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U.S. House passes legislation to aid Christian and Yazidi genocide victims in Iraq and Syria

Good to see that this initiative wasn’t decried as “Islamophobic.”

“Smith Bill to Help Christian Genocide Victims in Iraq and Syria,” Shore News Network, November 28, 2018:

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) legislation to provide humanitarian relief to genocide victims in Iraq and Syria, and hold ISIS perpetrators accountable—HR 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018—passed the House on Tuesday night and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law, after over two years in the making.

“When genocide or other atrocity crimes are perpetrated, the United States should direct humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery aid to enable these people to survive–especially when they are minorities whose existence as a people is at-risk,” Smith stated on the House Floor before the vote. “HR 390 would ensure our actions match our words.” (Click here to read excerpts of Rep. Smith’s Floor remarks.)

Less than 200,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from 1.4 million in 2002 and 500,000 in 2013, before ISIS swept through the region on its genocidal campaign. Many of the remaining Christians in Iraq are displaced, mostly in Erbil in the Kurdistan region, and need assistance to return to their homes and stay in Iraq. After the ISIS invasion, 60,000 Yazidis fled to Europe, and of the 550,000 Yazidis still in Iraq, 280,000 remain displaced and only 20 percent have been able to return to their historic homeland of Sinjar, according to the Yazdi organization Yazda. Those displaced will also need assistance to return to their homes.

Smith introduced the legislation in 2016 and again in 2017, with lead Democratic cosponsor Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). “Tens of thousands of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria were targeted for genocide by ISIS between 2014 and 2017,” Rep. Eshoo said. “As survivors return to their homes and begin rebuilding their communities, the United States government must make it a priority to help families in need of assistance now, while ensuring the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are held accountable. H.R. 390 will aid in these efforts and send a powerful message to these communities that we haven’t forgotten them. I thank Chairman Smith for his passionate leadership on this issue and I look forward to the President swiftly signing this legislation into law.”

Among other key provisions, H.R. 390 authorizes and directs the Administration to:

  • Fund entities, including faith-based ones, that are providing humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery aid on-the-ground to genocide survivors from religious and ethnic minorities;
  • Assess and address the humanitarian vulnerabilities, needs, and triggers that might force these survivors to flee;
  • Identify warning signs of deadly violence against religious and ethnic minority communities in Iraq or Syria that have been victims of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes;
  • Support entities conducting criminal investigation into ISIS perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq – including collecting and preserving evidence that links specific perpetrators to specific atrocity crimes and is usable in a range of courts; and
  • Encourage foreign governments to add identifying information about suspected ISIS perpetrators to their security databases and security screening and to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators….

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images originally appeared on Jihad Watch. It is republished with permission. The featured image is from the Yezidis Genocide Tracking Group on Facebook.

Austria recognizes ISIS genocide against Christians

It is comforting to finally hear the truth being recognized by Austria, along with a determination to assist the victims.

According to the American Center for Law and Justice:

In Syria, the Islamic State has beheaded and stoned men, women, and children for blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy. One Christian Syrian woman described ‘Christians being killed and tortured, and … children being beheaded in front of their parents…

The Center continued:

Assyrian Christians have faced mass kidnappings; children and adults have been tortured for refusing to deny their faith in Christ; and other Christian children have been raped and burned to death by the radicals.

Anglican Reverend Andrew White, aka the “Vicar of Baghdad,” recounted the story of Iraqi Christian before they were slaughtered by Islamic State militants:

Children…were told by ISIS militants to convert to Islam or be killed. Their response? “No, We Love Yeshua (Jesus).”

It is atrocious that peaceful Christians have not been long prioritized by Western nations as refugees; they are not only victims of war but targets of murder and violence by jihadists for their faith. One could not begin to imagine the global reaction and outcry if Christians or Jews were murdering innocent Muslims in the name of their religion, and such an outcry would be warranted. Meanwhile, the word “Islamophobia” keeps getting rammed down the throats of Western infidels in the face of such atrocities committed against Christians and other human beings in the name of Islam. Such lack of sensitivity and remorse is telling.

“Austria Among First Nations to Recognize ISIS’ Genocide Against Christians”, by Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post, June 21, 2017:

Austria has become one of the first countries in the world to not only formally recognize the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria, but also to advance a seven-point plan aimed at helping victims.

The American Center for Law and Justice reported on Tuesday that the Austrian National Council formally recognized earlier in June the “heinous atrocities” being committed by the Islamic State terror group against Christians and other religious minorities, and committed itself to carrying out at least three steps of a seven-point plan to help those who are displaced.

“Austria has become one of the first countries to take a decisive stand,” the ACLJ wrote, calling it a “major step forward” in the conservative group’s campaign to rescue followers of Christ.

