Christians in the Cross-fire in Iraq
By Tony Perkins
What was once the cradle of Christianity may be the death of it for believers in the Middle East. Driven out by fear (or worse), Iraqi’s Christians are vanishing by the thousands, as ISIS hunts down non-Sunni Muslims, and especially Christians, like an insatiable predator. Undeterred by the world’s sporadic airstrikes, the radical group is rattling Baghdad’s gates — mere miles from entering the city that so many American soldiers died defending.
Less than 10 kilometers may be all that stands in the way of Baghdad and the extremists who killed as many as 1,000 Iraqi troops in the last handful of days. “Things are so bad,” Canon Andrew White posted on Facebook. “All the military air strikes are doing nothing. If ever we needed your prayer, it is now.” The Iraqi priest is one of a number of Christians left in the warzone, whose only hope is local soldiers who say they would “take off (their) uniforms” if ISIS attacked Baghdad.
“Christianity in Iraq is finished,” say reporters like Daniel Williams, who spent 10 days with the suffering in hiding. “It is not simply that these Christians have gone through tremendous trauma. It is not only because they lost everything, including their homes and businesses, and in some cases spent days and even weeks in detention while being badgered to convert to Islam, where they saw babies taken from mothers’ arms to be held for ransom and busloads of young people ferried off into the unknown… No, it is because, for Christians in Iraq, the past three months have been the climax of 11 years of hell,” Williams wrote.
Plagued and persecuted in ways no one has experienced since Jesus’s time, Christians are not just being targeted — they’re being massacred. Those still in the country don’t have a way out. They’re sitting ducks for the savage Islamists intent on wiping them — literally — off the map. Yet so far, White’s pleas have gone relatively unnoticed by the Obama administration. President Obama was just at the U.N. Security Council meeting — yet made no mention of the Iraqis at the tip of the spear.
The situation is so dire, White explains, that there are hardly any Christians in Iraq who haven’t had a family member killed by ISIS. Yet the same President who hasn’t called Pastor Saeed Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, in two years of his wrongful Iranian imprisonment has made no move to defend Christians here either.
Although it would take a substantial effort and ground commitment to carve a way out of the country for the cornered Christians, it is entirely possible — with the world’s help — to shepherd ISIS’s prey out of harm’s way. The U.S. could establish a corridor to move them into Kuwait, or press the U.N. to create an international convoy to safety. It’s not a question of is there a way to get the Christians out, it’s a question of is there a will to get them out.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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