Thanks to brave American and regional troops, areas of Iraq and Syria, once under the blood-soaked control of the Islamic State, are being liberated. Just yesterday, October 17, we heard that Raqqa, the capital of the so-called Caliphate, was no longer under the control of the Islamic State. (With the help of the Islamic Republic of Sudan, the Islamic State intends to build a Caliphate across Africa, as well, but that is the subject for another blog post.) We owe so much to our troops, our Special Forces, to all that are working to defeat the Islamic State.
Still, more most be done in order to truly defeat jihad. The minority communities that have been most brutalized by ISIS need help as they try to rebuild their lives instead of just trying to survive from day to day. Frankly, when their displacement took place, they did not get much assistance from either the United Nations or USAID in surviving either. It was the small, faith-based organizations, helping the local religious communities, that kept them alive.
On March 17, 2016, then Secretary of State John Kerry designated ISIS crimes as genocide, identifying by name Yazidis, Christians, and other minority groups that have been particularly targeted for extermination by the jihadists. And yet, especially for the ancient Christian community, identifying “Christians” as in need of humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery assistance has carried an artificial stigma that comes with no other religious group. The Christians, along with Yazidis and other minorities, have received little aid and protection, in spite of the fact that it is because of their religious affiliation that are victims of genocide.
The Congressional sponsors of H.R. 390 are trying to remedy that situation. In January of this year, U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and 16 original c0-sponsors introduced the “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017.” The Act would make it U.S. policy “to ensure that humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery assistance for nationals and residents of Iraq or Syria, and of communities from those countries, is directed toward ethnic and minority individuals and communities with the greatest need, including those individuals and communities that are at risk of persecution or war crimes.” It would also seek to bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice.
H.R. 390 passed in the House this past June, but now it is languishing in the Senate after being passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Here’s where you come in. If you believe in this issue, you may find the following helpful:
- Get in touch with your two senators. Request that H.R. 390, that is on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, be voted on (and passed!) immediately.
- Inquire why there is a hold up in the Senate, if you wish to be so bold.
- Check out the list of H.R. 390 co-sponsors (47) and see if your member of Congress is one of them. If so, please contact him/her and express your appreciation for their support. Especially for the 17 originals, Mr. Smith and 16 co-sponsors, tell them how thankful you are for their defense of persecuted Christians and other minorities victimized by ISIS.
- If your member of Congress was not one of the 47, express a hope that they will be more proactive for the persecuted Christians and other vulnerable people groups in the future.
- In Defense of Christians has a very helpful form on which you may write to your senators asking them to speedily pass H.R. 390.
Please, let’s do all that we can to ensure the continued presence and flourishing of the Christian community in the Middle East.