The legal group launched its seven-point plan last year, the details of which are available on the ACLJ website, and has urged U.N. member states to join the fight against genocide.

The plan in question calls for the establishment of in-region “safe zones” for genocide victims fleeing radical terror, along with expanding military efforts as part of the international coalition to defeat IS.

“It is imperative that we continue to pressure the U.N. and the international community in order to provide the relief these victims so desperately need,” the ACLJ urged, calling on people to join the cause as the legal group expands its “largest global legal advocacy campaign in defense of Christians facing jihadist genocide.”

In its letters to the U.N., the group has highlighted the urgency of cooperation when it comes to fighting IS.

“In Syria, the Islamic State has beheaded and stoned men, women, and children for blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy. One Christian Syrian woman described ‘Christians being killed and tortured, and … children being beheaded in front of their parents,’” the law group has said.

It added that Assyrian Christians have faced mass kidnappings; children and adults have been tortured for refusing to deny their faith in Christ; and other Christian children have been raped and burned to death by the radicals……

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Christian Persecution by Muslims in 2015 at ‘Levels Akin to Ethnic Cleansing’

Persecution of Christians is on the rise, with 2015 the most violent year in modern history for members of the faith. That is the conclusion of a new report by Open Doors USA, a non-profit group that has been monitoring Christian persecution worldwide since 1955.

The group says last year persecution of Christians reached “a level akin to ethnic cleansing,”

The report notes, “Islamic extremism remains by far the most common driver of persecution: in eight out of the top 10, and 35 out of the top 50 countries, it is the primary cause. A rise in Islamic extremism sees Pakistan at its highest position ever, and Libya entering the top ten for the first time.”

Worldwide, the report notes, according to conservative estimates and excluding North Korea, Syria and Iraq (where records do not exist), over 7,000 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons in this past year  – a rise of almost 3,000 from the previous year.

Close to 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged – over double the number for last year.

In addition, the report also states “all the time, beneath these ‘headline’ events, there is constant, low-level, localized persecution. Christians are driven out of their communities, refused burial, denied jobs or education. Churches are torn down because of local opposition or mob rule. For millions of Christians, the everyday persecution happens in their village, or even among their family.”

The following are some of the main outtakes from the report:

Islamic extremism has been crossing borders:

The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) has moved beyond Syria and Iraq and into Libya. Boko Haram has spread to Cameroon and Chad, and al-Shabaab into Kenya. Meanwhile, many smaller extremist movements have declared themselves part of the ISIS group of caliphates. Even the West has felt the tremors. Bombs in Paris, gunfights in California, holidaymakers killed on a Tunisian beach: in a globalized world, there is no such place as abroad anymore.

Many parts of the Muslim world are becoming more Islamic:

All over the Middle East especially, Muslims are becoming more fundamentalist, partly out of fear that extremists may take over. However, there is a counter-trend as many Muslims search for a new identity as they turn away in disgust from extremism. Many are choosing Christianity as a faith instead.

African countries continue to move into the top 50:

Islamic extremism in the world today has two hubs, one in the Middle East, the other in sub-Saharan Africa. Sixteen countries in the top 50 are from Africa, seven in the top 20. In numerical terms, if not in degree, the persecution of Christians in this region dwarfs what is happening in the Middle East.
More state
s are lawless, and minorities suffer violence:

Much of Syria and Iraq has become effectively lawless, with Christian communities especially targeted. In lawless Libya, migrant Christians from Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea were brutally executed, and the tiny Muslim-background believer church has been driven even further into hiding. In Yemen, Saudi-led forces make it even harder for the few Christians remaining.

Never have so many Christians been on the move:

The “migrant crisis” is not limited to the Mediterranean. Tens of thousands of Christians fled the 12 Islamic Sharia states of northern Nigeria. In Kenya, Christians are fleeing the Muslim majority areas. Every month, thousands leave Eritrea, braving desert and trafficking gangs. Even Pakistani Christians are fleeing to countries in South East Asia.

Ethnic cleansing is back as an anti-Christian tactic:

In the Middle East and Africa, persecution increasingly takes the form of ethnic cleansing. In middle-belt Nigeria, Christians have been forcefully removed from their homes and indigenous land by the Hausa-Fulani settlers. In Sudan, Nuba Christians have been indiscriminately targeted and killed. The intent is to remove or even exterminate Christians.

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of police beating a Pakistani Christian. (Photo: © Reuters)

Muslim Persecution of Christians: Call it what it is — GENOCIDE

While I prefer to speak of our age as the New Era of Christian Martyrdom, by the secular definition, the global Muslim persecution of Christians, especially that perpetrated by the Islamic State in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, clearly should be classified as genocide.

