A secret diary kept by a Mosul resident, now released for the first time, details how Islamic State methodically investigated and then eradicated the Christian community in Mosul when they took control in 2014.
Islamic State began by conducting a city-wide census, recording people and property, according to the religion and sect of each owner:
“They came to us and opened the big land ledgers,” a clerk in the agriculture department told me. “They wanted to know which lands were owned by Christians, Sunnis or Shia. We told them these documents go back to Ottoman times, and we only have the names of the owners – there is no way to find their religion, let alone their sect.”
One week later, militants went around the city graffitiing Christian homes and businesses with the Arabic letter “N”, for Nazarene, a slang term for Christian. On 18 July 2014, it was announced in all of the city’s mosques that the Christian population had until noon the following day to leave or face execution.
Once the Christian population had left, all their property was sold: “Farmlands stolen from religious minorities … were offered as a share-crop investment to Isis members; Christian houses were distributed, and their cars and belongings auctioned off.”
Many displaced Christians from across northern Iraq had the same experience – losing land and property which had often been in the family for generations. The desperate reality for many of the displaced is that even if they wanted to, they have no home to go back to.