Religious Minorities Under Siege in Iraq (VIDEO)

According to a recent report by a bipartisan religious freedom watchdog group, Iraq is one of the most dangerous places on earth for religious minorities.

Accusing Iraq's government of tolerating severe abuses of religious freedom, the panel asked that Iraq be designated a "country of particular concern," a status that would "encourage a robust policy response." The report comes on the heels of more bad news from the northern city of Mosul, which hosts a sizeable Christian population.

On Monday, seven people from a single family were murdered by gunmen who stormed into their home. They were targeted for being members of the minority Yazidi sect.

In October, an estimated 13,000 Christians fled Mosul and its surrounding areas. Countrywide, the Christian population in Iraq has nearly halved since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Facing forced conversions, kidnapping for ransom, and murder, religious minorities represent a starkly disproportionate amount of those who've left their homes to find safety elsewhere.

As a result of this war, one of the world's oldest religions, the Sabean Mandaens, is in danger of becoming extinct.

The Sabean-Mandaens live in small groups spread across the country, lack the protection provided by a tribal structure, and advocate strict pacifism. As a result, they've fallen easy prey to violent extremist Muslim groups who view them as infidels.

Before the 2003 U.S. invasion, approximately 30,000 Mandaeans lived in Iraq. Today their numbers may be as few as 3,500.

Layla is a Sabean Mandaen who fled Iraq in 2005 after a militia group wearing Iraqi police uniforms kidnapped her husband, and following his refusal to convert to Islam, tortured and killed him in front of their 13 year-old son.

Hear Layla's story here.

View more stories like these by visiting Iraqi Refugee Stories.