Observers have been calling it genocide for years now, including the highly respected Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), head of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, and Pope Francis I of Rome.

Now the issue is front and center in a unique way, as the U.S State Department is set to release its findings on whether ISIS is indeed committing genocide against minority groups in the Middle East. This report will influence U.S. policy on everything from refugee issues, to immigration, to the war against ISIS, to aid to Middle East and African nations, and so on.

Kirsten Powers, in an important article in USA Today, emphasizes the urgency of the genocide ruling:

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.”

An article in CRUX sets out the concerns many Christians have that the Obama administration is preparing to exclude Christians from its category of groups suffering genocide:

A group of 30 Christian leaders, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, has asked for a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in advance of the State Department’s declaration of genocides taking place around the world.

The group believes Middle East Christians should be included in any listing of genocide victims based on their treatment by the Islamic State, commonly called ISIS.

“We recently learned that a State Department finding is imminent that ISIS is committing genocide against the Yazidis,” an Iraqi ethnic group that traces its origins to biblical times, said the Dec. 4 letter to Kerry. “We would wholeheartedly endorse that finding, but we are deeply troubled by the prospect that the department’s statement will either omit or reserve judgment on whether ISIS is committing genocide against Christians” in the Nineveh area since summer 2014.

The State Department seems to be paving the way for exclusion of Christians from its findings through a series of statements and press reports. The CRUX article continues:

One reason given for the State Department not counting Christians as genocide victims, according to the letter, is that it “lacks sufficient information about the experience of the Christian communities in Nineveh during that time to conclude that genocide took place.” […]

Another reason is a press report indicating that “unlike Yazidis, ISIS gives Christians a ‘choice’: They can convert to Islam, pay an Islamic tax, or be killed, enslaved, tortured, or held hostage. The implication is that ISIS abides by traditional Islamic sharia, under which other ‘people of the book’ — Christians and Jews — pay a tax in exchange for protection by their Muslim rulers,” the letter said. “We would like the opportunity to explain why this is emphatically not the case.”

Note the naked hypocrisy here. The Obama administration steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the Islamic State as “Islamic,” yet when it comes to the question of whether ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, the State Department presents ISIS’ application of the terms of the dhimma contract in offering Christians the classic three choices mandated by Islamic law, as evidence that ISIS is not committing genocide against Christians, but showing them tolerance.

Only the devil himself would make such an argument.

The letter from the Christian leaders goes on to say:

“The world recoiled when it learned that ISIS jihadis had stamped Christian homes in Mosul with the red letter ‘N’ for “Nazarene” in summer 2014, but the elimination of Christians in other towns and cities in Iraq and Syria began long beforehand. ISIS genocidal campaign against Christians continues today, with hundreds of Christians remaining in ISIS captivity, and with summary executions, including by beheadings and crucifixions, occurring as recently as only a few months ago.”

It added, “Pope Francis has called ISIS’ crimes against Christians by their proper name: ‘genocide.’ The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Christian leaders in the Middle East have done so as well. We agree, and are hopeful that, once you have seen the evidence, you will, too.”

In arguing for a meeting, the letter said it was “critically important that the State Department consider the best available evidence before making any official pronouncement that rejects allegations that Christian are, along with Yazidis, targets of ongoing genocidal acts.”

In a similar effort reported on by the Daily Signal, a conference of academic, religious and media experts urged Secretary of State John Kerry to include Christians in the genocide ruling:

Last week, at a panel organized by The Heritage Foundation to discuss modern Christian martyrs, academic, religious, and media leaders discussed the persecution–as well as the inattention being paid to the issue by developed nations including the United States.

“I am always struck by how utterly abandoned the patriarchs and church leaders [in the Middle East] whose lives are on the line every day … how utterly abandoned they feel by the West, and particularly the United States,” said Kathryn Jean Lopez, a senior fellow with the National Review Institute and one of the event’s co-hosts.

According to recent estimates, the Christian population in Iraq has dropped to roughly 260,000, down from 1.5 million a decade ago.

The shift likely reflects continuing forced expulsions of Christians from northern Iraq and Syria, as well as abductions and murders by extremist leaders who, earlier this year, declared the coexistence of Muslims with Jews and Christians impossible according to the Quran.

“Forcing a population to leave [its homeland] is one of the five tests, and they don’t all need to be met, but it’s one of the tests for genocide,” said Patrick E. Kelly, executive director of the St. John Paul II National Shrine and a member of the Knights of Columbus. Kelly was referring to the five tenets of qualifying characteristics that constitute Article II of the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention definition of genocide.

Those qualifying characteristics include murder, causing serious harm, imposing conditions of life that attempt to destroy, preventing births, and forcibly transferring children outside a specific national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

“I think we have a tendency to think governments always know what’s going on on the ground,” Kelly continued. “They don’t always have the best information. But churches often do, because of the grassroots, with-the-people nature of parishes and ministries. If governments say they don’t have the evidence, they can do more to get the evidence, but they should be listening to the faith communities as well.”

