Islamist extremists are waging a religious persecution so severe that, as Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill stated in their historic joint statement last week, “whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated.” Nowhere does this obtain more than in Iraq and Syria, where Christian communities, a groundswell of prominent voices is now acknowledging, face genocide. On February 4, the European Parliament, with near-unanimity and solid socialist support, passed a resolution declaring that ISIS “is committing genocide against Christians and Yazidis” and “other religious and ethnic minorities.”
Despite a foreign-policy mandate to speak out against religious persecution, the United States government has so far been silent on whether this epic religious cleansing of Christians,Yazidis, and other minorities from the heart of the Middle East ranks among the gravest of crimes.
With pressure mounting, the State Department in October leaked word that an official genocide designation would be forthcoming but made clear that State would recognize only a Yazidi genocide and not one against Christians. This prompted Congress to mandate that Secretary John Kerry make a determination by March 16 on the precise question of whether “persecution . . . of Christians and people of other religions in the Middle East by violent Islamic extremists . . . constitutes genocide.”
While other administrations have committed the sin of silence where genocide was concerned, none has officially signaled that it believes a brutally persecuted and displaced minority is not suffering ongoing genocide. Yet that would be the effect of excluding the Christians from an official listing of genocide victims. Despite foreseeable harm this would cause these Christians, the administration appears on track to do just that.
Unnamed administration officials are proffering various arguments to justify omitting the Christians. All are flimsy, as seen below, and point to political motives.
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