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ISIL Islamist Terrorists Committing Christian Genocide - As the World Watches
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The world, and much less the United Nations, cannot stand by with obvious complacency and apathy towards our plight and allow this destruction of these peoples in Iraq. Mere statements of condemnation by the UN, and even of the major countries of the West, are not sufficient! These statements, though taken with gratitude, are not enough to bring an end to these atrocities and to stop this genocide of a religious nature!- Mar Dinkha IV, The Patriarch of Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) - The terrorists who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) have beheaded hundreds of innocent people, crucified former Muslims who freely chose to follow Jesus Christ, destroyed dozens of Christian churches, burned sacred manuscripts and sacred art, and sent hundreds of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing for their lives in a reign of bloodshed and terror.
The deluded madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim, issued an ultimatum last month. Christians in that part of the former territory of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon which he has declared to be an Islamic Caliphate were to convert to Islam, face the sword, flee the country or have their property seized and pay the tax levied against dhimmis.
This despicable ultimatum was broadcast from loudspeakers and placed on the internet. It has now been heard around the whole world: "We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword."
Christian tradition traces the planting of the Christian Church and the Gospel in this land now called a Caliphate to the missionary efforts of the Apostle Thomas. Christians have an undeniable claim to live freely on this land - and the RIGHT to practice their faith. Their claim precedes the very arrival of Islam. They have fundamental human rights which are being ruthlessly denied by a barbaric terrorist movement whose poisonous ideology is spreading and threatening the world.
Christian homes were marked for seizure and destruction by these Jiadists terrorists. They took an axe to the ancient tomb of Jonah and destroyed it with mad abandon. They ripped down the Sacred Cross from St. Ephrem's Cathedral and replaced it with their dreaded black flag.
They are routinely cutting off heads and sticking them on poles while they shout their slogans, purporting to honor God while they unleash a reign of evil. They engage in the worst human rights abuses - and, until this week - there has only been minimal news coverage and a muted global outcry.
There is a genocide of Christians underway in this new Caliphate which has occupied territory which was once a part of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. These mad terrorists have amassed massive stockpiles of both weapons and cash. They may soon blow up a crucial dam - and the consequences will be dire. We face a serious global crisis. The question is - what will be the response of the rest of the world?
Christians are not alone in facing the evil wrath of these bloodthirsty terrorists. Their blood is now mingled with other religious minorities such as the Yezidis, ShabaIts, and Kurds. Over 40,000 Yehzidi men, women and children are trapped in the mountains. They have no way to escape a sure and certain mass execution without intervention from the international community.
His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, The Patriarch of Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, sent the following letter to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations:
The grave situation which our Christian communities in Iraq are suffering constrains me to write to Your Excellency as the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization. I join my fellow patriarchs and hierarchs of Christian Churches of Iraq, and in the Middle East at large, in voicing our serious concern for the peril of our people and faithful. This plea cannot go unheard by the United Nations!
The plight of the ancient Christian communities in Mosul, Iraq, and its environs is a situation by now well known to Your Excellency and to all of the member-states of the United Nations. At the outset, let me thank you for the letter of July 20, 2014 issued by the Secretary General's office and the follow-up letter issued by the Presidency of the Security Council on July 21, 2014, both of which condemn in categorical and unequivocal terms the atrocities committed against the Christians of Iraq by the militant, fundamentalist and terrorist Islamist group known as 'ISIS' (now, 'IS'). The destruction and havoc which has been reeked by this lawless group upon the Christians, and now other religious minority groups in the country, has been documented and made known to the world.
The plight of our ancient Christian communities in Iraq, particularly the Assyrians and the Chaldean, Syriac and Armenian communities, has caused the forced displacement of thousands of persons. Women, children and the elderly have left their homes and continually on the move-from city to city, and from village to village-seeking safety for their lives.
We are informed by our prelates in Iraq that as the present situation and conditions continue to go from bad to worse; people are living in great fear and confusion, without any hope for a brighter and better future. Christianity has been present in the ancient city of Mosul, known formerly as 'Nineveh,' the capital of the ancient Assyrian Empire, since the preaching of the very Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ in the first half of the first Christ century.