As of this week, according to sources, the State Department does not plan to include Christians in a statement to be released on the status of victims of ISIS-inflicted genocide in the region. The statement will include Yazidis, the Kurdish religious minority.

Carey Lodge, writing in Christianity Today, reports on the efforts of the European Syriac Union (ESU) to influence the Obama State Department’s findings:

“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 ESU said.

“Commemoration of Victims of Genocides and Crimes against Humanity is [an] essential responsibility to the humanity and international community. Commemoration [of] past atrocities around the world is [a] strong sign of remembrance of the victims and solidarity with the current threatened groups, ethnic and religious communities.”

The US 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 recognised 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,” said USCIRF chairman Robert George.

“ISIL’s intent to destroy religious groups that do not subscribe to its extremist ideology in the areas in Iraq and Syria that it controls, or seeks to control, is evident in, not only its barbarous acts, but also its own propaganda.”

The population of Christians in the Middle East has fallen “in an incessant way” over recent years, the ESU said.

The fall of Mosul, once considered the heartland of Iraq’s Christian population, and the occupation of the Ninevah plains by ISIS has led to a mass exodus of Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian people, the union added. They face “annihilation and destruction” under ISIS, it said…

In a statement to Christian Today, spokesman for the ESU David Vergili said:

“Christians face another genocide with a non state actor which aggravate and complex the situation. 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.

Although the U.S. State Department has been seeding its reasons for probable exclusion of Christians from the genocide ruling through its various statements, they are not fooling anyone. Some Christian leaders, such as Chaldean Bishop Francis Kalabat of Michigan, sharply criticize the Obama administration for its persistent refusal to acknowledge Muslim genocide of Christians:

The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church for Michigan and the eastern half of the U.S. sharply criticized the Obama administration Wednesday, saying it has largely ignored the suffering of Christians displaced by war in Syria and Iraq and should do more to protect and resettle them.

Testifying before a U.S. House subcommittee, Bishop Francis Kalabat of Southfield said while the State Department may soon declare that the Yazidi people, a religious minority in Iraq, face genocide at the hands of the Islamic State or ISIS, it leaves unaddressed problems faced by other religious minorities.

“There are more than 150,000 Iraqi Christians who are now displaced in northern Iraq or are refugees in other countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey,” Kalabat said. “There are countless Christian villages in Syria that have been taken over by ISIS and have encountered genocide, and the Obama administration refuses to recognize their plight. … I say, shame on you.”

Most likely, the Obama administration will not label Muslim persecution of Christians genocide, as it would be in direct conflict with Obama’s narrative, that there is nothing inherently Islamic about the Islamic State. Admit genocide against the Yazidis, by all means. Give up a few points there to provide the appearance of action and toughness. But to acknowledge that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians would be to admit that there is a specifically religious dimension to the persecution, thus immediately bringing Islam itself under even greater scrutiny.

Too late, Mr. President. More and more people are waking up and coming to realize that there is something very dark and sinister at the core of Islam.

Islam is the problem. It mandates jihad and persecution against Christians, Jews and all non-Muslims. The Koran says what it means and means what it says:

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [i.e. Islam] among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Sura 9:29)

Why don’t you repent, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, and join us? Call Muslim persecution of Christians by its name: Genocide. Your conscience will thank you for it. So will Christians the world over. The Islamic State will continue committing genocide regardless of what you do, unless Putin stops them.

ABOUT RALPH SIDWAY

Ralph Sidway is an Orthodox Christian researcher and writer, and author of Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad. He operates the Facing Islam blog.

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Found: Mass Grave of 120 Yazidis Slaughtered by the Islamic State

The bodies of more than 120 Yazidis have been found in a mass grave near the town of Sinjar, Iraq.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces retook Sinjar earlier this month. Last year the Islamic State overran the area after storming most of northern Iraq including the city of Mosul.

Between 10,000 and 40,000 Yazidi civilians were trapped on Mount Sinjar, surrounded by ISIS fighters, without access to food and water. Kurdish forces were able to rescue an estimated 20,000 Yazidis and supplies were airdropped to those stranded on the mountain.

This find marks the sixth time this month that a mass grave has been found. The official in charge of the area, Mahma Kalil, said the grave had been rigged with explosives by ISIS fighters before Kurds recaptured the area.

An earlier mass grave contained the bodies of 80 women aged 40 to 80. One official suspected the women were killed because they were too old to rape and enslave.

The Yazidis are regarded by the Islamic State as devil worshippers, because of their unique religion. ISIS has captured thousands of Yazidi girls and forced them into sex-slavery.

