The exodus of Christians from Mosul in recent days has provoked greater awareness of their plight in a rapidly changing Middle East. Yet, while the event was in itself deplorable, the decline of Christianity in Iraq and the region has been a reality for some time, with no signs that the trend will be reversed.
The Christians of Mosul left the city in response to a deadline set by the Islamic State group, giving them one of three choices: to pay a tax (or jizya), to convert to Islam or to be killed. The jizya was paid by religious minorities under Muslim rule until the 19th century in return for exemption from military service. It contradicts the notion of equal citizenship under the law in a modern state.