A group of Iraqi Christians called the "Babylon Brigade" have formed their own militia and banded together against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying the Bible justifies their act of taking up arms to protect Christians.
Babylon Brigade's leader Rayan al-Kildani told BBC in an interview that the group has no choice except to take up arms and defend Christians being targeted by ISIS. He also revealed that the 100,000-strong militia was formed in 2014 when ISIS began advancing through north and west Iraq.
The Iraqi central government is reportedly paying for the expenses of the militia. Babylon Brigade's leader is reportedly receiving more than US$600 per month.
Al-Kildani called ISIS "the devil" for the horrible things the militants are doing to Christians. He claimed that Babylon Brigade fought side by side with Muslim militias against the Islamic State, making them the "first Christian power" in the history of Iraq.
ISIS has been attacking religious groups and kidnapping hundreds of Christian women and children in Iraq and Syria since 2014. It has recently been revealed that at least 230 residents had been abducted when the militant group captured the Christian town of Qaryatain, The Gospel Herald reports.
"I know the Bible says that if you get hit on one cheek you should offer the other. But we have really good defense forces now. No one is going to do anything bad to the Christians," said Kildani, as quoted by The Gospel Herald. "Some Christians had their homes taken over. I have personally been to those houses to tell the new people living there to get out. Christian suffering is over," he added.
When quizzed about the sixth commandment in the Bible forbidding a person to kill, Kildani quoted Luke 22:36 from the Bible, citing Jesus' order to go out and buy a sword. BBC, however, notes that theologians have been divided on the real implication of that verse. Still, Kildani is certain that the verse does not refer to a metaphorical sword, so they have taken up arms to fight ISIS.