For more information about the Islamic State and its campaign of genocide against the Yazidis, see Clarion Project’s Special Report:The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) 

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a Kurdish soldier examining remains from a mass grave. (Photo: Screenshot from video).

Islamic State Genocide of Assyrian Christians

This week graphic evidence emerged of ISIS’ genocide and subjugation of Christian communities in the great swath of territory in Syria and Iraq  conquered by the self-declared Salafist Sunni Islamic State.  The Middle East has been thrown into turmoil by the recent entry of Russian military forces attacking opposition to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the bloody four year civil war that has killed over 250,000 civilians. That conflict gave rise to the Islamic State, a throw back to the barbaric jihad perpetrated by the founder of Islam, Mohammed and his five companions.

MEMRI released today an ISIS video containing a threat to Christians in Qaryatayn, Syria to “Pay Jizya-Or You will be executed and your Wives Enslaved.”  Nina Shea, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom  published today on the National Review On-line another graphic bloody ISIS spectacle. This  was  directed at  the ethnic cleansing of the ancient Chaldean Christian community with the execution of three men, “ISIS and Religious Genocide in the Mideast”.

Note these excerpts from Shea’s compelling piece:

Yesterday, we learned that three Christians captured from Assyrian villages in Syria last February were executed by ISIS on September 23, 2015  in a desert area, somewhere in the “Caliphate,” and that possibly hundreds of other murders will follow. After the jihadist’ demands for $10 million in ransom money were not met, the three Christian men were murdered with a single shot to the back of each head as they were lined up, on their knees, garbed in orange jumpsuits. In its video of this execution, ISIS threatens to kill the 202 remaining Christian hostages from the February raid. It is probably not a coincidence that September 23rd  was the Muslim commemoration of the “Feast of Sacrifice” (Eid al-Adha).

In the video, which was broadcast on Lebanese television on Wednesday, each victim first identifies himself as an Assyrian Christian, and then states his name, year of birth, and home village: “I am Assyrian Christian Ashur Abraham, from the village of Tel Tamar, Jazira.” “I am Assyrian Christian Basam Essa Michael, born in 1976, from the village of Tel Shamiram, Tel Tamar.” “I am Assyrian Christian Abdulmasih Enwiya, born in 1997, from the village of Jazira district of Tel Tamar.” Three militants in black masks then appear behind the kneeling Christians and raise their guns to administer the point-blank shots. The Christians tumble forward, dead.

The video next shows three other Christian men on their knees behind the bodies of the three just killed. The new group of prisoners repeats the pattern, first stating their ethnic and religious identities and then their names and home villages. “I am Assyrian Christian Zaya George Elia, born in 1988, from the village of Shameran District of Tel Tamar.” “I am Assyrian Christian William Youhana Melham District of Tel Tamar, village of Tel Shameran, born in 1964.” “I am Assyrian Christian Marden Tamraz, born in 1966, village of Tel Jazira.” The last to speak points to the three bodies before them and states, “We are here and there are dozens of us. Our fate is the same as these. If you do not take proper procedure for our release, we realize the inevitable fate.”

These victims were from the string of 35 Assyrian Christian villages along the strategic Khabour river valley in Hassake. ISIS militants, in a convoy of 40 pickup trucks, ISIS’s trademark vehicles, captured this undefended area between its strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul after being flushed out of nearby Kobani last winter. Kobani was a highly touted Coalition victory against ISIS. Perhaps the doctoring of military assessments at CentCom explains why less is said about the linked strategic failure in the Khabour river valley. No American airstrikes against the offensive there were made until after the villages had been taken and over 200 of their residents kidnapped, and then only after a campaign was launched by Christian activists.

[…]

This is genocide and we are morally and legally bound to help them. A military resolution to this crisis will be too late for these peoples. Catholic priest Father Douglas Bazi, the director of the renowned Mar Elias refugee encampment for Iraqi Christians in Erbil, tells me: “Help us live. Help us leave.” They need visas. The West can easily provide them, and it must.

In the wake of the Syrian refugee and illegal migrant flood of Europe, the Administration has raised the allotments for humanitarian refugees for both 2016 and 2017 to 85,000 and 100,000 persons with priority preferences for Syrians fleeing from detention camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. However, there is little to no mention of preferences to rescue Middle East Christians and other ancient religious minorities targeted by ISIS for genocide.

Joseph T_ Kassab

Joseph T. Kattab of ICAE.

That will be the subject of a segment in Sunday’s Lisa Benson Show on October 11, 2014. You will hear about the threats and compelling need for rescue of Chaldean Christians through the State Department P2/P3 Family Reunification Program by veteran community leader Joseph T. Kassab, of the Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute (ICAE).

