The leader of one of Christianity's oldest communities reluctantly
says that waging war against ISIS - killing their fighters - is the only
way to stop the radical Islamists from destroying Christianity in Iraq.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil speaks to Lara Logan for her report on
the plight of thousands of Christians forced to flee ancestral homes
from ISIS. Her story will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, March 22 AT
7 p.m. ET/PT.
The situation with ISIS in Northern Iraq is a dire
one for Christians, says Archbishop Warda. "For me, Daesh is a cancer,"
says the Chaldean Catholic prelate referring to ISIS by its Arabic name.
"So sometimes you take some hard measures, unfortunate measures, to
deal and treat this cancer," he says.
The bishop has seen his flock
expand by about 60,000 people in recent months because of an influx of
Christian refugees who fled Mosul and the surrounding villages on the
Nineveh Plains when ISIS stormed the area last summer. Should the
military defeat them, asks Logan. "Please God," replies the archbishop.
speaks to an Iraqi refugee who was given a choice by ISIS to convert to
Islam or be killed. He agreed to convert - and his entire family was
forced to do the same. But about a month later, ISIS members came to
their door and advised them that under their interpretation of Islamic
law, 10-year-old girls, like their daughter, should be married. "As soon
as they left, my wife and I shut the door. We looked at each other and
she started to cry -- and pray." They managed to escape to Erbil by
taxi, swearing that they were Muslims at each ISIS checkpoint.
Erbil, in Iraq's Kurdish-controlled North, the capital of what's
referred to as Kurdistan, offers a sanctuary for many fleeing
Christians. There, the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters offer a bulwark
against ISIS. In all, it is believed some 200,000 Christians have been
displaced by ISIS. Logan finds an entire Christian village empty.
Yusuuf Ibrahim was one of the last monks in a 1,600-year-old monastery,
where prayers and services were still said in Aramaic, the language
spoken by Jesus. He fled to Erbil; he is not optimistic about the
future of Christians in the area. "We don't know exactly but we are
expecting the worse," he tells Logan. Just a few miles from the
monastery is the frontline, where the flag of ISIS can be seen flying in
the distance. Every town and village between that frontline and Mosul
is in the Islamic State's hands, Logan reports. And now, she adds, "for
the first time in nearly 2,000 years, it is believed that the city of
Mosul has no Christians left in it."
Nicodemus Sharaf is the
archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul. He just made it out
of the city with five ancient texts, but had to leave behind hundreds
more, many precious relics of early Christianity. "I think they burn all
the books. And we have books from the first century of the
Christianity," he says, beginning to cry and telling Logan it's the
first time since the birth of Christianity in Iraq that Christians can't
pray in their churches. But the archbishop says Christianity is
indomitable. "They take everything from us, but they cannot take the God
from our hearts, they cannot."
See the interview to Bishop Warda by CBS by clicking here