U.S. Bishops Call for Protection of Iraq’s Christians

I hope she heeds. From AINA, with thanks to DFS:

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Policy has asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to consider measures that would help improve the deteriorating situation for Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.

[…]

The complete text of Bishop Wenski’s letter follows.

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C. Street, N.W.
Room 7327
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madame Secretary:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I am writing to you to express our deep concern and growing alarm at the rapidly deteriorating situation of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.

We deplore the sectarian violence engulfing the Shia and Sunni communities in Iraq. We are especially and acutely aware of the deliberate violence perpetrated against Christians and other vulnerable minorities. Christians continue to decline from a pre-war population of over 1.2 million to a current estimate of about 600,000. The growing and deliberate targeting of Christians is an ominous sign of the breakdown in Iraqi society of civil order and inter-religious respect and represents a grave violation of human rights and religious liberty.

The recent beheading of a Syriac Orthodox priest in Mosul, the crucifixion of a Christian teenager in Albasra, the frequent kidnappings for ransom of Christians including four priests–one of whom was the secretary of Patriarch Delly, the rape of Christian women and teenage girls, and the bombings of churches are all indicators that the situation has reached a crisis point. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that approximately 44% of Iraqi refugees are Christian, even though they represent only about 4% of the total population of Iraq.

While thousands have fled to Syria, Jordan and Turkey, the remainder in Iraq are increasingly leading lives of desperation. Many no longer feel safe gathering in churches and Christian institutions, resulting in the closing of parishes, seminaries and convents. Others are fleeing to the north of Iraq in search of some measure of safety and sanctuary.

The vulnerability of Christians and other religious minorities is dramatic evidence of the serious and growing security challenges facing the entire nation of Iraq. Efforts must continue to end all sectarian violence and to make Iraq secure for everyone. At the same time, we also urge you to take several specific measures to improve the particular security situation of Christians and other minorities in Iraq. First, we hope that the U.S. government will consider the creation of a new “Administrative Region” in the Nineveh Plain Area that would be directly related to the central government in Baghdad. This could provide Christians and other minorities with greater safety and offer more opportunity to control their own affairs with assistance from the central government. Since the Kurds are key to any real efforts to stabilize Iraq and many Christians and other minorities are fleeing to the north of Iraq, we ask that the U.S. government work with Kurdish authorities to ensure the safety of Christians in the Plain of Nineveh and to provide adequate protection and assistance for religious minorities in areas controlled directly by the Kurds.

We also believe that an urgent review of economic reconstruction aid programs is needed to make sure that the aid is distributed fairly so that all elements of Iraqi society are able to rebuild their communities. Finally, we urge the U.S. government to adopt a more generous refugee and asylum policy, including the possible resettlement of at-risk cases to the United States, and to work with the governments of Turkey, Jordan and Syria to grant visas to allow Iraqi Christians and others compelled to leave Iraq access to economic, health and other necessary assistance and help until they are able to stabilize their own situation, return to Iraq or make other plans for their future.

Thank you for your attention to this important concern. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss this urgent and dangerous situation further.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski
Bishop of Orlando
Chairman, Committee on International Policy

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Comments

  1. says

    I think I will email the USCCB to see what they have to say about the removal (persecution) of the Christian organizations from (at)Georgetown University….suspiciously after having received the $20 million dollar donation to the Center for Muslim-Christian understanding from the Saudi prince.

  2. says

    Also perhaps the bishops would care to address the continued kidnapping and forced conversions of Christians girls in Egypt and the case of Abdul Rahman(spelling ?) the convert to Christianity in Afghanistan who was allowed to emigrate to Italy. We are certainly wasting our tax dollars in those Islamic paradises as well and I would rather see the money given to the persecuted Christians enabling them to resettle here in the US.

  3. says

    Let the persecuted Christians come here.

    Let the Muslims live in Islamic “peace and harmony” with each other.

    The US will be much better off.

