The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) reign of terror continues to ravage Iraq and Syria. For months, we have been detailing how Christians and other religious minorities who live in ISIS occupied territory have faced devastating persecution at the hands of these jihadists.
The United States Department of State has just released its own comprehensive International Religious Freedom (IRF) report, which details the horrors that religious minorities have been facing in the region at the hands of ISIS militants. (You can read our analysis of the IRF report on persecuted Christians in Pakistan here.) The report provides:
This year’s report details the actions of Non-State Actors, including rebel and terrorist organizations, who committed by far some of the most egregious human rights abuses and caused significant damage to the global status of respect for religious freedom. In some cases, government failure, delay, and inadequacy in combatting these groups and other societal actors had severe consequences for people living under dire religious freedom conditions.
The report features a truly gut-wrenching first-hand account, which gives a small glimpse at the unimaginable horrors of an encounter with ISIS for a Christian in Iraq or Syria.
In Mosul, Iraq and nearby towns, shortly after the takeover of the area by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Christians who had been given the choice to convert, pay a ruinous tax, or die, gathered their families and what few possessions they could carry, and sought all possible means to escape. Their community, having been a part of the rich culture and history of this city for more than a thousand years, was being threatened. Three-year old Christina Khader Ebada boarded a crowded bus with her mother to leave when suddenly one of the fighters guarding the checkpoint tore Christina from her mother’s arms. The panicked mother followed him, pleading with him to return the girl. “Shut up,” he responded. “If you come close to this little girl you will be slaughtered; we will slaughter you.” And she was forced back on the bus, leaving her baby behind, never to know what became of her. Christina and her family were also victims of ISIL’s brutal persecution, which has targeted all those, including religious and ethnic minorities, who oppose or do not fit in with ISIL’s ideological vision and its categorical and violent opposition to religious freedom.
This account is just one of thousands of ongoing atrocities being perpetrated by ISIS in Iraq and Syria against Christians. Through brutal tactics, they seek to root out all other religions. The IRF report continues:
On both sides of the border, ISIL sought to eliminate members of any group it assessed as deviating from ISIL’s own violent and destructive interpretation of Islam. It has forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people, conducted mass executions, and kidnapped, sold, enslaved, raped and/or forcibly converted thousands of women and children—all on the grounds that these people stand in opposition to ISIL’s religious dogma.
Just this week, as President Obama sends less than 50 special ops fighters to Syria to supposedly help combat ISIS, numerous stories fill news outlets about the continuing atrocities conducted by ISIS. Russia’s airstrikes in Syria are arguably allowing ISIS to gain even more ground, land, and power. ISIS entered Turkey to slash the throats of two Syrian activists there. And now, there are reports of ISIS sending teams of trained assassins into UN-run refugee camps in Jordan to murder Christians or kidnap young children and women to sell them into sex slavery. Reportedly, one jihadists had a change of heart after seeing Christians sacrificing everything and helping refugees who have been left with nothing.
This is why we must continue to shine a light on what ISIS is doing and why they must be stopped. This is why the ACLJ Law of War team published #1 New York Times bestseller Rise of ISIS to expose who ISIS is, what this radical Islamic army wants, and the brutal tactics they use before anyone else was talking about it.
This is why ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow went to Capitol Hill to talk about how ISIS and other non-state actors are trying to extinguish Christianity around the world. We argued that the International Religious Freedom Act should be amended to include non-state actors like ISIS so that the United States could use every weapon in its arsenal to defend persecuted Christians and other religious minorities to end the historic evil of ISIS.
Now, after our recommendations, the State Department has included non-state actions – specifically ISIS – in its comprehensive report on religious freedom. Our advocacy is having a tremendous impact.
It’s also why we continue urging our nation’s leaders to end all foreign aid to nations sharing the evil goals of jihad.
This is why the ACLJ joined NGOs, scholars, and religious leaders in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to publically acknowledge that ISIS’s actions constitute genocide against Christians and other religious minorities.
This is why we must continue doing whatever we can to stop ISIS once and for all. Join us in continuing to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, shining a light into the darkness, and doing whatever it takes to stop this historic evil.
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