Forgetting the Christians: Can Christians Ever Be the Victims of Genocide
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This past weekend, the United States began to intervene in the humanitarian crisis unfolding in northern Iraq. The Islamist group ISIS has made a lightning conquest of much of the region, persecuting religious minorities, and even some Sunni Muslims, everywhere it goes. In response, the U.S. has begun air drops of food and water to up to 40,000 Yazidi refugees stranded on Mt. Sinjar, where ISIS militants have them surrounded. And the U.S. undertook airstrikes against ISIS positions threatening the Kurdish city of Erbil, where hundreds of American advisers are stationed. Other Western nations are getting involved as well. The United Kingdom dropped supplies to the Yazidis on Mt. Sinjar, and France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, visited Erbil to assess the situation.
In planning and delivering assistance to Iraqi refugees, the West—and particularly the United States, which has taken primary responsibility—should not ignore the plight of Christians. It may seem odd to voice this concern. After all, President Obama specifically mentioned Christians in his statements about American action. But Mideast Christians are often an afterthought for the United States, and it seems they are in this situation again. A Wall Street Journal report, which quotes unnamed members of the Obama administration, indicates the threat of genocide against Yazidis was the primary factor in the American decision to intervene. “This was qualitatively different from even the awful things that we’ve confronted in different parts of the region because of the targeted nature of it, the scale of it, the fact that this is a whole people,” the official said.