Slay­ing Chris­tians ‘re­li­gious geno­cide,’ law­mak­ers say

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY CH­ERYL WETZSTEIN

The mass tor­ture, mur­der and dis­place­ment of Chris­tian fam­i­lies and other re­li­gious mi­nori­ties in the Mid­dle East must be called by its real name — geno­cide — mem­bers of Congress said at a gath­er­ing of a non­par­ti­san or­ga­ni­za­tion that ad­vo­cates against re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion.

“We can’t sit idly by ... we have to com­mit to ac­tion,” Rep. Daniel Lip­in­ski, Illi­nois Demo­crat, said at a meet­ing of sup­port­ers of In De­fense of Chris­tians on Capi­tol Hill.

“The an­swer to re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion should not be, ‘Oh, go some­where else,’” said Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Repub­li­can.

IDC, formed in 2014, pro­motes preser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion of Chris­tians in their his­tor­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties in coun­tries such as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Le­banon, Syria and Tur­key, as well as in the Holy Land ar­eas of Is­rael, Jor­dan and the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries.

While Chris­tians are IDC’s named fo­cus, the non­profit also ad­vo­cates for hu­man and con­science rights of other eth­nic and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties.

On Thurs­day, Reps. Jeff Forten­berry, Ne­braska Repub­li­can, and Anna Eshoo, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, in­tro­duced a res­o­lu­tion ex­press­ing the sense of Congress that those who com­mit atroc­i­ties against Chris­tians and other re­li­gious mi­nori­ties are com­mit­ting “war crimes,” “crimes against hu­man­ity” and “geno­cide.”

The res­o­lu­tion calls on sign­ers of the United Na­tions’ Con­ven­tion on the Preven­tion and Pun­ish­ment of the Crime of Geno­cide, signed in 1948, to be “re­minded of their le­gal obli­ga­tions” un­der the agree­ment.

It also says those who have forced the mi­gra­tion of re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties from their an­ces­tral home­lands — es­pe­cially the Nin­eveh Plain, the his­toric home of Yazidis — be “tracked, sanc­tioned, ar­rested, pros­e­cuted and pun­ished.”

“The old­est of the Chris­tian com­mu­ni­ties are be­ing wiped out,” as well as peo­ple of other re­li­gious back­grounds, Ms. Eshoo told the IDC event. “We re­ally are called to do this ... and I think fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and his­to­ri­ans will not judge us well if we don’t an­swer this call,” she said.

This kind of res­o­lu­tion will be sub­mit­ted to par­lia­ments world­wide, said Robert De­stro, a law pro­fes­sor at Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica and IDC board mem­ber.

Also, when Pope Fran­cis vis­its Washington, D.C., in two weeks, there will be an ef­fort to have him and House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Repub­li­can, speak pri­vately about the re­li­gious geno­cide is­sue, said Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, South Carolina Repub­li­can.

Mr. Mul­vaney told the IDC meet­ing that he had heard about hor­ri­ble, “con­vert-or­die” ac­tions of Is­lamic ter­ror­ists.

Is­lamic State fight­ers go “door to door to col­lect the tax” that os­ten­si­bly al­lows Chris­tians and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties to live peace­fully in Is­lam-ma­jor­ity com­mu­ni­ties, said Mr. Mul­vaney. But when a fa­ther says he will pay the tax, he is told it an enor­mous sum, such as $100,000, which he can­not pay.

He is then told, “in lieu of that, we will ac­cept your daugh­ter. Do you want to pay the tax now? Or do you want to con­vert?”

When the fa­ther re­fuses to do any of those things, the mil­i­tants shoot his child in front of him — and go through the same process with other chil­dren and the wife, and then the fa­ther, said Mr. Mul­vaney. “And then they go on the next house. It is re­li­gious geno­cide.”

Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can, called for an end to anti-blas­phemy laws, as they give rise to all kinds of abuses.

Among other rec­om­men­da­tions were to end to U.S. fi­nan­cial aid to coun­tries that abuse or per­mit abuse of Chris­tian and other re­li­gious mi­nori­ties; to step up hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to refugees and mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties; and to change pro­cesses to per­mit refugees into the United States.

Oth­ers called for the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to nom­i­nate a can­di­date for a new po­si­tion cre­ated by Congress — a spe­cial en­voy for re­li­gious mi­nori­ties in the Mid­dle East and South Cen­tral Asia.

Am­bas­sador Bayan Sami Ab­dul Rah­man of Kur­dis­tan told the IDC group that said her na­tion of 5 mil­lion is al­ready swamped with 2 mil­lion refugees — with more com­ing.

These peo­ple are suf­fer­ing geno­cide un­der in­ter­na­tional law — and this needs to be prop­erly pub­li­cized, she said. Kur­dish mil­i­tary are fight­ing against the Is­lamic State ev­ery day, she added, but we “can­not do this alone.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, South Carolina Repub­li­can, is part of a bi­par­ti­san group in Congress push­ing la­bel the killing of Chris­tians “re­li­gious geno­cide.”

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