Pope Francis receives a copy of the order to pay the jizya, the jihadist tax ISIS demanded from Christians in Iraq

ON THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM ROME TO IRAQ March 5, Spanish journalist Eva Fernandez from radio station COPE, for whom she covers Italy and the Vatican, gave the Holy Father several photos of Christian houses marked by terrorists with the letter “N” in the Arabic alphabet, as well as a copy of a price list for Christian and Yazidi slave women.

Aboard the Iraq-bound papal plane

Pope Francis began his historic trip to Iraq March 5. It is the Pope’s first trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the first time a Pope has visited Iraq. As Francis greeted journalists on the outbound flight, he was handed a copy of the call for payment of the jizya, the jihadist tax that jihadists demanded from Christians and members of other religious minorities if they wanted to stay in Mosul.

The document was presented to the Pope by Fernandez. It proves the severe persecution suffered by Christians in Iraq during the years of terror by the ISIS. Fernandez also handed the Holy Father several photos of Christian houses in Mosul marked by the letter “N” in the Arabic alphabet (“Nun”). This indicated that they were Christian houses and properties which had been expropriated by terrorists. The letter Nun stands for “Nazarene,” the name given to Christians in the Koran.

“It is very important that the international media accompanying the Pope do not lose sight of who the real protagonists of the trip are: The Christians in Iraq who have been waiting so long for a Pope to visit their cities. For it is very easy to lose focus and get caught up in questions of security, or whether it is appropriate to travel to Iraq in times of a pandemic … The fact that the Pope is shown such shocking documents on the outbound flight helps not to lose the actual focus of the trip, and also to talk about it,” says Eva Fernández in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need  (ACN), which had provided the journalist with the various documents.

“This is a real testament to the horror of such a recent past. It will be very difficult not to be moved by the heroism of all the families I will meet and whom you have been helping for so long. Without Aid to the Church in Need they would no longer be in Iraq and it would be impossible to meet them. For this reason, ACN will be very present for me on this trip,” said the journalist.

The documents also include a translation of a price list for Christian and Yazidi women. With this, ISIS tried to regulate the slave women trade, which also took place during the years of the reign of terror in northern Iraq and in large parts of Syria. “I can assure you that I am still moved every time I read the price list or see the threatening leaflets with the jizya,” Eva Fernandez concluded. She noted that the highest price was paid for girls under the age of 9, which was about $200.

—Josue Villalon