France says it will take in fleeing Iraqi Christians

(Photo: REUTERS / Azad Lashkari)Demonstrators from various religions gather during a protest against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Arbil, north of Baghdad July 24, 2014. Hundreds of Iraqi Christians marched to the United Nations office in Arbil city on Thursday calling for help for families who fled in the face of threats by Islamic State militants.

France says it is prepared to open its borders to Iraqi Christians facing persecution from the extremist |Islamic State formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group also known as ISIL.

In a joint statement, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve denounced the IS for driving away Iraqi Christians for their religious beliefs.

"France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," the officials said, has reported.

The officials said the French government was open to the idea of providing asylum to hundreds of Christians being driven away by the IS, which took control of several key areas in Iraq.

"We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil," they said. "We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them."

The officials pointed out that the persecution of Christians in Mosul, which militants took control from the Iraqi government, was tragic considering they are a "historically integral part of the region."

They also called the IS ultimatum to Christians a "terrible threat" to the civilian population.

IS members took control of Mosul in Northern Iraq and established an Islamic caliphate that sought control in the area.

Fighters then began to drive away Iraqi Christians there, warning them to either "convert or die."

Hundreds of Iraqi Christians belonging to the Chaldean Catholic Church started a mass exodus in Mosul, fearing reprisal from the jihadist militants.

They were forced to leave their belongings in Mosul after the IS took possession of their property.

Last week, the United Nations Security Council condemned the systematic persecution of minorities in Iraq. The body said such actions are tantamount to crimes against humanity.

In a resolution passed unanimously, the council denounced "in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of individuals from minority populations and those who refuse its extremist ideology in Iraq by the ISIL and associated armed groups."

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News