MARVIN IS A 27-year-old accountant. His life and that of his family were turned upside down last week, when members of the Islamic State (Isis) turned up at their home in Mosul, northern Iraq.
The Isis militants who now control the city gave Marvin, his elderly parents and his brother and sister four stark choices: convert to Islam, pay jizya (a tax for non-Muslims), leave the city … or have their heads cut off. The militants then painted the Arabic letter “N” (for nasrani or Christian) on the house.
For Marvin’s family, like many other Christian residents of Mosul, there was no choice. They took a few belongings and left the city early the following morning. “On our way out of Mosul, Isis took our money and jewellery. Now we have no means to get out of Iraq and nothing to go back to in Mosul because our lives there have been destroyed,” Marvin told Amnesty International.
In recent weeks, Marvin’s story has become tragically common among Christians and other civilians in Mosul.
Abu Yussef’s family was also similarly forced to leave after they found the letter “N” painted on their house. He and his wife, Hanaa, took their child and a few belongings and fled to Qaraqosh, a mainly Christian town 30 minutes east of Mosul under the control of the Kurdish peshmerga forces which are preventing Isis from advancing further east.
Hanaa was a doctor in a health centre in Mosul before Isis stormed the city. She said: “We left everything behind to save our lives. Our children are now so scared they wake up crying in the night. We want to leave Iraq for the future of our children. Life has become impossible here. All we built has gone and we cannot live our lives again in Mosul. ISIS has stolen our lives.”