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Today, not a Christian is present, and what's more, the ancient churches and relics of our faith have been destroyed before the very eyes of the major countries of the modem civilized West-indeed, before the eyes of the world! This is a great travesty not only against the Christian faith and its adherents, but against the ancient patrimony of civilization of which the city of Mosul (Nineveh) has been a living witness until very recent.
Your Excellency: the United Nations as an international body is well aware of the anti-human and criminal acts perpetrated by the this terrorist group known as 'ISIS' against the Christians of Iraq, and now other against other religious minorities such as the Yezidis, ShabaIts, Kurds as well as the Shia and non-compliant Sunni citizens of Iraq.
The world, and much less the United Nations, cannot stand by with obvious complacency and apathy towards our plight and allow this destruction of these peoples in Iraq. Mere statements of condemnation by the UN, and even of the major countries of the West, are not sufficient! These statements, though taken with gratitude, are not enough to bring an end to these atrocities and to stop this genocide of a religious nature!
Therefore, Your Excellency, on behalf of the thousands of displaced Christians of Iraq--the children, women and elderly--and on behalf of those who have already paid with their lives and the blood of their necks for their faith: I implore the United Nations to take concrete and statutory action in a plenary session of the member-states of the United Nations against the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity.
I implore the Security Council to take a positive vote in favor of these persecuted Christians who are suffering a new and modem genocide. The lives of this persecuted and oppressed people depend upon the moral decisions of the United Nations in favor of protecting human life and the right of each and every person to worship God and follow his/her conscience.
Time is of the essence, Your Excellency! The United Nations must act quickly to halt and remedy this dire and bloody situation for the Christians in Iraq. If no concrete action is taken very soon, then I must say that the United Nations and its member-states will have failed in fulfilling their mandate of preserving life and peace in the world.
This would be a grave and inexcusable moral violation, which we all pray and hope is avoided. I am ready to afford my Church's support in meeting and/or being a part of Your Excellency's solution to this crisis. I shall keep Your Excellency in my prayers, as you fulfill your important mandate of moderating the United Nations. May Almighty God grant His enduring peace throughout the world and among all peoples.
Here is the latest of several clear and passionate statements from the Vatican.
Statement of Fr Federico Lombardi SJ regarding the situation of Christians in Iraq
The Holy Father is following with deep concern the dramatic news reports coming from northern Iraq, which involve defenseless populations. Christian communities are particularly affected: a people fleeing from their villages because of the violence that rages in these days, wreaking havoc on the entire region.
At the Angelus prayer on July 20th, Pope Francis cried with pain: "[O]ur brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are pushed out, forced to leave their homes without the opportunity to take anything with them. To these families and to these people I would like to express my closeness and my steadfast prayer. Dearest brothers and sisters so persecuted, I know how much you suffer, I know that you are deprived of everything. I am with you in your faith in Him who conquered evil!"
In light of these terrible developments, the Holy Father renews his spiritual closeness to all those who are suffering through this painful trial, and makes the impassioned appeals of the local bishops his own, asking together with them in behalf of their sorely tried communities, that the whole Church and all the faithful raise up with one voice a ceaseless prayer, imploring the Holy Spirit to send the gift of peace.
His Holiness urgently calls on the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by the violence, and to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others.
The Pope also appeals to the conscience of all people, and to each and every believer he repeats: "May the God of peace create in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is not conquered with violence. Violence is conquered with peace! Let us pray in silence, asking for peace; everyone, in silence.... Mary Queen of peace, pray for us! (Angelus, July 20, 2014)"
We cannot - we must not - sit idly by while a genocide against Christians and other religious minorities is underway in Iraq,Syria and Lebanon. We must pray for our Christian brethren who are shedding their blood for the faith. We must pray for all who suffer under the evil which is being inflicted by these Islamist terrorists. We must pray for the US Administration and all other civil governments who claim to value fundamental human rights to rise to this moment. We must also act to stop this looming genocide.
Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.
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