ICC Note: With the militant group, ISIS, threatening stability in Iraq and Syria, many Christians in the region are feeling abandoned by Western countries. Syrian Patriarch Ignance Joseph III Younan publicly stated that these Christians feel betrayed by the lack of support and awareness from westernized governments. As ISIS continues to cause instability and violence in the region, the international community must begin to think of long and short term solutions to the rising concerns.
06/19/14 Syria (Catholic Sentinel) – Syrian Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan said Christians in the Middle East feel “abandoned, even betrayed” by the West as a militant Islamic force occupied large areas of Syria and Iraq.
Christians “are facing the biggest challenge for their survival on the lands of their forefathers in Iraq and Syria,” the patriarch told Catholic News Service June 18 by email from the patriarchate in Beirut.
“We are very anxious, even devastated, because of the horrendous news that keeps coming to us from Mosul (Iraq) and surrounding areas,” Patriarch Younan wrote.
His comments came as the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant gained control of large areas of Syria and Iraq in a violent push through both countries in June.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant includes thousands of fighters and has readily killed Muslims and Christians while functioning with military efficiency.
Earlier, Archbishop Jean Sleiman, the Latin-rite bishop of Baghdad, urged the international community not to intervene in the struggle against the militants, insisting that the priority is for Iraqi leaders to “work together” to overcome the crisis.
In an interview from Baghdad with the charitable organization Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Sleiman stressed that political consensus within Iraq would be critical in overcoming the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Archbishop Sleiman described how many people were trying to leave the Iraqi capital, fearing an attack from the militant forces as reports that armed fighters were pressing south. He said many roads out of the capital were blocked and departures from Baghdad’s airport were fully booked until the end of June.
“In responding to this crisis, the international community should think of the common good, not their own interests. They should think of peace,” he said.