- Obama admin to blame for HealthCare.gov woes, $840M cost: GAO
- Al Gore’s climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Army’s 3-D printed bombs will create ‘a whole new universe’ of deadly capabilities
- Hamas calls on Hezbollah to join in fight against Israel
- Senators to FIFA, others: Don’t reward Putin with the World Cup in 2018
- U.S. condemns Israeli shelling of shelter in Gaza
- Obamacare shoots premiums up by 88 percent in California
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- Obama to Republicans: ‘Stop just hatin’ all the time’
- U.S. chemical sites vulnerable despite millions spent on security: Congress
Iraq’s perils dire for minority faiths
Question of the Day
Iraq’s outnumbered Christians and other religious minority groups are targets of a terror campaign and are facing a dire situation where killings and rapes have become the norm, a panel of witnesses testified yesterday on Capitol Hill.
In a hearing convened by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, and four other panelists unfolded tales of horrors overtaking Christians, Yezidis (angel worshippers) and Mandaeans, members of a pacifist faith that follows the teachings of John the Baptist.
“The situation is more than desperate,” said Mr. White, who described how Christians in Baghdad have been told to convert to Islam or be killed. Hundreds of those who could not afford to flee the country are living in churches without adequate food or water, he said.
“In the past month, 36 members of my own congregation have been kidnapped,” he said. “To date, only one has been returned.”
Iraq’s eight remaining Jews, now hiding in Baghdad, are “the oldest Jewish community in the world,” he said, referring to the 597 B.C. Babylonian conquest of ancient Judah that brought the Jews to the region as captives.
“The international community has done nothing to help these people,” Mr. White said, explaining that the group is trying to emigrate to an Iraqi Jewish enclave in the Netherlands, which won’t admit them.
Michael Youash, director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, called the situation “soft ethnic cleansing.” The “de-Christianization of Iraq” is not far off, he predicted, saying that Washington has refused to help Iraqi Christians, whose common faith with many Americans has made them loathed by Muslim radicals.
“The State Department just dismisses this as part of an overall conflict,” he said. “But Christians are being disproportionately targeted. The attacks are purely vindictive and vicious. They are meant to give a message.”
Religious minorities have no militias to protect them, Mr. Youash said. “If someone attacks a Shi’ite, there are consequences. If someone attacks a Yezidi or a Mandaean, there are none.”
Pascale Warda, president of the Iraqi Women’s Center in Baghdad, said more than 30 churches have been destroyed; priests have been fatally shot, kidnapped and beheaded; a 14-year-old boy was crucified in Basra; and Baghdad’s once-famous Christian neighborhoods have been emptied of thousands of residents.
“That’s because of fatwas issued by Islamic fundamentalists who give them three choices,” she said. “Convert to Islam, pay the jizya [a tax imposed on non-Muslims] or leave with no personal possessions.”
Suhaib Nashi, general secretary of the Mandaean Associations Union, said that in the past week alone, several Mandaean families in Baghdad were given one hour to leave their homes or be killed.
On Feb. 26, Rena Al-Zuhairy, a 20-year-old Mandaean student, went to school merely to pick up her college degree. “The last voice her mother heard was her crying over the cell phone to save her,” Mr. Nashi said. “The police force is corrupt, often helps attackers and has little to no role in protecting minorities.”
Several panelists criticized Kurdish militias in northern Iraq for joining the persecution.
“Christians flee one dictatorship only to arrive to another dictatorship,” Mr. Youash said. During the January 2005 elections, Kurdish soldiers stole many ballot boxes from areas populated by Christians and Yezidis, he added, but the U.S. government did not respond.
- Geraldo Rivera: Matt Drudge 'doing his best to stir up a civil war'
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- Lois Lerner hated conservatives, new emails show
- HURT: Impeaching Obama is a losing strategy for the GOP
- MSNBC's Ronan Farrow questions lack of racial diversity in emoji characters
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world