The U.S. Must Aid Persecuted Christians

Taking stock of the horrific persecution of Middle Eastern Christians, Tina Rodriguez calls on their American coreligionists to encourage the U.S. government to defend them:

[The U.S.] must recognize that religious freedom is a critical linchpin for every other human right and for peace and security globally. When that freedom suffers, so too does the stability of a country. As the situations in Iraq and Syria have shown, when religious oppression runs rampant, it leads to military conflict and humanitarian crisis. It also destabilizes countries, and there terrorist networks find safe havens from which they can launch attacks on America. Religious freedom is a national-security imperative. . . .

We cannot ignore abuses of this freedom in countries considered allies. When we do, Americans suffer and conflicts escalate. . . . In Iraq, the U.S. continues to aid in the defeat of Islamic State while saying nothing about the need for legal changes that would ensure the long-term viability of communities facing sectarian conflict and genocide. We should invest in programs that bolster local leadership and respect for religious freedom to help mitigate potential conflict. . . .

[T]here should be high-level involvement to ensure that foreign-service officers are receiving the training required by law in religious freedom. . . . When Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman, was imprisoned in Sudan and sentenced to death for apostasy, U.S.-embassy officials were woefully absent in aiding her. Her husband was an American citizen, and she was shackled to a prison floor with her eighteen-month-old son while her baby girl was born. Still, the officials did nothing. The time for doing nothing is over.

Read more at National Review

More about: Freedom of Religion, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, Sudan, U.S. Foreign policy

To Defeat the Legacy of Islamic State, Start Rebuilding the Communities It Destroyed

Now that the borders of Islamic State (IS) are slowly contracting, argues Alberto Fernandez, there is a moral and strategic imperative to reconstruct some of the non-Muslim communities that it has destroyed—and the U.S. should encourage local government to help:

Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate is crumbling, if all too slowly. Sadly, though, its ultimate collapse will not be the end of the story. It will leave behind a still-lethal insurgency that will almost certainly attempt to stage terrorist attacks around the world as well as a wide swath of physical destruction and devastated lives stretching from Aleppo to Ramadi.

And yet, even while the Islamic State is “losing,” there is no denying that it has also “won” some things. It has created grim facts on the ground. It has wiped out communities that will never rise again. Many Yazidi villages and towns within its orbit are destined to remain permanently empty because of slaughter and the flight of despairing survivors. IS jihadists also succeeded in destroying the ancient Christian community of Mosul, whose surviving members were robbed of everything they had when they were expelled from the city in July 2014. Many of the survivors of these same minority groups remain scattered around the region, and some still haven’t decided whether they should stay, with all the risks that it would entail, or leave forever. Islamic State has torn a hole in the fabric of the region’s millennia-old diversity that can never be fully repaired. . . .

But we should consider fresh ways for Muslim leaders to show concrete support for restoring what IS sought to exterminate. Even the resurrection of a single community would be a powerful message of solidarity and diversity in a Middle East that is becoming increasingly monochrome. . . .

In . . . Israel, one kibbutz incorporated and commemorated survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and other Jewish partisans. Imagine the resurrection of a non-Muslim community that the Islamic State sought to exterminate. What a powerful message that would send. And the message would resonate even more strongly if the work were to be done with the support of Muslim states.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: ISIS, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Yazidis