Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2014 / 16:14 pm
Both academic and religious leaders, in the U.S. and abroad, have urged greater U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State, which had displaced hundreds of thousands of religious minorities from their homes under threat of death.
"Before the harsh and heartbreaking realities further afflict these families, the United States of America, also due to their prior involvement in Iraq, the European Union, and the league of Arab countries have the responsibility to act rapidly for a solution," the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako, wrote in an Aug. 13 open letter.
"They must clear the Nineveh Plain from all the elements of Jihadist Warriors and help these displaced families return to their ancestral villages and reconstitute their lives."
More than 100,000 Christians have fled their homes in northern Iraq due to the advance of the newly established caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the patriarch said. According to the UN, there are more than 1.2 million internally displaced persons in Iraq, as well as at least 10,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria.
He called the current international response to the situation "insufficient" and warned that the Islamic State will not stop eradicating Christianity from Iraq, with the world being responsible for a "slow genocide" if it doesn't act.
"If the situation does not change," he wrote, "the whole world should take the responsibility of a slow genocide of a genuine and entire component of the Iraqi society and of losing its heritage and age-old culture. ISIS tries to erase all traces!"
A group of more than 50 American academics and professionals joined the patriarch in calling for military action, stating in a Aug. 13 letter that non-military actions "will not be capable of protecting the victims of the genocide already unfolding" at the hands of the Islamic State.
Among the signatories were Princeton law professor Robert George; Providence College English professor Anthony Esolen; Notre Dame law professor Gerard Bradley; Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention; and the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Ed Whelan.
"It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities," the letter stated.
"This goal cannot be achieved apart from the use of military force to degrade and disable ISIS/ISIL forces."
"We call upon the United States and the international community to do everything necessary to empower local forces fighting ISIS/ISIL in Iraq to protect their people," the letter continued. "No options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table."
And on Aug. 14, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, head of the U.S. bishops' conference, thanked President Obama for humanitarian aid given to Iraqi Christians and other minorities, while also insisting that "more must be done" to help them.
"Pope Francis called upon 'the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities,'" he noted.
"I urge the United States to answer this call in concert with the international community," Archbishop Kurtz said.
"We know too well that attacks on religious and ethnic minorities are attacks on the health of an entire society. Violence may begin against minorities, but it does not end there. The rights of all Iraqis are at risk from the current situation."