World Watch Monitor

The so-called Islamic State has completely destroyed another historic Christian landmark in an area under its control, this time in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Quoting “local residents,” the National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) said “the terrorists...blew the Clock Church fully after booby-trapping it from all sides and the evacuation of nearby houses in the centre of Mosul.”

Sources said IS jihadists looted the church before razing it on Sunday, 24th April.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon expressed its dismay at the obliteration of yet another Christian emblem, terming the attack “a grave sin against God and man".

Blowing up the church was “aimed at erasing Christian memory and emptying Iraq out of its indigenous components to give way to a state of foreign terrorists under the name of Islam,” the patriarchate said.

Known locally as the ‘Clock Church', the Dominican Fathers Latin church was completed in 1873. The church featured two identical domes, the first built-in organ structure in the region, and a commanding clock tower whose iconic strikes could be heard in surrounding villages more than 15 kilometres away.

The clock tower itself was finished in 1882. It was gifted by Queen Eugénie, wife of French Emperor Napoleon III, to the Dominican fathers, recognising their contribution in saving the people of Mosul from a devastating typhoid epidemic in 1879-1880.

After the Second Gulf War, Christians started evacuating the area. The last church priest left after a series of attacks targeting Christians in Mosul in October, 2004. The church was subsequently damaged on 9th April, 2008.

IS jihadists were the latest to target the church, first ransacking the church and blowing up the tower on 2nd February, 2015, before razing it completely this week.

In a similar devastation in neighbouring Syria, the historic monastery of St. Eliane was bulldozed and its 5th century shrine badly damaged when IS took over Qaryatain southeast of Homs in August 2015.

A recent report has pointed out that although Christians comprised around 8 to 10 per cent of Syria’s 22 million population before 2011, some 40 to 50 per cent of those Christians have since fled.

Those Christians who remain in Syria and Iraq, the report noted, “have become extremely vulnerable, with their churches, homes, businesses and very lives at times targeted.”