UntitledMelbourne rally in support of persecuted Iraqi Christians this Saturday, 1:30pm, Federation Square

We thought we had learned from the ethnic and religious purges of the Holocaust and the Balkans.

‘Never again’ was the vain refrain.

But this week hundreds of thousands of Christians have been driven from their homes in northern Iraq under the threat of convert to Islam or die by Islamic state militants.

Chilling images of decapitation, crucifixions and summary mass executions have filled news websites all week.

The images are hard to verify but the reports indicate that the killings include Shiites, former Iraqi army members and Christians.

Churches are being ransacked and destroyed.

In alarming echoes of the Holocaust where Jews were marked with the Star of David, Christian homes have been marked with the Arabic letter ‘N’ to signify that they are followers of the Nazarene, Jesus.

Christians have been in this region for 2000 years and now almost all have fled.

Many of my Facebook friends have changed their profile picture to the Arabic letter ‘N’ as a show of solidarity.

It was also good to see prominent global Muslim leaders condemn the violence.

With world leaders understandably paralysed by the other numbing tragic crises in Gaza and Ukraine, much of what is occurring in northern Iraq is going on under the radar.

However, it was also good to see the Australian government pledge $5 million in aid.

This week, religious liberty analyst Elizabeth Kendal spoke to ACL’s Katherine Spackman about the plight of Iraqi Christians who have been ordered by ISIS militants to leave the city of Mosul or convert to Islam.

Leaders of Australian churches with Middle Eastern roots are understandably very concerned. Many have loved ones in war-torn Syria and Iraq.

They have organised a rally at Melbourne’s Federation Square this Saturday at 1:30pm.

ACL’s Victorian Director Dan Flynn and I will be there. If you can, please join us as a sign of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering.