Silent Crimes on Christians in the Middle East: The Chaldean Genocide
Augustus York is TOP’s second featured columnist. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] and @theAugustusYork on Twitter.
Six years ago, the bishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, was violently executed by extremist Islamic militants. His untimely death shocked Chaldean Christians around the world, especially the large population of Iraqi Catholics living in the United States. Yet, the mass persecution of Christians in Iraq is nothing new, and has been happening for decades right in front of Iraq’s Shi’a government.
The bombing of monasteries and the routine rounding-up of Chaldean Christians was normal for those who lived under the iron fist of al-Qaeda, but the recent regime change has altered the day-to-day turmoil. The Islamic State has recently come to power in western Iraq and northeastern Syria and has imposed even more harsh restrictions on non-Muslims living in IS controlled territory. For instance, many Christians are given the ultimatum to convert, pay a hefty fine (jizyah) that includes the wife/sister of the accused, or be executed.
The Chaldean Genocide: A case for the UN?
Despite the relative “leniency” with which the IS treats these religious minorities, attacks against Christian congregations and violence against families have increased much to the dismay of Chaldean Christians living in the United States. As the amount of hate crimes against minority religious groups has increased exponentially, ethnic Iraqi and Syrian Christians living outside of the tyrannical stranglehold that is the IS have appealed to their respective nations’ government to intervene on behalf of those being oppressed, and have even gone as far as to ask the United Nations to step in.
A “genocide in slow-motion”
The Islamic State is an extremist jihadist group that have exceeded the cruelty and fanaticism of even the infamous al-Qaeda. Yet, the boundaries of ethics have been tested once again as the Islamic State systematically beheads the children of Chaldean minority groups in Iraq. Chaldean outcries have become even more frantic as the Iraqi Christians are taken out of the frying pan and thrown into the fire. Some have even taken it so far as to call the abuse a “genocide in slow-motion”.
It has been estimated that 400,000 Chaldean Christians remain trapped in IS territory, and that almost 1,000,000 have been able to escape the ultra-conservative Sharia law by passing into Turkish and Lebanese territory. Another, more pessimistic estimate has claimed, that of the 150,000 Christians living in Mosul in 2010, there are none left.
President Barack Obama recently addressed the American people and the world on the United States’ strategy against the IS. In his speech, he offers the support of the US armed forces but urges that the Iraqi government take proactive steps to stem the rapid spread of ISIS in the Middle East, and puts into place an unofficial game plan that focuses on protecting minority groups under prosecution by Sharia courts.
Yet, many Chaldeans argue that the United States is not acting fast enough and are not pleased by the President’s approach. Only time will tell what will happen to the Chaldean Christians in Iraq.
Special thanks to anon for bringing this story to our attention.