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IS Shows Off Assyrian Christian 'Convert' To Islam In New Video


Some 200 Iranian Assyrian Christians take part in a protest in front of the United Nations office in Tehran on March 12.

Some 200 Iranian Assyrian Christians take part in a protest in front of the United Nations office in Tehran on March 12.

The Islamic State (IS) group has released a video that purports to show an Assyrian Christian man voluntarily converting to Islam.

The video, which is titled From The Dark To The Light, was released on March 23. It shows a militant and a man whom IS claim is an Assyrian, whom the militant refers to as "Abu Omar." The Assyrian man says he has become a Muslim and calls on his family and all Assyrians to convert from Christianity to Islam.

The IS militant in the video says that "Abu Omar" accepted Islam voluntarily. However, the "conversion" may well have been carried out under duress.

The Assyrian in the video is almost certainly one of the 200 Assyrian Christian men, women, and children who are still being held captive by IS after the gunmen overran villages on the southern bank of the Khabur River, near the town of Tal Tamer in Syria's Hasaka Province in February.

Assyrian political activists say that IS militants took around 220 Assyrian Christians hostage during the offensive, while other Assyrians fled the area, leaving entire villages empty.

The militants released 16 men and three women on March 1, but fears are growing for the 200 Assyrian Christians who remain in IS captivity.

IS has systematically targeted ethno-religious minorities in both Syria and Iraq, forcing them to convert to Islam, flee, pay tax as non-Muslims, or "face the sword."

Members of Iraq's Yazidi community, thousands of whom were abducted by IS militants, testified that the gunmen forced them to adopt Islam under threat of death.

Taolo Rasu, a 60-year-old disabled Yazidi man who was held captive by IS for six months, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq this month that militants put a gun to his head and threatened to cut his throat if he did not become a Muslim.

Human Rights Watch has also documented how IS militants forced Yazidi boys they had captured to convert to Islam.

The United Nations has said that IS attacks against the Yazidi people may constitute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Assyrian leaders have said that IS persecution of Christians has become genocide.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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