fall under its control. In March, it destroyed the ancient Christian Mar Behnam Monastery in the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq.
The jihadists have desecrated Christian cemeteries, seized Christian girls for sex slaves and killed other children in front of their parents’ eyes.
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|Yousif Ibrahim, the head monk at Saint Matthew's Monastery, laments the |
ever present struggle the Christian community faces in Iraq.