No, ISIS is Not “Branding” Christians in Iraq

Over the weekend, a post began to make its way across Facebook. Originally shared by Scott and Kelli, an on-air duo from syndicated radio station K-LOVE, the post alerts people to a horrific act being committed against Christians by the ISIS militant group in Iraq.

ScottandKellipostAt the time I’m writing this, the post has been up less than 24 hours and it has already been shared over 40,000 times. Clearly it has struck a nerve with the online Christian community. But is it actually happening?

The word branding here is especially inflammatory, as could be seen in some of the nearly 1,100 comments to the post. Clearly, reading through the comments  shows that many readers think “brandng” implies that Christians themselves are being marked, perhaps even in the most literal way possible — that is, with the searing of the flesh. Here is a sampling of commenters who are horrified by the branding:

Hitler branded the Jews and tried to exterminate them. Committed murder, torture, and all sorts of atrocities. History is repeating itself.

I don’t understand how people don’t associate this with the Jews being branded with the Star of David.

Burn it on me any day. I’d wear that brand proudly no matter the price.

Our religious leaders used to brand an “S” on sinners and burn at the stake, anyone they thought practiced witchcraft. Not so different.

And even:


Everyone seems to accept that it is happening. And it’s easy to believe; there are ample verified reports coming out of Iraq that demonstrate that Christians in the country (mostly followers of the Syriac sects, such as Chaldeans) are targets of sectarian violence. But are the being branded with an Arabic ‘N’?

No, they are not. This post (and posts like it) seems to be a misinterpretation or oversimplification of a report that first came out in mid-July. It’s attributed to Patriarch Louis Sako in statements made to the AFP news service. I have tried to track down the raw AFP wire report, but have been unsuccessful; however, this report from the BBC echoes many nearly exact repetitions of the statement in the press at that time.

“Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Irbil,” in the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan, Patriarch Louis Sako told the AFP news agency.

“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” he said.

The patriarch, one of the most senior Christian clerics in Iraq, said militants had been seen tagging Christian houses with the letter N for “Nassarah”, a term used for Christians in the Koran.

Other reports attributed similar information to Bishop Saad Sirop, such as this one from Catholic News Service.

Militants singled out homes belonging to Christians and marked them in red paint with the letter “N,” for “Nazarat,” which means Christian, as well as “Property of ISIS,” — the Islamic State group, said Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Saad Sirop of Baghdad.

In both cases, the reports accuse ISIS supporters of tagging or marking Christian houses. In other words, graffiti. While this is absolutely an act meant to identify Christians and likely target them for violence, it’s not nearly as horrific as the implied searing of the flesh of the faithful with Arabic letters. It’s also worth noting that there’s only one source for this reported activity: something “told” to the news agencies by those who witnessed it. We don’t even know how common or widespread this phenomenon is.

What is going on in Iraq right now is an international tragedy on so many levels. But if we are going to be outraged, let’s be outraged at all the horrible things that are actually happening in the country. There’s no need to manufacture atrocities when there are so many already there to begin with.


About Alison Hudson

Alison is a writer and educator living near Ann Arbor, MI. She blogs regularly about skepticism, games, and the transgender experience.
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106 Responses to No, ISIS is Not “Branding” Christians in Iraq

  1. Edward Rothschild says:

    Its plenty horrific as it is. Any way you look at it, Christians are being targeted for murder. These “Islamic” thug are acting in direct violation of the Koran and of Islamic law. Muslims must take their faith back from these people who have seized control of it, and profane the Name by their actions, and insult the Prophet by their deeds.

    • Pam Neufeld says:

      Is this supposed to be a surprise that they are targeting and killing Christians??? They target and kill moderate muslims!!! Wow, Isis must be stopped!!!

    • JIMJFOX says:

      NOT the “hijacking of Islam” argument AGAIN!! You as a muslim are in denial, or employing taqiyya to delude the kafir. The ‘thugs’ you quote are the most devout and truest of muslims, in following the actions, dictates & example of the prophet. All exactly as written in the koran, sunnah & hadiths & confirmed by all 4 Islamic schools of jurisprudence.

      No, my friend, your ‘argument’ is baseless, contradicted by your very own holy theology.
      Islam is by its own admission a dogma of supremacism, racism, murder and world conquest. That the civilised world of personal freedoms refuses to see this is on par with ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ fable.

  2. Peter G Brooksbank says:

    In reality Muslims can’t take their faith back as it is their faith you are seeing in action, we just haven’t seen it in action lately. This has been going on from the beginning, there is evidence littered for it throughout history. The words of Winston Churchill on Islam could have been written today and not the late 1800’s. Here are the words of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1942

    “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world…. Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers] Islam says Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us Islam says Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender to the enemy Islam says Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Koranic] verses and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.”

    • facebook patricia james I saw the Arabic mark just yesterday, on a persons fb timeline…so am interested in this topic come by please

      • Its time to wake up, especially if you live in America. Islam is no joke ,die ,leave your home or convert to barbaric and woman slavery Islam.stop reading and waching libral news thease are infiltrated with this Islamic religion mahomed said it plainly Kill the infedels , that is you and me a good Muslim follows evry word of mahomed.

    • Xin Qi says:

      thank you.

    • Texas Dervish says:

      First off, Khomeini was a Shi°i; which makes him a minority opinion in the Islamic world right off the bat. Da°ish (aka ISIS/ISIL/IS) and al-Qa°idah in particular, having originated in Sunni Islam, consider him an apostate.

