Imagine being killed because of your religion. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Islamic group, says this will start happening in Iraq by Saturday and the threat is sending shockwaves through the community of more than 50,000 Chaldeans in the San Diego area.
At St. Michael Chaldean Church in El Cajon, locals are hoping for peace. Chaldeans visit the church in east San Diego by the thousands to pray for the thousands of victims killed in Iraq and people being persecuted because of their religion.
One of the women praying there is Sister Francois.
Though she’s a woman of peace, she fears she will become a target when she returns to Iraq.
Using the little English she speaks, she shared her story with NBC 7 Friday, including why she's risking life and limb to return to her order in Mosul, Iraq.
"My mission is there. I’m nun," she said, speaking through translator Mark Arabo, a San Diego-based Chaldean-American spokesman and community leader.
ISIS is laying down a new law in Iraq, giving Christians like Sister Francois until Saturday to accept: Convert to Islam, pay extra taxes or face death by sword.
With Arabo’s help, Sister Francois talked about seeing others pay the price due to the radical Islamic group.
“They're raping children, beheading mothers and fathers. She hasn’t seen it as bad as it is now,” explained Arabo.
Francois said not even clergy members are safe.
Case in point: After 17 days in captivity, Islamist rebels freed two Chaldean nuns and three young Iraqis in Mosul this week.
“They've taken over almost everything – from freedom to religion. They’re trying to slaughter them,” said Francois.
ISIS is a Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda splinter group. Their goal is to create an Islamic state. Already the United Nations said more than 1,500 civilians died in June as ISIS continues its reign of terror.
For his part, Arabo has been talking to the State Department to get help.
"Short term we’re mapping out a safe passage for 400,000 Christians and minorities alike to Kurdistan and Turkey," he said.