  4. says

    “First, we hope that the U.S. government will consider the creation of a new “Administrative Region” in the Nineveh Plain Area that would be directly related to the central government in Baghdad. This could provide Christians and other minorities with greater safety and offer more opportunity to control their own affairs with assistance from the central government…”

    Yes, yes, yes! And if that fails, the immediate recognition of a free, soveriegn, and independent Assyria incompassing the provinces of Nineveh and Mosul.

  5. says

    I don’t think the stepford wife, Condi, cares since they aren’t a “special interest group” according to her definition.

    However, liberating the Muslim Palestinians from the shackles of a “humiliating occupation” is a more worthwhile cause.

  6. says

    This northern preserve can and should be a semi-autonomous region, connected to an independent Kurdistan. Unlike the Arabs, the Kurds have another identity, other than Islam, to appeal to, and their mistreatment by the Arabs (including the mass murder of the al-Anfal campaign, which elicited not a syllable of protest from any Arab government or the Arab League, or indeed from any Arabs at all, save for Kanan Makiya and possibly another writer or two publishing in London). Many Kurds are genuinely and not unfeignedly grateful, and possibly for quite a while — for the American protection against Iraqi air power from 1991 to 2003, and for the removal of Kurd-murdering Saddam Hussein and his Arab regime. If Sunni-Shi’a strife could preoccupy the Arabs, this would give the Kurds their best chance to achieve an independnet Kurdistan, and that independent Kurdistan, in turn, would or could inspire Kurds in Iran and possibly Syria to revolt, and not only Kurds in Iran, but also other non-Persian minorities — Baluchis, Arabs in Khuzistan, Azeris. Thus an independent Kurdistan would threaten in different ways both Iran and Syria. And an independent Kurdistan would also not go unnoticed by Berbers in North Africa, especially in the Kabyle, or for that matter by Berber immigrants to France, who make up most of the membership of the secular groups such as “maghrebins laiques” (and who, to the extent that they can be encouraged to regard Arabs with hostility, are more likely to collaborate with the French security services, and even, perhaps, in France, to jettison Islam altogether).

    The problem for the American government is that it cannot be flexible, cannot admit to itself that the original policy in Iraq — to do everything possible to keep the country together, to force the Kurds to remain within an “Iraq” that most cannot bear to endure any longer — was wrong. Partly it is a matter of simply wanting to save face, of not being able to take in new information — about Islam, about the islamization of Europe that is far more threatening than anything that happens, or does not happen, in Iraq and the Muslim Arab states. And partly it reflects the want of imagination and timidity that inhibits American policy — especially, in this case, timidity towards Turkey.

    But it is perfectly possible, given that the United States would be the diplomatic and military supporter of Kurdistan, for the American government to extract from that government a promise not to make territorial demands on Turkey (with Iran and Syria, however, the sky’s the limit), on threat of having all military supplies cut. And then the government of Turkey, in turn, would not be asked but told that the American government would be the guarantor of Turkey’s borders, and that instead of threatening to invade Kurdistan, the Turkish government should see the wisdom of acquiescence, and of using this new nation-state as a vehicle for weakening both Syria and the Iranian menace.

    And there is one other promise to be extracted from the Kurds. And that is that the Kurds must guarantee the continued existence, and help to protect against the Arabs, Sunni or Shi’a, a Chaldo-Assyrian autonomous region, that would be created in northern Iraq, and to which Christians who do not flee elsewhere, could move and retain their ways, their customs, their traditions, and Christianity would still have a presence, albeit a reduced one, in Iraq. During the past century, constant pressure of Muslims has reduced the power and presence of non-Muslims in all the Muslim lands — Christians in Lebanon and Turkey and North Africa and Egypt have suffered declines in power and relative numbers, and in the same way, for the same reasons, Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been harried, persecuted, driven out, murdered.

    It may be that Christians will wish to leave Iraq altogether, and try to swell the ranks of Christians elsewhere in the Middle East — perhaps Lebanon would be the best choice, now that Syria’s Alawite despot, baby Assad, has apparently thrown in his lot with the Shi’a of Iran, and of Lebanon, and even permitted Shi’a missionaries to work among not only the Sunnis (understandable from his point of view) but also (and this is amazing) among the Alawites, those entirely unorthodox Muslim worshippers of Mary, as well.