      His theory of vilayat-e-faqih (“government by clerics”, i.e. theocracy) was too radical even for his fellow clerics and political allies; he took advantage of the hostage crisis to rally his supporters, denounce the opposition, and push his plans through over their objections.

      His own grandson Husain, himself a cleric, has denounced this system of government his grandfather implemented; he has described Iran as a “prison” and called for American invasion. Two others of Khomeini’s grandchildren are allied with reform politicians Mohammad Khatami and Mir-Hussein Mousavi — one by marriage.

      Furthermore, their grandfather has been dead since 1989; which matters because Shi°ah are forbidden from emulating a deceased exemplar (marja’ at-taqlid). If not even his grandchildren heed his words, why should anyone else?

      • JIMJFOX says:

        Shia or Sunni- makes little difference; whatever their disagreements they are united in Islamic doctrine, which is the supremacy of muslims and the need for jihad in world domination. “Until all worship is for allah alone”.

    • Gilda Haber, PhD says:

      Branding is almost the same as marking a commercial product. It does not mean searing flesh:
      YET. However, I believe that Nazis began their reign of terror by marking Jewish shops and
      houses with Jude in yellow. It starts with buildings and ends with heads falling. Or mass gas chambers. This was the beginning of killing 6 million Jews and leaving millions orphaned and traumatized. Marking a minority by force is one form of sumptuary law. It leads to destruction
      or the “final solution” by any “superior” race or religion of any so-called “inferior” race/religion. Further, if the inferior are so visible as claimed by the “superior” why the need to mark them? Nazis claimed they “scientifically” found “Jewish features.” Look at Hitler’s
      cohort. How many were blond and blue-eyed? If recognizable, why the need to mark? Purpose: to identify, tax, persecute, convert or annihilate an entire minority. Any marking leads to death except for servicemen. One would not recognize a naked colonel. Gilda Haber, PhD

      • Noah Dillon says:

        Well, Nazis actually started with disabled children, then disabled adults and homosexuals, then gypsies and other minorities, then Jews. And just because their terrorization proceeded according to one series of steps doesn’t mean that ISIS’s will follow the same one, though it seems pretty obvious that they’re interested in perpetrating as much brutality as possible for as long as possible.

  3. Chuck Nelson says:

    I had been looking in to the marking of doorways and could not find anything except the reports you found. There are some pics of the graffiti and it could be this “n” symbol. It could be something else as well. Of the three images I found, that have this rough “U” shape with a dot in the center and circled, all three have a word or words stenciled in black with this symbol also stenciled below the word in a larger size. I’m curious about that, but don’t know anyone to translate it. There are also, on two of the pics, three rows of letters or numbers with underlines. This looks like contractor marking to me but could be anything.

    • Alison Hudson says:

      One of the reports said that they were also tagging buildings with “Property of ISIS” — in other words, laying claim to abandoned homes. That may be what you saw.

      • Xin Qi says:

        Even if they don’t do this kind of atrocity, they do many others. Sadly, ISIS and their likes are not some pseudoscientific bogus which can be disavowed simply. These people are very real, and yes, they DO systematically eliminate Christians, Jews, atheists and any brand of Islam which is not like their own. The horrible part is that all this is not some fear-mongering or, as people like to dub it, “propaganda”, but modern Middle East, which is in many ways as it is today thanks to errors in US policies.

  4. misterants says:

    That, and the fact that that is NOT the “letter n” in Arabic, it is “nuun”. And the word Nazarat/n in Arabic DOESN’T EVEN HAVE AN ‘N’ SOUND, NOR DOES IT USE THE LETTER NUUN ANYWHERE IN THE WORD!!!

    • Alison Hudson says:

      I was focused on the veracity of the report, it didn’t occur to me that the symbol they were spreading might have been inaccurate. If it is, though, it’s likely the fault of the DJs who chose the graphic.

    • rawan says:

      Do you speak Arabic? Because I do and that letter “nuun” you’re talking about is the letter N in Arabic that is just how we pronounce it and the word Nazareth DOES INDEED have the letter N in it. Please educate yourself before you give your two sense about something.

      • Amy Tillinghast says:

        I think you meant “two cents”.
        This is not about the letter– it is about the how Christians are overreacting to half-truths that those idiot K-LOVE DJ’s are spreading. This is just even more evidence of their ignorance.
        This is a tragedy and the Christians are, as always, milking it dry. It’s not about language at all.
        Chill, dude.

        • David Carter says:

          I like the way you use “chill”…meaning “shut-up.” By your tone so obvious in this and other postings by you, you’re not a Christian and have no basis in fact or reality to claim to know that Christians are “over reacting”, spreading “half truths”, or “milking it dry.” You don’t know what Christians think! Oh, you’d probably come back with, “I didn’t know Christians DID think.” Yuk yuk. If the topic was LGBTQ, YOU’D expect a Christian to say what you said. You’re just as intolerant as you say Christians are, and would probably be right up there with the spray can tagging away at people you know absolutely nothing about. The only reason you post anything is to incite and to hear your own voice. You bring nothing to the table but misinformed dogma parroted by people afraid of the truth. Your words are no more truth than those spouted by any reactionary, jack booted, fascist, jingoist, libelous, Vichy, Stepford, McCarthy, Conklin troglodyte that ever crawled out of the primordial ooze.

