A columnist from UK daily newspaper, The Telegraph, Dr. Tim Stanley, warned that Christians in Iraq are not just facing persecution, but ethnic cleansing from the Islamic State.
Dr. Stanley told the audience at ‘The Global Persecution of Christian Minorities’, organized by a British foreign policy think tank on July 9 that the level of violence against Iraqi Christians can be considered as ethnic cleansing. Most of Muslim jihadists have been driven out of the region, but the few IS fighters who still remain wreak havoc against Christian communities, reports World Watch Monitor.
If we don’t say what is really happening in the region, which is ethnic cleansing of both Christians and Yazidis, we allow Islamic State and other perpetrators to get away with it. —Dr. Tim Stanley, Columnist at The Telegraph
“If we don’t say what is really happening in the region, which is ethnic cleansing of both Christians and Yazidis, we allow Islamic State and other perpetrators to get away with it,” said Stanley.
More than half of the 120,000 displaced Iraqi Christians have returned home, but still fear for their safety. Recently, IS claimed responsibility for the torching of several wheat and barley fields in Kirkuk, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Diyala provinces for being owned by ‘infidels.’
Despite the liberation of towns and villages from IS, the Christian population continue to decline. Iran-backed Shia militias continue to harass Christians and threaten the local clergy in the town of Bartella. Mosul remains without a Christian leader after the appointed priest refused to live in the city. In addition to the loss of security, the lack of employment is another factor why Iraqi Christians leave their homes, according to Catholic Herald.
Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil, warned that Christianity in Iraq will be extinct if violence against believers continue. He asked, “For the sake of not wanting to speak the truth to the persecutors, will the world be complicit in our elimination?”
Meantime, Dr. Matthew Rees, Head of Advocacy for Open Doors UK and Ireland, recommended that the UK government could include the topic of religious freedom in future trade negotiations. “Just like climate change, the topic of religious freedom is not a one-party or single-leader issue but something to grow consensus around.”