    There is one more possibility, mentioned here on many occasions. That is to provide for a continued Christian presence in the Holy Land (right now it is only the government of Israel that guarantees continued Christian access, and the Israelis are under a state of permanent siege, that Lesser Jihad conducted against it that has no, can have, no end) by moving some Assyrians and Chaldeans to the “West Bank.”

    Room would be made for them, and the Israeli government agree, only if there were to be the kind of population exchange that that took place between Hindus and Muslims at Partition in 1947-48, or between Greeks and Turks in 1922. Arabic-speaking (but non-Arab) Christians from Iraq would settle in those places from which Arab Muslims, who could hardly be pleasant neighbors for those fleeing Muslim Arab persecution, would be removed, to go to the Arab Muslim country of their choice — Jordan, or for that matter western Iraq, to swell the ranks of the Sunnis, and possibly to dream of sharing in that oil wealth that, of course, will never come to themif they continue to live, and plot, in the place so absurdly renamed the “West Bank.”

  7. says

    Hugh,
    I don´t think it is that easy to convince West Bankers to quit their land to settle in Iraq. Most of them have been too identified with the idea of “Palestine” plus the Muslim notion that any dar al-Islam land must always remain as such that they won´t easily accept a transfer of populations to any other area.
    On the other hand, and even if I personally feel the deepest simpathy for Christian Arabs, we should also recognize (and our Israeli friends will point it out) their disproportionate representation among the enemies of Israel in the Middle East.
    However, it is a given fact that Arab Christians would be as a whole much more amenable to compromises, and the option for them to settle in the West Bank would look attractive perhaps.
    I believe the Western policy in the region should be to cautiouslly encourage -we don´t need this to be publicly acknowledged- the creation of several independent Christian or minority homelands, including:
    -“Egypt”, around Alexandria? In Sinai?. The name is to indicate THEY are the true Egyptians, as opposed to Misrians and their country Misr (Arab for Egypt).
    – Phoenicia: obviously for Christians in Lebanon.
    – Allawia, or simply Syria, as opposed to Sûriya, (the Arab for Syria), the Syrian coast, for Allawis and other minorities.
    – Mesopotamia: around Nineveh, or Mosul, for Iraqi Christians.
    – Moab: for Jordanian Christians, around Karak, Mukawwir, Madaba and Fuheis.

    On top of that, the independence of the little Emirates of the Gulf should be protected; plus the emergence of Kurdistan, instability in Southern Azerbaijan, Khuzestan, Baluchistan and others. I say instability, because the aim should be to provoke a regime change in Iran, short of which a nice little domestic conflict in several fronts would be enough.

    As for North Africa, the West Sahara should be independent, plus the Rif. Kabylie should depend on Algerian attitudes: let´s not forget they are fighting jihadists.

    Tunisia should be left untouched as long as it remains the way it is. And Lybia could be splitted .
    Southern Sudan should become independent, as well as Darfur and Kordofan, Somaliland, Punt and others.

    Christian Cassamance in Senegal as well.

    Not bad for a starter!

  8. says

    Finally, someone’s noticed.

    Get rid of islam, get rid of the problem. I don’t see that happening real soon. We can’t name the gorilla in the room, just yet.
    Posted by: freewoman

    I still think nuking Mecca is the way to go. We can wait till they nuke NY or DC or Rome[Vatican] perhaps at which point our hand will be forced.. Or we can do it now while we hold the weapons.

    I am simply laying out irrefutable logic. The only way to stop islam is to demonstrate Superior insurmountable force.

    Once we destroy Mecca the yootes will run wild in Europe and other Western countries. That’s the opportunity for our militaries and National Guard to round them up for internment and / or deportation.

    We cand either go in with a united force and mop up and destroy all mosks world-wide.. destroy their korans and other “books” and have the entire horror over and done with once and for all.

    Or we simply destroy Mecca and let them leave our lands.. to lick their wounds and maybe think it over. My guess is they’ll say somethign like the destruction of the kaba is a sign from alla-balla and they will stay in the mud for centuries to come until they find another opportunity to regroup sometime in the future.