          • Sara G. says:

            Your usage of the word “you” implies that you sir, are a mind reader.

            “You would probably be right up there with the spray can tagging away at people you know absolutely nothing about. The only reason you post anything is to incite and to hear your own voice. ”

            Truly magical stuff!

        • JIMJFOX says:

          Before mohammed, ALL the middle east & N Africa was predominantly Christian, Jewish and animist, along with Zoroastrianism. NOW- how many non-muslims live in the Arabian peninsula, or Jordan, or Syria or Lebanon, or Turkey? Virtually NONE. Where did they go- killed or driven out by the tolerant religion of peace.
          “IslamoNazi” is a far more accurate word than “Islamophobia”

  5. Most of us never thought that actual skin “branding” was being referred to. “JUST” targeting for genocide. Why are liberals so protective of the image of ISIS? Skeptoids might look at our govt and news networks’ refusal to tell the Christian persecution story that is going on in Iraq.

    • Who outside of ISIS itself is “protective of their image?” The vast majority of westerners are rightly horrified at their actions. But there’s no need to compound what they ARE doing with tall tales of what they AREN’T doing.

  6. J. Michael Black says:

    Here is a link with some history and some photos:

  7. Bryan says:

    Maybe you’re right, but beheading children, raping and then killing women and crucifying the men certainly qualify as atrocities, don’t they?? Consider that while congratulating yourselves for your thorough investigation.

  8. tommybrennan says:

    When I first saw the “Nazarene” post, I had already been reading about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. I have been a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs (an organization that raises awareness about the persecution of Christians), and I follow such stories. I had already read about the marking of Christians homes and businesses in Iraq, and so I knew this was going on. Immediately, I associated it with the star of David that was used to identify Jewish homes and businesses in Hitler’s Germany. When I saw the “Nazarene” post, I never got the impression that there was an actual burning of the flesh branding, primarily because I had already read about the marking of homes. So I would point out that your statement “While this is absolutely an act meant to identify Christians and likely target them for violence, it’s not nearly as horrific as the implied searing of the flesh of the faithful with Arabic letters.” makes the assumption that the DJs were implying a searing of the flesh, which I didn’t find at all. In any case, the marking of homes was for the purpose of further persecution, which could involve rape, beheading, or both. These crimes certainly are worse that a simple branding. So even though you might be semantically correct, I am curious as to why you wouldn’t along with your correction, point out the atrocities being committed with equal precision. After all, the purpose of Skeptoid is to get the story right, isn;t it? In any case, I do appreciate that you acknowledge that horrible things are happening in Iraq, Perhaps in the interest of equal time, you might write something more detailed about the atrocities, such as the beheading of children.

  9. Annie says:

    Whether they are marking buildings or bodies they are beheading CHILDREN!!!! How in the world can you possible make it worse??? You are way too comfortable in your FREEDOMS.

  10. Information is not improved by mixing in misinformation. That’s the only point being made here. It’s not intended as a comprehensive report on ISIS. That information is available on news sites.

  11. Patricia Cropper says:

    I read the article and apparently Nazarene’s are not being branded. We have to be so careful with these stories. We can still pray for our brother and sisters who are being persecuted by Isis thr tem

  12. Maybe you should recheck the dictionary definition of “branding”. It certainly is not limited to “searing with an iron”.

    branding, verb: to label or mark with or as if with a brand.

    branding, verb: to mark with disgrace or infamy; stigmatize

    Apparently the dictionary finds “branding” to be an acceptable term for what ISIS is doing in singling out and targeting Christians with the symbol mentioned in the articles.

    If people misunderstand the term and think it means literal “searing of the flesh”, that reflects on them and their poor grasp of context.

    And I agree with the other posters that it makes ethical sense to include in your article the surely relevant facts of the violence ISIS IS perpetrating against Christians (and others, but definitely Christians as well) – the rapes, the murders, the beheading of children. I’m sure all the victims are comforted by your semantical stand against a word that doesn’t only mean what you think it means!

  13. As an aside, Jews were also not “branded” with the Star of David – it was a symbol they were made to wear on their clothing. Seems like the author of that comment and comparison understood the term better than you seem to?

  14. Amy Tillinghast says:

    As someone who has actually been physically branded, I can tell you that people are making it out to be a LOT worse than it really is. I have an Alpha and Omega branded on my left arm. It was not by choice and we’ll leave it at that… It’s painful but it could be a LOT worse, as many people are saying in the above comments.
    But Brian is right: This is not a report on ISIS, it’s simply a report on the misinformation that K-LOVE is spreading around on Facebook. Alison is not “ignoring the real atrocities”, she’s just reporting on sensationalism that seems to always be the hallmark of the Christian Community in America. It fits that Facebook is blowing up about this too since many Christians prefer to resort to “Slacktivism” rather than actually getting up and doing something about it, not to mention trying to find out what is true and what isn’t. Just because a Christian DJ said something about it doesn’t mean that it’s “Gospel”.