Mr. Kassab, a native of the Nineveh Plains of Iraq, came to the US in 1980 as a refugee from the tyranny of the Saddam Hussein regime following completion of his education at the University of Baghdad and its Medical School under the Auspices of the Royal College of Medicine in the UK. After completing additional graduate studies at Wayne State University in Michigan, he established a professional career in micro-biology.  He also emerged as a vigorous advocate for rescue of his fellow Chaldean Christians before Congress, and at both domestic and international conferences. He is the President and Founder of ICAE.  He has appeared on both radio and TV interview programs on the threats and rescue of Chaldeans. Most significantly, he has facilitated the rescue of  more than 25,000 of his co-religionists from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

The Lisa Benson Show will air Sunday, October 11 at 4PM EDT, 3PM CDT, 2PM MDT, 1PM PDT and 11PM in IsraelListen live to the Lisa Benson Radio Show for National Security on KKNT 960The Patriot or use SMARTPHONE iHEART App: 960 the Patriot.   Lisa Benson and New English Review Senior Editor Jerry Gordon will co-host this show.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Syria: Christians Forced From Home by U.S. Coalition Fighters

The following article appeared originally on GatestoneInstitute.org and was reprinted with permission.

Not only is the Islamic State (ISIS) persecuting Christians but so are the U.S.-supported “rebel” forces in Syria, which the Obama administration assures are “moderate.” According to a recent National Public Radio (NPR) report, “With backing from U.S. allies, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, this [U.S. supported] rebel coalition fights both the Syrian regime and the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS. But the coalition has extremists in its own ranks who have mistreated Christians and forced them out of their homes”—just as ISIS has done.

In response, Mideast Christian leaders have made clear that, far from expecting the West to intervene on their behalf, they merely wish that the West would stop arming, supporting, or even facilitating the Islamic terrorists who are making their lives a living hell. The crisis was spelled out in an article in Christian Today, entitled, “Syrian Christian leader tells West: ‘Stop arming terror groups who are massacring our people.'”

According to the Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, “If the West wants to do something about the present crisis, the most effective thing would be to support local governments, which need sufficient armies and forces to maintain security and defend respective populations against attacks. State institutions need to be strengthened and stabilized. Instead, what we see is their forced dismemberment being fueled from the outside.”

Another Christian leader had another message to the West. According to Iraqi priest, Fr. Douglas Bazi, once a torture victim who now takes care of thousands of refugees forced to flee Mosul since the Islamic State took over the city last year, the West needs to “Wake up!”

During celebrations of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Iraqi priest further reflected that, “We cannot celebrate the feast of two martyrs without remembering the living martyrs of our time.”

These martyrs are not limited to the Middle East. Among the many Christians slaughtered in Nigeria in July was a young girl who was stoned to death for refusing to renounce Christ and convert to Islam. Pastor Mark lost his daughter, Monica, in the Chibok abduction, in which almost 300 predominantly Christian girls were kidnapped at the hands of the Islamic organization, Boko Haram. He was told that his daughter refused to change her religion, so she was buried from the neck down, and then stoned to death.

The rest of July’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed by theme.

Attacks on Christian Churches

Nigeria: Dozens of Christian churches were attacked in the Muslim-majority northern regions, where Boko Haram is headquartered:

  • Thirty-two churches and 300 houses were burnt when Boko Haram jihadis attacked Mussa community in Borno State. Thirteen people were also killed in the jihad.
  • female Muslim suicide bomber blew herself up in the Redeemed Christian Church of God on Sunday, July 5, in the town of Potiskum. The priest and a woman and her two children were killed. “People were just going to the church when the bomber entered, otherwise the casualty figure would have been higher,” said a Red Cross worker. Earlier it was revealed that some of the nearly 300 Christian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last year were being beaten, forced to convert to Islam, and indoctrinated into believing that their mission is to “slit the throats of Christians and to carry out suicide attacks.”
  • On Sunday, July 12, explosives planted at a church in Jos went off but there were no casualties; the bomb was detected by the church’s security personnel.
  • In response to a mosque explosion that killed 20 people—part of Boko Haram’s “Ramadan killing spree“—rioting Muslims burned down two churches on July 6 in Jos. According to the report, the mosque attack “has revived historic tensions between members of both faiths in Jos. Christians in Nigeria now not only fear Boko Haram, but also attacks from their Muslim neighbors.”

Iraq: The Islamic state blew up another Christian church under its authority, the Mother of Aid Church, which had stood in central Mosul for thousands of years. The blast also killed four children who were near the church at the time. ISIS also transformed the St. Joseph Church, an ancient Chaldean church in Mosul, into a mosque. Pictures of St. Joseph show that the dome has been painted black and the church has been stripped of all crosses and Christian symbols and images.

