Editorial: Why are Christian organisations campaigning against helping Christians flee the Middle East genocide?
Barnabas Fund Editorial:
In the USA a terrible tragedy is happening. A nation that was founded by Christians fleeing religious persecution is tearing itself apart over its new president ordering the US refugee system to prioritise religious minorities fleeing persecution. Yet perhaps the greatest tragedy faces Christian refugees fleeing genocide in the Middle East. They now face the painful discovery that many they might have assumed would support them in their hour of need – their fellow Christians – are in fact those most vehemently opposed to this policy. Can you imagine how they feel?
It was in 2004, a year after US-led coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussain, that systematic attacks on Iraqi churches and Christians began, including abductions and murder of senior clergy. In 2007 two lawyers experienced in genocide investigations argued in an academic paper that what was by then happening to Christians in Iraq constituted “genocide”. The start of the Syrian civil war in 2011 not only allowed Islamic State of Iraq to spread to Syria, but also created a multiplicity of jihadi groups, many funded by the Saudis, which aimed to establish a radical Islamic state. Some of these groups have specifically threatened or targeted Christians. Yet these are the “rebels” the previous US government was seeking to engage with. Let us be clear, it is not just IS that has been targeting Christians and other minorities such as the Yazidis, it is other “rebel” groups as well.
It is indisputable that Christians in Iraq and Syria have been facing crimes against humanity. That is why since 2003 at least half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country. In Syria it is thought more than a quarter of the Christians have fled since 2011.