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Why Don’t Christian Victims of Islamic State Qualify As Victims of Genocide?

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persecuted-in-iraqThe Obama administration is moving to designate the Islamic State’s persecution of the Yazidi in Iraq an act of “genocide.” For the past few years the Yazidi, a tiny religious minority in the Kurdish region of the country, have been forced to flee the killings, rapes, and enslavement by Islamic State (the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS).

There is no doubt that what is happening to the Yazidi should be considered genocide. But what about the Christians who are suffering under Islamic State? According to some reports, Christian groups might not be included.

Nina Shea, a former commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, explains the significance of the exclusion:

This is not an academic matter. A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.

An unnamed State Department official was quoted by Isikoff as saying that only the attacks on Yazidis have made “the high bar” of the genocide standard and as pointing to the mass killing of 1,000 Yazidi men and the enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and girls. To propose that Christians have been simply driven off their land but not suffered similar fates is deeply misinformed. In fact, the last Christians to pray in the language spoken by Jesus are also being deliberately targeted for extinction through equally brutal measures.

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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