Genocide is a strong word. But it has a precise definition. It now describes the situation with respect to religious minorities, specifically Christians and Yezidis, in areas of the Middle East controlled by ISIS.
Christians are being wiped out in the Middle East. In Iraq and Syria, they are being exterminated simply because they are Christians. They are being persecuted, tortured, and killed for their faith.
I have a pin inscribed with the Arabic letter “N.” I got it from the Family Research Council. FRC hopes people will wear the pins so, when asked about them, we can explain that the Arabic letter “N” painted on Christian homes in Iraq stands for “Nasrani,” the Arabic word for “Nazarene.” Nazarene is a slang term for Christians in Islamic-dominated, Middle Eastern nations. It’s a label similar to that which identified Jews before and during World War II and one ISIS employs to empty some of the oldest Christian communities in the world of Christians.
Among the specific atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians and Yezidis are these:
- Executions for not converting to Islam or as a terror tactic
- Beheading or crucifixion of children
- Organized sexual exploitation and torture
- The capture of women and girls as young as nine. This includes forcing them into sex slavery, forcing them to convert to Islam, and requiring that they raise children born of these rapes under the ISIS form of Islam
All this is part of ISIS’ quest to create a global Islamic caliphate that has been purged of all people they consider “unbelievers.”
One of the consequences of ISIS’ atrocities is the worst refugee crisis since World War II with four million internally displaced persons within Iraq alone. Many are living in tents and containers in Northern Iraq.
Few refugees are trickling into the US. On August 5th, the Catholic News Agency reported only about 28 of Syria’s approximately 700,000 displaced Christians were granted U.S. visas though 906 Muslims were granted the same.
Another agenda seems to be receiving more attention.
Last week the UN Security Council held its first-ever meeting on the persecution of homosexuals by Islamic State terrorists. After the meeting the United States Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power said it was “a sign that this issue is getting injected into the mainstream of the United Nations.” But what about the genocide of Christians?
Last year Congress passed legislation to create a post: Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia. But the White House has yet to fill this position. This spring 43 members of Congress wrote the president asking him to move swiftly to fill this spot.
The federal government and the United Nations are not rescuing Christians from extinction at the hands of ISIS. What has given refugees hope is the church, specifically Chaldean Catholics. We, the American church, must take notice — and help.