Egypt: Three church-related attacks took place: The Fathers Church in eastern Alexandria was attacked on July 21 by unknown assailants who hurled Molotov cocktails and other homemade bombs at the church. No one was injured, although the facade of the church was damaged. Security services discovered a bag with more firebombs on the scene from where the assailants had fled. According to El Watan, the incident created a “state of panic” in the area, especially because the Fathers Church is considered the most important church for the Coptic Catholics of the region.

  • Muslims suspended prayer in a church in the village of Arab Asnabt in Abu Qurqas, Minya, and called for demolishing it in an effort “to prevent Coptic Christians from practicing their religious rites.”
  • Dozens of “incensed” Muslims congregated before the house of a Christian on the accusation that he was trying to use his home as a church. Security services arrived in time to disperse the angry Muslims. Coptic Christians trying to—or merely being accused of—turning their homes into churches in Egypt is not uncommon, and, in accordance with Islamic law, ultimately reflects the difficulties Christians face in building or even renovating existing churches.

Niger: Approximately 70 Christian churches and an orphanage continue facing a lack of resources and difficult conditions in attempts to rebuild them six months after thousands of Muslims had attacked and destroyed them. The onslaught was in “revenge” for the offending Muhammad cartoons published by the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo—a secular magazine based in France that also mocks Christianity. “Since these incidents, it is as if life had stopped,” said Baptist pastor Jacques Kangindé. His home was also destroyed during the riots. Recalling the destroyed church, the pastor said: “I felt very bad, such an indescribable feeling when I saw my ripped-up Bible on the ground. For a pastor, it was like my entire life was torn apart. I could not stop shedding tears.”

Violence and Slaughter of Christians

NigeriaBoko Haram jihadis shot and killed 29 people in two Christian enclaves of northeast Nigeria. Most people in Dille village ran, but those who could not were gunned down and many homes were set ablaze. Separately, at a busy market in northeastern Damaturu town, a woman suicide bomber blew herself up, killing 15 people and wounding 50. And in Maikadiri village, at least 14 people were killed and 500 cows were slaughtered.

IraqChristians kidnapped and held for ransom continue to be slaughtered even after their ransom is paid. The body of Quais Abdul Shaya was returned to his family—after they had paid the demanded ransom of $25,000 USD. Saher Hanna, who worked at the Ministry of the Interior, was also killed after his Islamic abductors received his ransom. Killing Christian hostages, including children, after receiving payment is not limited to the Islamic State and occurs in other Muslim nations such as Egypt.

Libya: Unconfirmed reports, including from the Libyan Herald, say that the Islamic State executed another Egyptian Coptic Christian it had seized. Bekhit Nageh Efrank Ebeid, a 25-year-old laborer, was kidnapped along with two other Christians, Kofi Frimpong Sekyere from Ghana and Ibrahim Adeola from Nigeria.

EgyptAn unknown man attacked a Coptic nun. According to Fr. Abdel Quddus, “An unknown person stalked a sister in the diocese of Fashn, Beni Suef, and attacked her last week with a bladed weapon while she was outside her residence. He then hit her head against the wall and fled.” And Wadie Ramses, a Christian who was kidnapped and held for 92 days by Islamic militants in the Sinai desert, managed to escape. During his time in captivity, he was blindfolded and handcuffed, beaten and abused. According to his account, the most terrifying moments came when he would overhear his Muslim kidnappers debating whether to behead the Christian doctor or keep him alive to ensure a ransom. The police, though given many opportunities, never made any effort to rescue him, said the Copt.

Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Proselytism

Uganda: Muslims once again tried to kill a Muslim convert to Christianity. Last year, Hassan Muwanguzi, a former Muslim Sheikh, now born-again Christian, survived a poisoning attempt by Muslim relatives, but, in a separate attack, lost his twelve-year old daughter. Recently, Muslims broke into his house with knives and clubs in another attempt to assassinate him. Muwanguzi was at a prayer meeting at the time, but the assailants stole thousands of dollars’ worth of his possessions. Despite Uganda being a majority-Christian nation, Muwanguzi lives in a majority-Muslim region, and faces regular death threats (read more here).