    • DJM says:

      Amy, your comments are very insightful. My heart breaks for you for the pain you have endured. No doubt it was horrible and undeserved.
      I agree with you about the “sensationalism” in the Christian community. Maybe we could agree that it is rampant in all media. Humans are, in general, in great need of having a cause to get behind and promote. It gives us purpose, identity, and place.
      Also, you are correct about “slacktivism”. Frankly, I had not heard that word before, but I like it and will use it again.
      I myself am a Christian. But in the literal sense of the word: “Christ” and “ian”(follower, one of, or associated with). It is not something that ‘works for me’ or that is a coping mechanism. Jesus offers real purpose, real change, and reality. Items that are in short supply, and often totally bastardized by those who promote Him.
      I appreciate that you did not deny the ‘labeling’ of Christians by ISIS. It is real. It has real consequences. But for us to be attempting to be so specific about something half a world away is mere speculation. It would be great to hear from someone who has been to Iraq.
      Please continue your searching. Ask Truth to reveal Itself to you, and It will.


  15. A. Cazares says:

    Interesting how your article’s intent is to oversimplify Muslim’s crimes. Muslims seem to be victims everywhere they migrate and beg for tolerance but behead Christians and Jews in the Middle East. This is a war and no matter how you try to minimize those fanatics’ cold blood assassinations, the facts remain as undeniable.

    • David says:

      Classic example of Islamophobia and racism.

      • A.Cazares says:

        Why because I don’t agree with you that beheading Christians is OK? We must all be just imagining these hate crimes against Christians are actually occurring. You’re delusional

        • Jahn says:

          But don’t you see? This whole crisis is clearly a Republican machination to shame Obama! At least, that’s what Wil Wheaton tweeted, and he was on Star Trek so we can trust him right?

  16. David says:

    These ISIS monsters should not be referred to as Muslims or Islamists. Their behaviour is the very antithesis of Islam. They are murderous thugs and should be referred to as such. For the record, I am an atheist of Irish descent who has lived in the Middle East for several years and also studied the origin, history and belief structure of Islam in detail.

    • Sara G. says:

      Thank you, David. I worked for a firm that built an airport in the Middle East. My experience with my educated architect and mechanical engineer co-workers in no way reflects what these ISIS clowns are perpetrating.

      I too am a non-believer.

    • A.Cazares says:

      So, we should just all ignore they are committing these crimes in the name of Mohammed, Allah and the Islam? It is not us but they themselves committing all these crimes in the name of the aforementioned.

  17. Marla Kramer says:

    Branding is a minor issue when Christians are being killed by ISIS. What if it was on the doors and not the flesh, it is still horrific. Think of the Passover in reverse, or the way the Jews homes, and businesses were marked for destruction by the Nazis. They were also forced to wear identifying bands on their arms. Moses marked the door posts of the Israelites with blood as God commanded. When the angel of death came for the firstborn the Egyptian firstborn children were killed, but the children of the Israelites were spared. Because in obedience the blood of sacrifice was on their doorposts. So this in reverse denotes ISIS plans to kill all Christians. Terrorists have no mercy as the world has seen in the brutal things they have done in the middle east. So what’s the big deal about whether it was burned onto their skin or put on their doors by ISIS. It stands for the Nazarene which Jesus was, and whose we are. Why are Christians arguing over petty details and missing the point entirely. What is so difficult to comprehend? Our brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered and we in solidarity identify with their sufferings, as if we ourselves are suffering with them. And in actuality we are because the Scriptures tell us that if members of the body (of Christ) suffer we all suffer with them. May God’s love compel us to pray for the persecuted church all over the world. Think of the effectual prayers that could be said by the righteous while we are debating trivial details on Facebook.

  18. Stephen says:

    It’s strange you go into all this convoluted explanation to say they are not branding people but houses… Everything I read about it made it clear to me they were marking houses… So I think you are using this to diminish the horrific aspect of this ” graffiti” as you call it.. Graffiti?! Seriously? What like its art? The targeted houses means these people will either be killed or sold
    as slaves or forced to convert… It’s not any better than branding in its horror..

  19. J Black says:

    In their original post Scott and Kelli obviously used the word brand as a figure of speech to convey strongly that Christians are being designated. Ms. Hudson’s post was unnecessary for readers of average intelligence. Stephen, I agree with you that graffiti is a poor choice of words to describe the “tagging” of the houses. Graffiti is widely considered a form of antisocial behavior performed in order to gain attention or simply for thrills. What ISIS is doing is more like when demolition crews mark particular buildings for destruction, though they are marking the building for destruction of the people.

  20. Jahn says:

    We’re also “told” some pretty horrible things about North Korea. But the Supreme Leader says it isn’t so, so the sources must be lying.

  21. Mike says:

    Get your head out of the sand. Marking someone’s house with that symbol makes them a target. You are allowed to write what you have written because of freedom of speech. Try that with ISIS and we’ll see your head on a platter. Wake up and accept your responsibility as a writer and warn people instead of trying to provide comfort and aid to the enemy.

    • That reminds me. I always wanted to research the origin and misuse of that phrase “giving aid and comfort to the enemy”. What a lame way to try and discredit a point that is. Yes, you got me; my whole point in writing this blog post was to make ISIS feel better about themselves.

  22. Brian Campbell says:

    I had maintained that Skeptoid was being run by leftists, and was subsequently blocked by their Facebook moderator. This piece by Alison Hudson is just another example. Yes, technically, Hitler may not have “branded” the Jews. He used ink, you misinformed idiot! There. I summed up Alison’s view.

