More on the persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims in Iraq, and the State Department’s indifference to this persecution. By Julia Duin in the Washington Times (thanks to all who sent this in):
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.”