Representative Asks Congress About Christians in Iraq: Does Washington Even Care?

Says Christians Being Targeted for Extinction and Need Help

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US Representative Frank Wolf today again took to the House floor to speak out for the Christians and other religious minorities who are being systematically targeted for extinction in Iraq:

“I want to read the following piece that was posted on yesterday.  The headline was: ‘Has Last Christian Left Iraqi City of Mosul After 2,000 Years?’

“Here is how it began: ‘Samer Kamil Yacub was alone when four Islamist militants carrying AK-47s arrived at his front door and ordered him to leave the city.  The 70-year-old Christian had failed to comply with a decree issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and [Syria] (ISIS).  Yacub’s hometown of Mosul had boasted a Christian community for almost 2,000 years.  But then the al Qaeda-inspired fighters who overran the city last month gave Christians an ultimatum. 

“They could stay and pay a tax or convert to Islam – or be killed.  Yacub, 70, was one of the few Christians remaining beyond last Saturday’s noon deadline.  He may have even been the last to leave alive.’

“‘[A] fighter said, ‘I have orders to kill you now,’” Yacub said just hours after the Sunni extremists tried to force their way into his home at 11 a.m. on Monday.  ‘All of the people in my neighborhood were Muslim.  They came to help me – about 20 people – at the door in front of my house.  They tried to convince ISIS not to kill me.’

“‘The rebels spared Yacub but threw him out of the city where he had spent his entire life.  They also took his Iraqi ID card before informing him that elderly women would be given his house.’

“Mr. Speaker, this is but one example of what is unfolding in Iraq right before our eyes.  The end of Christianity as we know it is taking place in Iraq. 

This is the fifth time I have come to the floor over the last week to try to raise awareness of what is happening.  To talk about the genocide.  It is genocide.  Yes, genocide: the systematic extermination of a people of faith by violent extremists seizing power in a region. 

“Churches and monasteries have been seized.  Many of them looted then burned.  Last week it was widely reported that ISIS had blown up the tomb of the prophet Jonah.  Christians – threatened with their lives if they do not leave the region – are being robbed as they leave lands they have lived on for more than 2,000 years.

“With the exception of Israel, the Bible contains more references to the cities, regions and nations of ancient Iraq than any other country.  The patriarch Abraham came from a city in Iraq called Ur.  Isaac’s bride, Rebekah, came from northwest Iraq.  Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq, and his sons – the 12 tribes of Israel – were born in northwest Iraq.  The events of the book of Esther took place in Iraq, as did the account of Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  Many of Iraq’s Christians still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

“The Pope has spoken out. 

“His Beatitude Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan, overseer of Syriac Catholics around the globe, has spoken out. 

“His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, has spoken out.

“Archbishop Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, has spoken out.

“Russell Moore, a key leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, has spoken out.

“Despite these Christian leaders speaking out about the systematic extermination of Christians in Iraq, the silence in this town is deafening.  Does Washington even care?

“Where is the Obama Administration?  The president has failed.

“Where is the Congress?  The Congress has failed.

“Time is running out.  The Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq are being targeted for extinction.  They need our help.

“Literally, during our time, we will see the end of Christianity in the place it began.”

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