Members of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) have destroyed the tomb of the biblical prophet Jonah in the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul. There are no reporters in the city which is in the process of being totally converted a shariah style government and so the above video could not be independently verified. However, those who have viewed the video are stating that the explosion you see and the destruction at the end are at the site where Jonah’s tomb was traditionally located.
The act makes little sense from a wholly religious point of view as Jonah is also a prophet who appears in the Qu’ran as well as the Christian Old Testament and Jewish religious texts. Even stranger, the tomb was inside a Sunni mosque called The Mosque of the Prophet Yunus (Jonah).
Scholars Joel Baden and Candida Moss characterized the intention of the tomb’s destruction as an attack on Iraqi Christians and the region’s Christian history, not just a great archaeological loss.
Last week, ISIS reportedly issued an ultimatum to Christians that they must convert to Islam, flee or face the sword. Earlier this month ISIS had allowed Christians to pay a non-Muslim tax known as jizya. On July 17, Christians were notified that jizya was no longer an option. They must now convert, flee or die.
Among the last Christians to leave the city were monks – residents of the ancient Mar Behnam Monastery – who left behind them 1,400 years of rich Christian tradition, as ISIS refused to let the monks take any of their precious relics with them.
Despite its antiquity and rich tradition, Christianity in Iraq is on the brink of eradication.
The heirs to those who first discovered the tomb of Jonah, and those who helped to keep Greek philosophy alive in the medieval period, are being ejected from their homes and from a land they have held sacred for centuries. This is the face and reality of Christian persecution.