    They are like the Borg and like the Terminator. it turned out pretty hard a task to dispose of that one. The Borg are a constant threat but have yet top be destroyed.

    Universal Law provides for self-defense. We will once day be faced with armed conflict. The longer we wait the bloodier things will get. The longer we wait the weaker they will think us and thew longer it will take to convince them otherwise. Means more dead on both sides.

    I know it won’t happen, but logic dictates we take out Mecca and roll the dice… Bring it ON!

  9. says

    re the massacre of Kurds during the Anfal campaign of 1988. Not only did no Arab govt protest to Saddam Hussein against the massacre, but Clovis Maqsud [or Maksoud], at one time an Arab League spokesman [perhaps still at that time] claimed that all of the negative publicity that Iraq was getting at the time was a Zionist plot or some such Zionist offense.
    Maqsud’s career should be carefully studied for preparing a catalogue of Arab lies against Israel and others.

    By the way, while Anfal was going on, the relatively minor incidents going on in Israel as part of the so-called “intifada” were getting much more Western press attention than that genocidal Anfal campaign which slaughtered up to 200,000 Kurds and displayed as many others, hundreds of villages and towns destroyed, etc. The NYTimes was trying to minimize the picture of mass murder that was actually taking place. All the news that’s fit to print –and that means only what fits our line.

    Remembering 1988, I also recall the poison gas attack at Halabja, which was quickly hushed up in the Western media. Then there was an incident in Israel, near Jericho, very reminiscent of the recent bus burning in Marseilles. Arab yoots threw firebombs into a bus. While some passengers could get out, a woman named Rahel [Rachel] was burned to death as was a soldier named David de la Rosa who helped save her three children but was himself killed.

  10. says

    There’s a good one, the Christians are fleeing to Turkey.

    Good God what a dilemma, they leave a country that has gone from 1.2million Christians – 600,000, and walk into a country that went from Millions of Christians – less than 200,000.

    Good luck to them, and I’m sure many in the west have not given this a second thought.

    Niv

  11. says

    niv,

    The overwhelming majority of the Christian refugees from Iraq are in Syria and Jordan, well over 250,000 at present. Only a couple thousand at most have gone ito Turkey and they only went there hoping to get to Europe. In fact, there are far more Iraqi Christian refugees in Iran than in Turkey. Most of the refugees in Iran are ethnic Armenians. The Iranians have assisted many of them in getting to Armenia or Russia which have good relations with Iran.

  12. says

    The best thing to do with these Christians is to have them leave. The West can’t protect them forever and the Muslims will do what they like with them. Let them emigrate to Europe-they need all the people they can get since so many are leaving. Once these Christian immigrants settle down they will probably be happy to serve as a counterforce against those rioting yoots.

  13. says

    Posted by: Eliyahu

    The NYTimes was trying to minimize the picture of mass murder that was actually taking place. All the news that’s fit to print –and that means only what fits our line.

    On the borders of Kurdistan

    On the borders
    Where throats are
    Choked with good-byes
    And eagerness is
    Suspended in the eyes
    And people asked
    When.. where are we ? why..?!

    Here a child dies..
    There a baby lies, and
    Another face-down cries:

    My wound is hurting
    My breath is hurting
    My stomach is hurting,
    Mother: Am I to die ?
    And my white pigeon ?!
    Are we going to die ?

    In tears she said:
    There beyond the border posts..
    Only days: we won’t die
    For us, God will try..

    Again, the child cries:

    Will my pigeon die ?
    Mother: I love her..
    She is my life
    Because I love,
    She does not deserve to die
    I love her…

    All broke in tears

    Dear.. your pigeon died
    When the planes pried

    And she broke in tears
    My white pigeon was gassed ?!
    My Kurdish pigeon died

    Mother.. my hair is falling
    why ? Am I do die ?

    Some water please..
    W-a-t-e-r …

    Alex Atroushi

    what the NY Times did not report

    http://illustratedpig.blogspot.com/2006/08/bloody-holy-friday-of-halabja.html