A blind Christian woman has shared how God protected her from certain death after she refused to convert to Islam despite the demands of ISIS militants.
Mariyam Petrayus is a blind Christian woman from western Mosul who recently fled territory claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group and now lives in a displacement camp in Kurdistan. In a recent interview with the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, she recalled how, after overtaking Mosul, ISIS gave her and other Christians an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a large tax, or die.
Petrayus, who is in her 50's, shared how members of the jihadi death cult attempted to force her to deny Jesus Christ.
"He told me 'why don't you convert to Islam? Why are you Christian?'" Petrayus was quoted as saying in the brief interview. "I told him that everyone is on their religion, and nobody leaves their religion."
While knowing she could be killed for her faith, Petrayus refused to bow to the demands of the fighter, telling him she did not want to convert to Islam and be anything like him.
"'I do not want to become one like you,' I told him. He asked 'why? What is wrong with me?'" she said. "I told him 'you don't say your prayers, you kill humans, you earn haram [sinful] earning, and you harass people.'"
"He said, 'me?' I said 'yes,'" she continued. "He said no. I said yes, 'I swear to God.'"
Miraculously, Petrayus lived to tell her story, and is one of 6,000 internally displaced people who were forced to flee Mosul. She shared how she was forced to walk tens of kilometers through the IS-held territory before she could reach the safety of the Kurdish region.
The Turin-based Center for Studies on New Religions (CENSUR) reported that Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide, with 90,000 of them killed last year alone on the basis of their beliefs.
In November, Esam, a Christian father of three, shared how ISIS militants violently crucified his brother-in-law "like Jesus" and forced his wife and children to watch.
"My wife's brother was crucified by Daesh (another name for ISSI)," Esam said. "He was crucified and tortured in front of his wife and children, who were forced to watch. They told him that if he loved Jesus that much, he would die like Jesus."
Esam said the fighters tortured his relative from 6pm until 11pm; they cut his stomach open and shot him before leaving him hanging, crucified.
In a recent video message, Pope Francis urged Christians speak out against "religio-ethnic cleansing." Christians are suffering from around the globe. "They are persecuted and killed because they are Christians," CNA quoted the pope.
"Those who persecute them make no distinction between the religious communities to which they belong," the pontiff said. "I ask you: How many of you pray for persecuted Christians? Do it with me, that they may be supported by the prayers and material help of all the Churches and communities."