To express solidarity with persecuted Christians in Iraq, a Lebanese television channel is adding to its name the Arabic letter "N," pronounced as "Noon" and which comes from the mark the ISIS Islamist militants are placing on the homes of known Christians in Mosul.
Even as Christians and their supporters around the world are adopting the Arabic letter "N" in social media, anchor Dima Sadeq from the LBCI television channel this week appeared on television sporting a T-shirt with the Arabic letter written on it and expressed the network's support for the persecuted Christians of Iraq, reports Lebanon's Daily Star.
"From Mosul to Beirut, we are all Noon," Sadeq was quoted as saying as she began her broadcast.
The Arabic letter "N" is the first letter of the word "Nasrani," or "Nazarene," which is used to describe Christians because they follow Jesus of Nazareth.
"We are all targets to be pointed at with a finger or a sword because we're different, whether in terms of sex, religion or color of our skin," the anchor added. "We are all targets of murder in this insane era. The era of radicals, dictatorships and Israel's hatred. Only here [in the region,] are children killed on beaches, churches closed down, mosques raided, shrines of prophets destroyed."
The viewers soon expressed their support to the TV channel and condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, an offshoot of al Qaeda which has declared the territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria a "caliphate," or Islamic state, and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph or leader for Muslims.
Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, noted that Islamist militants assume that the word "Nazarene" is "an insult, an emblem of shame."
"But in that intended slight, we are reminded of who we are, and why we belong to one another, across the barriers of space and time and language and nationality. We are Christians. We are citizens of the New Jerusalem. We are Nazarenes all," he wrote, explaining that the truth that our Lord is a Nazarene "is a sign to us of both the rooted locality and the global solidarity of the church."
The church may be hounded and jailed and even crucified, "but the church can never be beheaded. The Head of the Church is alive, and engaged, and on his way back," he added. "In the meantime, there will always be those who will ask, 'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?' Our answer, from now until the Eastern skies explode should be simple: 'Come and see.'"
ISIS is among the major terrorist groups that are fighting government forces in Syria. The group has made significant military gains also in Iraq. Its fighters took control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, without any resistance from Iraqi forces in June.
Thousands of Christians have fled northern Iraq and communities they have lived in for almost 2,000 years following ISIS' ultimatum that they convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed for their faith.
Many Christian leaders and persecution watchdog groups have urged the international community to do all it can to help protect Iraq's Christians. Many are reportedly fleeing to the autonomous region of Kurdistan, which for the most part has managed to secure its borders and escape the militants' attacks.
ISIS exploited the growing tension between Sunni minority and Shia-led government in Iraq earlier this year by capturing the predominantly Sunni city of Fallujah in west Iraq. It also gained control of many parts of the city of Ramadi and has its fighters in many towns near the Turkish and Syrian borders.
The group had been aiming at forming an Islamic emirate in the Levant, a region also known as the Eastern Mediterranean, through "jihad." It is feared that it might soon become the world's most dangerous jihadist group.
The group claims it has recruited fighters from Europe and the U.S., as well as from the Arab world and the Caucasus.