Pakistan: Muslims again used the “blasphemy” accusation to persecute Christian minorities:

  • Two Christian women and the husband of one of the women in the Punjab were tortured by Muslim villagers. Afterwards, they painted the women’s and man’s faces black, put shoes around their necks as “garlands”—shoes are considered ultra-degrading symbols in Pakistan—and paraded them around the town on donkeys, while the Muslim mob continued to taunt and beat them. The two women, identified as Rukhsana and Rehana, were accused of committing blasphemy after they got into an argument with a Muslim woman who wanted to buy a carpet for a low price, which the Christians refused. The Muslim woman then accused the Christians of committing blasphemy; she said that the carpet had images of Holy Books and Koran verses on it. The remark prompted the mob to drag the Christians out of their homes and beat them.
  • Another Christian couple was nearly lynched by a Muslim mob after they were accused of “blasphemy.” The illiterate couple were using a banner that also allegedly carried scriptures from the Koran. After a local barber and two clerics denounced the couple, they were beaten and about to be hanged when police intervened. A few months earlier, another couple was thrown into an oven and burned to death when they too were accused of blasphemy.
  • Two Christian brothers, Qaisar and Amoon Ayub of Lahore, were arrested on blasphemy charges after one of them was accused of posting on his website material supposedly offensive to Islam. According to Qaisar, he closed his account in 2009 but one of his Muslim colleagues, Shahryar Gill, somehow managed to restore the website, while ownership remained in Qaisar’s name. Apparently in revenge for some office quarrel, the Muslim framed the Christian, reported the “blasphemy” to the authorities; the two brothers fled Pakistan. Years later, thinking things had cooled down, they tried to return to their wives and children, only to be arrested.

Sudan: Two imprisoned Presbyterian pastors are on trial and facing a possible death sentence. Rev. Yat Michael and the Rev. Peter Yen Reith of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church are being charged with espionage and blasphemy under the Republic of Sudan’s Islamic laws. Other church leaders say that Christians are often targeted for their faith, and that the government’s accusations are pretexts: “This is not ‘something new’ for our church. Almost all pastors have gone to jail under the government of Sudan. We have been stoned and beaten. This is their habit to pull down the church. We are not surprised. This is the way they deal with the church,” said Rev. Tut Kony.

Egypt: Three young Christians were arrested in Alexandria on charges of “contempt for Islam.” The previous evening, the Christians had been seen handing out bags of dates to Ramadan fasting Muslims. Some Muslims reported them to authorities; they said that the pamphlets contained “the teachings of Christ” were found in the bags of dates. They were all arrested and charged with contempt for Islam. The three Christian youth pled that the pamphlets were for their own personal use and not meant to be placed in the bags of dates. They were ordered to pay 10,000 Egyptian pounds and released.

“Dhimmitude”: Islamic Contempt, Hostility, and Abuse of Christians

Pakistan: Christian girls continued to be abducted and raped in the Muslim majority nation. A new report indicates that every year 1,000 non-Muslim girls are abducted, raped, forced to convert to Islam or “marry” their abductors. Cases reported in July include:

  • Tarfa Younis, a 12-year- old Christian orphan girl, was sold to a 55-year-old Muslim man who “repeatedly raped” her for over a year; the man’s nephew also abused her. The traumatized girl managed to run away and reach the home of an uncle. According to The Voice, a human rights organization involved in the case, “the practice of raping and forcing Christian girls into marriage continues in Punjab, especially in suburban areas.”
  • Fouzia, a 25-year-old married Christian woman and mother of three children, was abducted on July 23 by Muhammad Nazir, another 55-year-old Muslim man. He forced her to convert to Islam and become his wife. Her family asked Muhammad for her return, but he insisted that she had voluntarily converted and married him—and that if they made any trouble “there would be serious consequences.” According to human rights lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill: “Usually episodes like this proceed in the following manner: the family of the victim presents a complaint. The abductor lodges a counter-complaint affirming that the woman made a voluntary decision. In most instances, the victims are minors, young adolescent girls. They suffer sexual violence, forced prostitution, domestic abuse and even sold to human traffickers.” Gill concluded that it is rare for such cases to end with the return of the girls to their original families.

Indonesia: A group of Muslims attacked and disrupted a Christian scout camp that had brought together thousands of young people. The camp had been organized by a Protestant group in Yogyakarta, central Java. The Muslim assailants argued that the Christian group was not authorized to organize any public activity—especially as it was Ramadan and public activities that violate the Islamic nature of the month are forbidden. On the second day of the event, local Muslims stormed the site and brought everything to a halt. As a result of the raid, thousands of Christian participants from around the country were forced to leave the area. According to the Christian camp manager, “organizers said they had official permission [to hold the event], but suddenly scores of radical Muslims arrived ordering everyone to clear off.” Commenting on the expulsion of Christians, Muhammad Fuad, head of the local branch of the Islamic Community Forum, expressed satisfaction that the Christian event was shut down: “It is good because everyone should understand how to behave towards the Muslim community.”

Iraq: The Islamic State issued a call to its members at the University of Mosul to burn all books written by Christians—whether researchers, writers, or academics—that are found in the Central Library at the University of Mosul.

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

ABOUT RAYMOND IBRAHIM

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians. Follow Raymond Ibrahim on Twitter and Facebook.

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