An Iraqi Christian who refused to deny Jesus Christ miraculously survived various forms of torture, abuse, and hanging at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
When ISIS took over some parts of Iraq in 2014, Christians were told to leave, embrace Islam pay the jizya tax, or face death. Based on testimonies that religious freedom charity ADF International gathered from Iraqi refugees in Jordan, the Christians left behind were forcibly converted, sexually abused, tortured, and even crucified.
Karlus, a 29-year-old Christian cook, told ADF researchers that he was unable to flee from the village of Batnaya because he was searching for his disabled father. ISIS jihadists imprisoned him and hung him from the ceiling with the rope attached to his left foot.
Blood was pouring down from Karlus foot, but the ISIS militants beat him and even rubbed salt into his wounds. He also experienced being abused sexually by three women clad in niqabs while he was imprisoned. The Christian man was later told that he would be executed via gunshot. However, for unknown reasons, he was released on Sept. 26, 2014, the day he was supposed to be shot dead.
Karlus' story is not unique among the Christians who lived under ISIS rule. Esam, a Christian father from Qaraqosh, said his wife's brother was tortured and crucified to death in front of his own family. The militants told him that if he loved Jesus, he would die like Him.
In light of all the atrocities that ISIS fighters committed against Christians in the Middle East, many of them are wary of returning home even after the jihadists have been driven out. Earlier this month, the villagers from Karamlesh discussed what to do after their place was liberated, NPR reports.
Boulos Thabet Habib, a priest, outlined plans to rebuild the people's houses and future. However, the people of Karamlesh appear to be torn. For Maha al Kahwaji, she loves her village but she thinks it is impossible for them to return considering the degree of destruction left behind by ISIS.