Four years have gone by since the Islamic State group’s jihadists were run out of Kobani, a strategic, Kurdish-dominated city on the Syrian-Turkish border, but the militants’ violent and extreme application of the tenets of Islam has left some Muslims not only questioning their faith but outright denouncing it and embracing Christianity.
In an article published by NBC news online, some ex-Muslims, who lived under the brutal regime of ISIS, explain how they were led to seek a new God and their quest resulted in their converting to Christianity.
A new church is attracting converts. It is the first local Christian place of worship for decades.
“If ISIS represents Islam, I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore,” Farhad Jasim, 23, who attends the Church of the Brethren, told NBC News. “Their God is not my God.”
Religious conversions are rare and taboo in Syria, with those who abandon Islam often ostracized by their families and communities.
“Even under the Syrian regime before the revolution, it was strictly forbidden to change religion from Islam to Christianity or the opposite,” said Omar, 38, who serves as an administrator at the Protestant church. (He asked for his last name not to be revealed for safety reasons. The church’s priest declined to be interviewed.)
“Changing your religion under ISIS wasn’t even imaginable. ISIS would kill you immediately,” he added.
While residents are still dealing with the emotional scars left by the brutality of ISIS, Omar says many people in Kobani have been open-minded about Christianity.
“Most of the brothers here converted or come to church as a result of what ISIS did to them and to their families,” he added. “No one is forced to convert. Our weapon is the prayer, the spreading of spirit of love, brotherhood and tolerance.”
Islamic leaders around the world have spoken against the extremists’ ideology, accusing the ISIS militants of hijacking their religion.
In 2014, more than 100 Muslim scholars wrote an open letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying the militant group has “misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder.”
more at nbcnews.com