Religious minorities face genocide in Middle East, activists say

Nearly six months after Secretary of State John Kerry declared the murder of Christians in the Middle East a “genocide,” Westerners are doing little to stop the killings, said activists gathered for a convention on the victims’ plight.

Religious freedom advocate Katrina Lantos Swett called the crisis “perhaps the great moral challenge of our time right now,” at a news conference Wednesday (Sept. 7) opening the national convention for In Defense of Christians, an advocacy group.

Advertisement

“I am baffled and heartbroken, as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, at how it is possible for the West to seem so, so blind, willfully blind, or even worse, aware but relatively disinterested in what is unfolding in our time, on our watch, in our purview of being able to act,” said Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

Activists are urging Congress to take decisive steps to protect the lives and culture of groups such as Assyrian and Coptic Christians, and non-Christians such as the Yazidis.

Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., announced plans during the news conference to introduce legislation to support restoration of Coptic Christian churches destroyed by Egyptian looters in religious violence in 2013.

Andrew Doran, co-founder of In Defense of Christians, said his group and other advocates will be working together to seek congressional action on ending the conflict in Syria, which he said is breeding terrorism in that region and beyond it.

“It’s not coming, it’s here—it’s in our churches, it’s in our nightclubs and it’s in our public spaces and it will get much worse before it gets better,” he said. “If we move swiftly to end the conflict in Syria we can save lives there now and save American lives and other lives elsewhere in the decades to come.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Matthew MacFadyen (Henry Wilcox) Hayley Atwell (Margaret Schlegel) in 'Howards End’
E. M. Forster's masterpiece is a state-of-the-nation thesis in the guise of a real estate inheritance plot.
Rob Weinert-KendtApril 19, 2018
A beading session at Loom Chicago. Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The report found that Catholic initiatives addressing the refugee crisis are marked by their commitment to a range of Catholic social teaching, including respect for life, a commitment to the common good, care for the earth and promoting the dignity of work.
Immigrants just released from detention via a U.S. immigration policy known as "catch and release" stand at a bus station April 11 before being taken to the Catholic Charities relief center in McAllen, Texas. (CNS photo/Loren Elliott, Reuters)
The Legal Orientation Program, which President George W. Bush put into place in 2003, helps detained immigrants know their rights and legal options.
J.D. Long-GarcíaApril 19, 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron listens to speeches at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on April 17. (AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias)
President Emmanuel Macron scandalized secularists by praising Catholic contributions to French public life, but he has yet to work toward religious liberty.
Pascal-Emmanuel GobryApril 18, 2018