Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians in flight as Islamic State advances
Catholic World News - August 08, 2014
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized several Christian towns in northern Iraq, including Bakhdida (Qaraqosh), the nation’s largest Christian town.
The jihadist group now controls 30% of Syria and over 40% of Iraq.
“The churches are occupied, their crosses were taken down,” said Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church, to which the majority of Iraq’s Christians belong. “The government is unable to defend our people, as is the Kurdistan government. They need to work together, receive international support and modern military equipment.”
“It’s a catastrophe, a tragic situation,” said Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk. “We call on the UN Security Council to immediately intervene. Tens of thousands of terrified people are being displaced as we speak, it cannot be described.”
In addition to persecuting Christians, the Islamic State has also persecuted the Yazidi, who adhere to an ancient religion related to Zoroastrianism. Tens of thousands of Yazidi fled to the Sinjar Mountain ridge, where they risked dying of thirst.
As the Islamic State advanced on Erbil, a city of 1.5 million that is the capital of the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan, President Barack Obama said he would protect the American consulate there and assist the Yazidi on the mountain ridge.
“To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city,” he said.
“And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect,” he continued. “When we face a situation like we do on that mountain -- with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help -- in this case, a request from the Iraqi government -- and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”
An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:
Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!
Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($162,320 to go):
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!
Posted by: jg23753479 -
Aug. 08, 2014 11:09 PM ET USA
Notice that Obama continues the nonsense we have heard since the unlamented days of George W Bush, the assertion that the perpetrators are "terrorists". (Btw, aren't these the same "terrorists" Obama once wanted to defend with our own air force?) Why can't he and other Western pols bring themselves to talk straight for a change and to say what we all know too well, viz. that these "terrorists" are, in fact, nothing more nor less than good Muslims?
Posted by: FredC -
Aug. 08, 2014 9:11 PM ET USA
Obama will help the Zoroastrians but NEVER the Christians -- anywhere in the world.
Posted by: John J Plick -
Aug. 08, 2014 11:08 AM ET USA
"President Barack Obama said he would protect the American consulate there and assist the Yazidi on the mountain ridge..." Really??? Prove me a fool...