Christians Flee Mosul After ISIS Convert-To-Islam Ultimatum

CNN reports at least 52 Christian families fled the Iraqi city of Mosul Saturday after ISIS issued a potentially deadly ultimatum a day before.
Posted at 10:00 PM, Jul 20, 2014

Days after ISIS issued a threatening "convert to Islam" ultimatum, scores of Iraqi Christian families are fleeing the city of Mosul.

In its continued pursuit of an Islamic caliphate, ISIS released a statement Friday to all Christians living in the city: convert to Islam, pay a fine equivalent to about $470 for being Christian or face death. (Via Assyrian International News Agency)

CNN reports at least 52 Christian families fled Mosul Saturday morning, and an "armed group" restricted some of them from bringing anything but "the clothes on their backs." One civilian said, "They told us, '[You're] to leave all of your money, gold, jewelry and go out with only the clothes on you.'"

ISIS, the Islamic extremist group which occupied Iraq's second-largest city last month, gave the Christian minority until noon Saturday to oblige or they face the consequences.

Most of the families reportedly fled to neighboring Kurdish-controlled regions in the northern parts of the country. (Via Getty Images)

Al Arabiya points out Kurdish-held Iraq has been untouched by ISIS thus far due to a strong military presence and because the terror group is primarily focused on overthrowing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government in Baghdad. (Via Getty Images)

Since June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said a total of 10,000 people, mostly from Christian communities of northern Iraq, fled into Kurdistan to escape the violence.

Prior to the ISIS insurgency, the Christian minority in Mosul was pretty sizeable.

The New York Times reports Mosul's Christian community was around 30,000 strong when Saddam Hussein was removed from power in 2003, but that number has since dwindled to a few thousand. (Via CBS)

And, more recently, since ISIS took control of Mosul, that number is rapidly getting closer and closer to zero. (Via NBC)

According to Al Jazeera, the Christian population in the city was around 3,000 before Friday's ultimatum. It's believed about one-third of those have fled just since then.

A report from The United Nations on Friday estimates about 1.2 million Iraqis — of all faiths — have been "displaced" from violence this year alone.