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John Kerry should recognize Christian genocide

In October, Islamic State militants in Syria demanded that two Christian women and six men convert to Islam. When they refused, the women were publicly raped and then beheaded along with the men. On the same day, militants cut off the fingertips of a 12-year-old boy in an attempt to force his Christian father to convert. When his father refused, they were brutalized and then crucified.

This has become the plight of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIL or ISIS. Beheadings, crucifixions and enslavement are visited on those who won’t renounce their religious beliefs. The lucky ones are murdered in more mundane ways or driven from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

This year, we’ve seen a Newsweek cover exclaiming, “The New Exodus: Christians Flee ISIS in the Middle East,” and a New York Times piece asking, “Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?” The progressive Center for American Progress noted in a March report, “Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are disappearing in the very lands where their faith was born and first took root.”

One of the authors of that report, Brian Katulis, has joined forces with a diverse group of Christian leaders to urge the State Department to recognize what everyone else seems to see: There is an ongoing genocide against Middle Eastern Christians at the hands of radical jihadists.

In a letter sent to the State Department on Friday, a wide range of leaders — including the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference — requested a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry to make this case. (They’ve received no response.) The matter is urgent as the State Department is reportedly poised to designate ISIL’s attacks on the Yazidi people of Iraq as a genocide.
There is no question that the Yazidis — who practice an ancient religion that includes elements of Islam and Christianity — deserve the designation. But so do Christians, along with other minority religious groups in the Middle East. A 2014 United Nations resolution noted that while many members of religious and ethnic minorities are suffering at the hands of ISIL, Christians and Yazidis deserved special mention.

Indeed, ISIL warned Christians in a video, “You will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam.” Its militants or their affiliates have murdered or claimed credit for killing Christians in Syria, Nigeria, Iraq and Libya.

Invoking the “g word” to recognize this fact is not just a matter of semantics. “Groups that have been designated as genocide victims are much more likely to receive military protection, including arming and training their militias for self-defense, which is always the best defense against genocide,” Gregory Stanton, the former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, told me. “Members of such groups are also much more likely to receive preferential treatment as bona fide refugees under the U.N. convention and protocols on the status of refugees.”
The State Department’s disinterest in including Christians in its potential genocide designation appears to rely on a recent Holocaust Memorial Museum report asserting that, unlike Yazidis, Christians are not suffering from genocidal attacks because ISIL gives them the “option of paying the jizya (tax) to avoid conversion or death” because they, like Jews, are “people of the book.”

Unfortunately, this does not reflect reality. The Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea — a renowned religious persecution expert — explained to me: “In most examples, there is no jizya option (for Christians) and, when there is, the ISIL tax is so ruinous that eventually a family’s property and even children are taken and all are forced to convert to Islam or killed.”

ISIL doesn’t want to co-exist with Middle Eastern Christians. It wants to eliminate them. Let’s stop pretending otherwise and call this what it is: a genocide.

Original article can be read here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/12/07/isil-murder-christians-middle-east-recognition-genocide-column/76932274/

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Brutal Persection of Christians Is Genocide, Groups Cry Out

There’s a growing outcry for the Christian persecution in the Middle East under ISIS to be acknowledged as genocide.

“It is our moral and historical duty” to acknowledge that “Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people face another genocide in the Middle East and existential threat,” a statement from the European Syriac Union said.

Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham said that President Barack Obama has indicated he recognizes the persecution Yazidis at the hands of ISIS as genocide, but not Christians.

“Mass murder, crucifixions, beheadings, enslavement, rape, destruction of churches, theft of lands and wealth, and forcible conversion to Islam – all are horrors that Christians in the Middle East are experiencing,”Graham said in a Facebook statement on Tuesday.

Kirsten Powers reported for USA Today that other Christian leaders, including the archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, have urged the administration to recognize the persecution extremes Christians are suffering.

A video released by ISIS specifically warns Christians saying, “You will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Monday called for groups systematically persecuted by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – Christians, Yazidis, Shi’as, Turkmen and Shabaks – to be recognized as victims of genocide.

“The hallmark of genocide is the intent to destroy a national, racial, ethnic, or religious group, in whole or in part,” USCIRF chairman Robert George said.

“Christians face another genocide with a non state actor which aggravate and complex the situation,” ESU spokesman David Vergili said in a statement to Christian Today. “In this regards, the rapid action by the international community is vital in order to stop metastasising of the harm inflicted in these ancient communities.”

Read original article here: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2015/December/Brutal-Persection-of-Christians-Is-Genocide-Groups-Cry-Out/

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