    • Well Brian you will find that those of us at skeptoid are equal opportunity skeptics and do not truly adhere to one political ideology. As evidenced by many author’s position on GMO, organic, homeopathy, alt med and ‘Natural”. All ideologies popular in “leftist” political arenas. The most common reason for being banned here is abusive language or spam links IE:idiot. Here is your chance to add to the conversation. I will add you are committing the logical fallacy of Division and/or the hasty generalization fallacy calling skeptoid leftist. 🙂

      • Brian Campbell says:

        “As evidenced by many author’s position on GMO, organic, homeopathy, alt med and ‘Natural”. All ideologies popular in “leftist” political arenas.”

        Well that’s rather presumptive. I know this is allegorical, but many conservatives that I know have passion for many of those subjects. But you assume that I’ve labelled ALL of Skeptoid’s posts as Leftist. That is a Straw Man fallacy. I have not. I’ve maintained that Skeptoid, when posting on political issues like Global “Warming” and the defense of Islam (in this case), comes down on the side of Leftist mentality. Now you may argue that Global Warming is about “science”, but when I’ve posted legitimate counterpoints to science based on assumptive models, they’ve been taken down by the moderator. My apologies for using the word “idiot” in my example of Alison’s thought process above. I hope you understand that the context was to call someone an “idiot”, but was an illustrative hypothetical of what I had thought that Alison’s thought process would be regarding the defense of “branding” but not necessarily through fire and an iron brand.

      • Brian Campbell says:

        Sorry, I meant the context was NOT to call someone an “idiot”.

      • Brian Campbell says:

        Sorry, I meant the context that I used the word “idiot” was NOT directed at an actual person.

  23. Brian Campbell says:

    I wonder how a transgender person would be “branded” in an Islamic country. Graffiti? Nasty letters?

  24. Ted says:

    The tagging of Christian houses is for the purpose of persecuting them at the extremists’ discretion. The concept is the same as previous genocidal c********* In this case, locate Christians and persecute them…..and in many recent cases….execute them.

  25. A Christian Genocide Symbolized by One Letter
    Many years ago Jewish homes and business were marked with the star to symbolizes the hatred of being different.
    Eighty years later the place has changed, the symbol has changed, but the meaning is still the same. You are not one of us you need to die!
    The world again is turning its back. How ironic that history repeats its self over and over again, and we allow it.
    Now you write oh, its not even happening. Yea death camps in Germany were a myth, and never existed. My grandfather was a survivor, and his story would make you cry. He knows how many were killed, because he counted, and counted, and never lost count.

  26. Brian Campbell says:

    Guess that this “false” story has fleshed out to be quite true. Too bad. No follow up from Skeptoid.

    • Alison Hudson says:


      • Brian says:

        What source, or sources, will you accept?

      • Brian Campbell says:

        From a recent CBS report:
        “Just like the Nazis marked the property of Jews, Christian homes in Mosul have been marked with this red symbol. It’s the Arabic letter N – for Nasara – an early Islamic term for Christians. When ISIS puts it on your home, you either convert to Islam, pay an extortion tax or face the sword.

        Issah Al Qurain is one of tens of thousands who had to make that choice. He was at home with his family in the Christian village where he’d lived all his life, when ISIS fighters came looking for him. He told us the fighters first took all his money – then his wife and children.

        Lara Logan: They were telling you convert, convert, convert?

        Issah Al Qurain (translated): Yes, convert. In the beginning, I refused. I told them I was Christian and I had my religion and they had their religion. But they told me, if you don’t convert, we will kill you and take your wife and children”

        Is CBS News a source that you would find acceptable, Alison? Would you like more?

        • Alison Hudson says:

          That is a source describing the tagging of houses … the very thing I said was happening. What isn’t happening is the branding of people, though many assumed that’s what was going on.

          • Brian Campbell says:

            I’ve understood that you’re maintaining that your definition of “branding” does not include labelling someone through various means, but is narrowly defined by the act of searing an identifying mark on someones skin.
            But as I, and many others, here have pointed out, the word “branding” has a much broader meaning.
            But to your response that the branding is not happening to people. The people ARE being branded as Christians by the markings on their houses. If not, who is the branding happening to? The houses? Are the houses to be converted to Islam? Are the houses branded, as the Q’uran states to “seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”

            I think it’s been proven that your blog on this matter is simply wrong. It’s ok to admit you’re wrong about something. Sometimes that the first step to personal growth.

  27. Edward Rothschild says:

    Brian, the quote from the Q’uran refers to idol worshipers,not ‘people of the book:, Christians and Jews. If ISIS is using it to target Christians, then they are again abusing their holy book and violating a major principal of Islam.

    • Brian Campbell says:

      Hi Edward. If I’ve gotten something out of context, please post the full context. What I’ve read seems to have been pretty straight forward, but I’ll happily retract if I made a mistake. Unlike some here, I’ve no problem admitting when I get something wrong. 😉

  28. carlos says:

    So author, if YOU don’t see if happen, then you must make the world believe it’s not true? It’s this type of narrow mindedness in which people don’t believe atrocities are being carried out simply because there aren’t any video feeds to prove the stories true.

  29. Mike says:

    Allison Hudson, are you a terrorist sympathizer? Do you think branding peoples’ houses for being a different religion is not horrific? Whether they’re branding skin or branding wood, is it not used an “X marks the spot” for ISIS to kill?

    Bless your heart.

