ICC Note: Church leaders – both from the region and around the world – have raised their voices to push for the U.S. Government and others to officially recognize what is happening in the Middle East as genocide. This would initiate legal steps that would provide for recourse and refuge for these communities.
12/09/2015 Middle East (Politico) – Christian leaders are pressing the Obama administration to declare that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians, a designation that could increase pressure on the president to take action to protect victims of the terrorist group.
The State Department has spent months debating whether to label the Islamic State’s murderous rampage against members of a different religious minority, the Yazidis, a “genocide,” a designation that carries legal, political and historical implications and which the U.S. has rarely invoked. But now, with a decision expected soon, the administration faces growing pressure to include Iraqi and Syrian Christians under that same heavy label.
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a 2016 presidential candidate, has raised the plight of the Christians on the campaign trail, saying they are facing a genocide at the hands of the Islamic State and should get preference in being admitted to the United States.
Around 30 Christian and other leaders, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry last week to request a meeting to make the case that Christians in territory controlled by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, face genocide. One signatory, Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, testified on the issue Wednesday before a House panel.
The letter writers said they agree wholeheartedly that the Yazidis, who have faced everything from death to enslavement at the hands of the Islamic State, are victims of genocide. Their argument, however, is that the suffering of Christians rises to the same level, surpassing other labels the U.S. has tended to use such as “ethnic cleansing” or “crimes against humanity.”