Monday, August 04, 2014

The continued religious persecution in Iraq

National Iraqi News Agency reports:

Elements of the Islamic State blew up shrines belong to the Yazidi sect and killed 70 Yazidi after refusing to convert to Islam, witnesses say.
The witnesses told the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that "elements of the Islamic State blew up two shrines belong to Yazidi at the bottom of Sinjar Mount and trying to also blow up another shrine at the top of Sinjar Mount after noting the people of nearby to evacuate in order to detonate it." 

Bram Janssen covers the events for AP and there are four photos with the report, the first of which includes this caption, "This image made from video taken on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014 shows Iraqis people from the Yazidi community arriving in Irbil in northern Iraq after Islamic militants attacked the towns of Sinjar and Zunmar. Around 40 thousand people crossed the bridge of Shela in Fishkhabur into the Northern Kurdish Region of Iraq, after being given an ultimatum by Islamic militants to either convert to Islam, pay a security tax, leave their homes, or die."

The ultimatum is the same one given to Christians in Mosul only a few weeks ago.  It should also be noted that it's been reported religious minorities other than Christians have been the first to receive these warnings and then, after they're cleared out, a week or so later the Christians are the ones threatened.

CBC notes, "Hundreds of Iraqi Canadian Christians gathered in Toronto today calling for the government to stand up against the persecution Christians in Mosul have faced since terrorist group ISIS began its occupation on June 10.  The crowd marched around Queen’s Park Sunday afternoon."  Mike Maloney (London Community News) adds, "More than 200 people lined the sidewalk of Richmond Street alongside St. Peter’s Basilica Sunday afternoon (Aug 3) to raise awareness around the plight of Christian’s being forced to flee their homes in Northern Iraq. "

Those are not the action planned by Aid for the Church in Need and others for Wednesday, August 6th.  It is an action that's part of a growing protest over the targeting and why many are expecting the August 6th action to have a healthy participation rate around the world.

Around the world includes Iraq.  Dalje notes, "Hundreds of Kurds in the northern Iraqi cities of Erbil and Sulaimaniya have protested at violence by Sunni extremists in northern Iraq against members of the Yezidi minority."  Unlike much of the rest of the world, protesters in Iraq actually risk safety when taking a public stand against the targeting.  Even those who enter Iraq to protest the targeting risk less than Iraqis who have decided to stay in Iraq.  For example, Catholic World News reports, "Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, joined by two other French bishops, made a four-day trip to Iraq to meet with some of the nation’s persecuted Christians. "

That was a brave move by the Cardinal but it's also true that after the visit, the Cardinal returns home.

The Sunni resistance is having success in seizing territory throughout Iraq.  But it is unified around one issue and it is not a monolithic group.  These are facts that too many struggle to convey or acknowledge.  Which is why Ned Parker and Suleiman al-Khalidi's report for Reuters is all the more important.  Excerpt:

The alliance between Sunni tribesmen, nationalists, old Baath regime loyalists and military veterans on one side and Islamic State on the other is based almost entirely on a mutual hatred of Maliki's Shi'ite government and a desire for an independent Sunni region.
But like most Iraqi Sunnis, Suleiman is no Islamic extremist. He helped crush an earlier incarnation of al Qaeda in Iraq. And he was disturbed recently by the news that tens of thousands of Christians were fleeing the city of Mosul after an Islamic State ultimatum that they should convert, leave or be put to the sword. The notion was an affront to Suleiman, who grew up in cosmopolitan Baghdad and has often spoken publicly of the need for tolerance.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Exhibitionist" went up last night. On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include the terrorization of dissent -- addressed with guest Anthony Nocella and Eli Smith joins the hosts to discuss the role of music in mass movements.
We'll close by again noting  Aid to the Church in Need's announcement on the Global Day of Prayer for Peace:

Aug. 6, 2014--Feast of the Transfiguration
“Please stop, I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please.” Inspired by these words of Pope Francis (June 27, 2014), the international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need, united with His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, appeals to all persons of good will to join in a Global Day of Prayer for Peace to be held on August 6, 2014—the Feast of the Transfiguration.Chaldean Cross

The feast of Transfiguration marks the moment when Jesus, on Mount Tabor, appears to three of his disciples in a state of glory, shortly before His ultimate trial on Calvary. This feast holds out a sign of hope for humanity: it is a source of courage when obstacles appear impossible to surmount; a sign that light is stronger than darkness; and testimony that death can turn into life.

Meant to be observed in churches and homes across the country, this Global Day of Prayer in the midst of so much suffering in Iraq—particularly for the ancient Christian community of Mosul—tells the world at large that US Christians have not forgotten and abandoned their suffering brothers and sisters.

Patriarch Sako has personally composed the Prayer for Peace:

The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.

Glory be to you forever.

The Patriarch also said: “Let us unite our voices and hearts before the Lord of peace. May the light of Tabor fill the hearts of all suffering people with consolation and hope. May the message of Tabor, through our prayers, inspire the leaders of Iraq to sacrifice personal interests for the common good and welfare.”

Please click here and join ACN's candle vigil for Iraq.