  30. Nazarene says:

    Hey Allison, When the ISIS knife starts to carve your neck it will be too late. Ain’t it nice to be able to blog about such silliness. All you ‘non believers’ better wake up. Believe what you want, I could care less, but the Islamonazi’s are coming for you too. Do you shop, go to large gatherings, fly on plains or take other forms of public transportation? Yeah, the Christians are just exaggerating again. Good luck with that. Always remember 9-11 you sheep.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Wait, the author didn’t say that ISIS are nice, safe, peaceable, or whatever. She never said they don’t kill people or aren’t a threat. ISIS are horrific, brutal, threatening, and destructive. Ms. Hudson just said that there’s no evidence for this particular story about branding Christians. It seems like the best way to fight an enemy is to know who they actually are and what they’re actually doing. If Britain and the US had invested a lot of money in fighting off the Axis powers’ flying monkey during WWII we’d actually have been under greater threat than what they actually did: fight the enemy as they are, not based on myth.

  31. Ross B. says:

    Well, the 60 Minutes episode that just aired on 9/13/15 just made this article look extremely ill-advised. Empty towns full of branded homes, first person interviews of fleeing Christians describing their ISIS persecution and the “3 Choices” they were given. Skeptoid has created a credibility problem for themselves, I’d say.

  32. Jacob says:

    The internet is a mass of information that may or may not be accurate. Arguing the specifics of certain information is almost a pointless endeavor, not that it isn’t important to have accurate information, but it is only worth as much as what the contrary information would instead inform. The mandate that ISIS uses to persecute Christians is fairly simple: Convert, pay a tax, or be killed. There is no incentive for ISIS to willingly allow Christians to “leave” or flee from their persecution, because they are encouraged by the words of their faith that it is good to do so. So it can be concluded that once militants make contact with any Christian, they are informed of their options and either live or die. There is no valid reason to “mark” Christians who they are going to kill because their preferred use of propaganda is recording executions on video, which is far more effective of a scare tactic, which gives them even less incentive to allow Christians to escape with their lives. So they are not simply making houses with graffiti as a mark of “violence”. It is a mark of death, that means either you covert or you will be killed and your wife and children will be sold into slavery. That is what is going on in the world, that is what is important, not the specifics that may or may not be completely accurate. It all pales in comparrison to the grim reality.

  33. Matthew E says:

    Over 99% of the branding most people are exposed to is not done with heat. To brand, as the word is most commonly defined and used, is to mark with disgrace or infamy, to stigmatize. That IS what the spray-painted arabic “N” attempted to do to the impacted Christians – to stigmatize, or “brand” them! The headline “No, ISIS is Not “Branding” Christians in Iraq” is more inflammatory and less accurate than the use of the term “brand”. I urge you to revise it, Alison. Rarely is inflammatory journalism appropriate, and this is not such a case.

  34. Richard says:

    Nice debunking job…. NOT so when you were in Iraq talking to ISIS did they tell you that they are just misunderstood. What manner of evidence did you discover to disprove this in your moms basement.

  35. Phil Gamain says:

    Please contact Voice of the Martyrs if you’re not sure that Christian homes and families are being persecuted. As far as we know skin branding has not happened, but people being thrown out of their own homes is. 18773370302

    • Eric says:

      It would seem that skeptoid does not care about making a retraction, or updating the story. I posted a message on their Facebook page, it was never published. So much for this site trying to be accurate.

      • Noah Dillon says:

        Do you have a reliable news source on which to base a correction?

        • Eric says:

          Lets See ABC news, 60 minutes (CBS) I am sure I could come up with more if I started digging. The funny part is about 3 month after this article was publish 60 minutes ran a special 90 minute episode about ISIS branding houses and emptying whole villages of Christians.

  36. Joe says:

    This thread is still going on 14 months later. All because Scott & Kelli were vague in their usage of the word brand. They could have said “branded Christians’ houses”. They didn’t. Though they also made no mention of marks being made onto the bodies of Christians to designate them. Personally when I hear the word brand I don’t automatically jump to thinking about the searing of human flesh to designate assign into a certain group. I got it from day 1. ISIS is targeting Christians for persecution to either convert to islam or die. That is if they even get the choice. Time to put this thread to rest.

  37. benecya says:

    It never even occurred to me that branding was being interpreted so literally. My comprehension of this action was that it was being done to the BUILDINGS AND RESIDENCES to identify who was to pay a tribute, convert, flee, or be killed. It never crossed my mind that branding would be done to people, because the goal of the ISIL is to carve out an area of land which it can dominate and run however it wants independent of any other influences or authorities. To Mark on a Christian that they are Christian is counterproductive to that end, it would be easier to purge them than to keep track of them or hunt them down later. I’m not saying its ok, I’m just explaining how it was so easy to come to the correct conclusion. However one parallel I immediately thought of was the lambs blood being sprinkled over the doors of Israelites on Passover. Maybe that’s a stretch? Maybe that’s unrelated, but that’s what I thought of.

    • Eric says:

      Benecya, The lamb’s blood is a bad example of the branding. The Jewish people did the lamb’s blood as a sign for the angel of death to passover that house, or home. The Jewish people (whom I am one) were not not branding their homes for later execution, or land banishment, but to stay alive from death. The opposite that is happen in Syria and Iraq.

  38. The way you seem to be blowing off the seriousness of my family in Christ being targeted is disgusting. It makes me wonder if you even understand what you wrote in this “article”. I suggest visiting The Voice Of The Martyrs for some detailed information. Followers of my Lord Jesus are being forced to convert, move, or die. Whether on their houses or on their person makes no difference. They are being marked for death. I pray you rethink this poorly apathetically written article and revise your thinking about the Body of Christ on earth soon.

