One year has passed since the U.S. State Department declared ISIS was committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and others in the Middle East and nothing has been done to stop it.
And it now looks like president Trump may be backing off a bit from his earlier promise to give those fleeing genocide--Syrian and Iraqi Christians--a priority in his new executive order on immigration.
His legal advisers apparently feel that favoring one religious group over others may be unconstitutional, and one reason why his initial immigration order was rejected by two federal courts.
The intent of the U.N. 1948 Convention on Genocide is “to prevent and punish.” While it does not require nations to take action, it says genocide and conspiracy, incitement, complicity, and attempts to commit genocide SHALL be punishable.
While a course of action may not be required, Christians and other Middle East minorities expect the United States and other governments to do something to protect them.
What is genocide, and what is expected of us?
Take a look:
The number of Christians in Iraq has dropped alarmingly over the past 20-years from about 1.5-million to no more than about 250,000.
I’ve talked to Iraqi and Syria Christian leaders who have told me if ISIS and other militant Islamic groups go unchecked, Christians will disappear from their countries in the years ahead; either they’ll be murdered by extremists, or they’ll emigrate out of fear for their safety.
And it’s not just in Syria and Iraq.
Also of concern is Egypt, the Middle East country with the largest Christian population.
Coptic Orthodox Christians face ongoing attacks. Just this week, 100 Christian families were forced to flee the Sinai because of threats from the Islamic State. The exodus came after ISIS released a video vowing to increase attacks against Christians.
President Trump wants to create safe zones in Syria and Iraq to protect the Christians. While he says Saudi Arabia and the UAE could help pay for the effort, many details still need to be worked out.
Where would the safe zones be located—which specific areas of those countries? Iraq and Syria are sovereign nations. What if they do not want the Christian areas created?
Also, many Middle East Christians have told me they oppose designated Christian areas or safe zones because they have lived together with Muslims for many generations and have gotten along well—only a few bad apples have persecuted them. “If we are segregated, who will be salt and light to them?” they ask.
Other Christians and Yazidis have told me they cannot return to villages and live side-by-side with Muslim neighbors who joined ISIS in attacking them.
Perhaps the president’s new EO is not the best way to mandate support and priority for these suffering Christians.
But the time for talk is over. Now with the Trump administration dropping the special language for religious minorities, it looks like it is up to YOU to press for more help.
How many Christians will die as they wait for our leaders to act?