    • LasVegasBartender says:

      This is the same as it was in 1933 when the Jewish population of Germany was targeted for being Jewish. I am a descendant of a survivor of the camps. No one would take it seriously then. No one is taking it seriously now.
      I feel for all those trying to do nothing but believe in what they believe. It is wrong then, and it is wrong now. God, no matter what god would not accept what is happening. God always believes in your personal choice. They will not rewrite this article, I have called and failed in my attempts. It seems they are standing by the author.

      • Brian of the North says:

        Brian Dunning tends to dig his heels in on things, or if you’re lucky, he’ll have time to think of something snarky to say through one of his shows. Keep pushing it, though, and you’ll be blocked on social media. I got blocked for posting peer reviewed papers on the pause in global warming and the increase in ice sheet masses.

        • Noah Dillon says:

          You’ll notice that Brian Dunning is not the author of this essay. I don’t know why you’d invoke his name to criticize someone else’s work, or some unrelated topic to criticize this one. I just don’t get how ice sheets->Brian Dunning->Alison Hudson->ISIS. Seems like a non sequitur to me.

          • Brian of the North says:

            Oh, well then let me see if I can clear things up for you! A query was made as to why Skeptoid would not retract this misleading and error filled article. I used a an example of Brian Dunning because he is the owner and founder of this site. Perhaps you were not aware of this fact. “Ice sheets” were brought up as part of an illustration of what happens when you have a valid disagreement with Skeptoid. I’m sorry that you couldn’t make the logical leap between the stubbornness on that subject and the stubbornness of not acknowledging that Christians ARE BEING BRANDED AND THEN BEING BEHEADED BY ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

        • LasVegasBartender says:

          In Germany this was known as The normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects.
          Here it is just plain stubborn. If I get banned I guess I would be shouted out just like in 1933. This is sad.
          In the right situation, we are all capable of the most terrible crimes. To imagine a world where this was not so, where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper is not full of war and violence. Well, this is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human.

  39. Sarina says:

    It IS happening. They are not branding their flesh but it is written on the houses and businesses across the Middle East. Go do your research. In fact, The Voice of the Martyrs organization has published a book titled I am n with stories of Christians facing Islamic extremists. True stories. And marking the houses and business is true. You obviously have not done your research and posting things like this keeps people veiled to the truth. God help your ignorance.

  40. James Smith says:

    I can prima facie thoroughly prove you’re all Rothschild paid war criminals…

    • Noah Dillon says:

      You don’t mention Mike Rothschild by name. Are you sure he’s part of the same family? I have proof you one of those John Smiths who is part of government, and the ones that have made war, and those that have killed their wives and a young couple and broken into homes:

  41. morgan says: definition for “brand” as verb:
    ” verb (used with object) 9. to label or mark with or as if with a brand. 10. to mark with disgrace or infamy; stigmatize. ”

    Obviously K-LOVE used it correctly. I don’t even see why there’s a debate here; you can Google “ISIS killing Christians” and see photos.

    Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ.


  42. Shelley Higgins says:

    ISIS may not be literally branding people but they are branding/marking Christians’ homes with this symbol

  43. najdg says:

    I felt like this was a fairly balanced blog post with one exception: “It’s also worth noting that there’s only one source for this reported activity: something “told” to the news agencies by those who witnessed it. We don’t even know how common or widespread this phenomenon is.”

    CBS News and BBC have provided corroboration that this was going on in Mosul, and it doesn’t come from a single source. It was widely reported that mosques read aloud this threat letter from ISIS the day it happened. There are plentiful photos online of Mosul homes with the letter – and while I concede photoshop makes it easy to edit photos, the reality remains is that these photos are coming from several different sources. Finally, the prime minister of Iraq admitted and denounced this graffiti as an obvious display of intended violence against Christians.

    Again, this was mostly a fair blog post, but I feel like there was quite a bit of bias seeping out when challenging the veracity that the graffiti has been going on.

    • Eric Douglas says:

      The story was about ISIS branding house was confirmed weeks before this article was published, but the blog decided to post the story anyways. I am not sure whether the blog decided that it could get away with it, or just did not want to fact check it’s own writers. In either case this story should have never been posted. It was full of untruths, and lies.
      Telling people that they are not persecuted, when they are is a slap in the face. The same was done during WW2 when train loads of Jewish people were shipped to camp to be killed. “Oh no that could never happen in a modern day world.”People were saying. Now we look back and say how could we not believe it. Well how can we not believe this.
      Skeptoids would like to drop the whole thing as a small mistake, well how about manning up and saying we were wrong, it would mean you are human after all.

      • Noah Dillon says:

        The author clearly writes “there are ample verified reports coming out of Iraq that demonstrate that Christians in the country (mostly followers of the Syriac sects, such as Chaldeans) are targets of sectarian violence.” So no one has said that persecution isn’t happening. Furthermore, the author writes “In both cases, the reports accuse ISIS supporters of tagging or marking Christian houses. In other words, graffiti. While this is absolutely an act meant to identify Christians and likely target them for violence, it’s not nearly as horrific as the implied searing of the flesh of the faithful with Arabic letters.”

        It would be preferable that you read the article before calling its author a liar or a cheat. It says exactly the thing you claim it doesn’t.

        • Eric Douglas says:

          Everyone seems to accept that it is happening. And it’s easy to believe; there are ample verified reports coming out of Iraq that demonstrate that Christians in the country (mostly followers of the Syriac sects, such as Chaldeans) are targets of sectarian violence. But are the being branded with an Arabic ‘N’?

          No, they are not. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
          The author Clearly Writes. This can not be more clear!!!!!!!!

          • Noah Dillon says:

            I don’t understand your point. Yeah, there’s no evidence of people being scalded with a branding iron bearing the Arabic glyph for “N.” In your comment you mention ISIS marking/branding houses, with which the author concurs, in writing. You note that people are being persecuted and targeted with violence, with which assertion the author concurs, and that it’s well-documented. You claim that the author has denied these things, which she has not. You imply that she is lying or misinformed about the facts that you state, though the article clearly proves otherwise. You accuse Skeptoid of trying to con people, which has not happened.

            “Everyone seems to accept that it is happening.” The “it” in that sentence is “branding people’s skin,” that many Facebook users mistaken the word “branding” for “making a mark on the skin with a hot metal implement.” That’s all she’s saying in the article. Christians were having their houses marked for violence, not their skin. She says it really plainly.

            So what are you getting at?

          • eric douglas says:

            OK, Lets make it clear. Since I must not be.
            #1 The author claims homes and people are not be branded. They are. It was also reported on 60 minutes 2 weeks after this article came out. Let me make that clear. CBS reported this on their news service. She claims that ISIS or christian haters were not branding. They are! Understand?
            #2 “While this is absolutely an act meant to identify Christians and likely target them for violence” That statement hurts a little, likely? There is no likely in it is. IT IS HAPPENING!
            #3 “There’s no need to manufacture atrocities when there are so many already there to begin with.” Yes we do not need to lie about the atrocities or make up stories, but we should not dismiss the stories until proven false. They have been proven true.
            I hope I have made myself clear.

          • Noah Dillon says:

            1. Wrong. The author clearly states unequivocally that homes are being marked by ISIS to target people, including Christians for violence. Penultimate paragraph: “In both cases, the reports accuse ISIS supporters of tagging or marking Christian houses. In other words, graffiti. While this is absolutely an act meant to identify Christians and likely target them for violence, it’s not nearly as horrific as the implied searing of the flesh of the faithful with Arabic letters.”

            2. OK. I understand you take offense to the cautiousness of that statement. It is not related to your previous complaints.

            3. The author agrees that ISIS marking houses for violence is confirmed. She has merely dismissed the misconception by people reading about this on Facebook who have concluded that ISIS is branding people, rather than houses. ISIS is not branding people. That has not been demonstrated, as she notes. ISIS is branding houses. That has been documented, as she points out.

            You have made yourself clear, but you still don’t seem to have read the actual essay, since you’re still attributing to it claims that it does not make. Even when you acknowledge that she has verified the very same accounts of ISIS marking houses, you seem to dismiss that because she doesn’t use the right tone and it hurts. If you want to write an essay about this, go ahead. Your comments are redundant and repetitive and deny some pretty basic facts about what is written above.

          • Eric Douglas says:

            #1 I am not sure how much I can make this clear, 60 minutes reported 2 weeks after this article came out the BRANDING OF PEOPLE! YES people were being branded as reported on 60 minutes. I accept the fact the author says homes are being branded, but so were people.
            #2 Yes this is related to my previous statement. Lets go back in time and say that the camps had been reported before WW2 started. the world would have spoken up and Hitler would have to shut down the camps. Well maybe, but i am sure it would have tuned out differently maybe not 6 million, but maybe on 2 or 3 million would have died. Who knows. The world leaders knew and did nothing, not until the people found out were their trials and fingers pointed. To stress that maybe bad things are happening, or maybe some bad things could be happening, then I get angry. (I am a descendant of a survivor of the camps). I say lets hear all the bad stories and say they are real in case they might be. If they are not then we covered our *&^$ (well you know).
            #3 I would love to write a blog if I had the sources and time to do so. The world is changing and not for the better. More people speaking out needs to be done, not just here , but also North Korea, china, etc
            Every reporter and news person has a responsibility to bring the news fair and accurate. That does not mean that all do (I KNOW, I KNOW), but when I can speak up and say something I will.

            Thank You for your time

          • Noah Dillon says:

            OK, now you’re making a different argument.

            Do you have a link to the 60 Minutes segment? I can’t find it. I did find another CBS News item about houses being marked, but I can’t find a 60 Minutes segment about people being branded.

            I don’t think it’s fair and useful to repeat rumors on the chance that they are true. That seems like a bad idea and counterproductive. There are reporters who are describing the horrors of Iraq and Syria. Are those not awful enough? Sexual slavery, mutilation, execution, torture, kidnapping, black markets, religious violence, civil war, the fetishization of murder—it seems like ISIS has given us a lot of documented misery to grieve over without needing to believe in unverified or misrepresented events.

          • Eric Douglas says:

            It is the same argument since this thread began. However I give up. You win. I am wrong you are right. I am done. End of thread. Congrats

          • Noah Dillon says:

            Oh, because earlier you were talking about homes, not people. This isn’t about winning. You’re being dishonest and uncharitable.

            If you’ve got a link to the 60 Minutes piece, please share it.

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