Iraqi Christians attend mass at Mar George Chaldean Church in Baghdad, March 1, 2015. Iraqi Christians say they have no intention of leaving the country despite the recent abduction of over 100 Assyrian Christians by the Islamic State.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The US State Department is reportedly about to designate the attacks by the Islamic State terrorist group on the Yazidis as genocide. As commendable as such a diplomatic gesture may be, the question that begs to be asked is, if the Yazidis, why not the Christians?
The 1948 Genocide Convention defines “genocide” as, among other things, “deliberately inflicting on” a religious group “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” As Islamic State continues to drive Christians from their homes, seizing their property, and offering them the “choice” between converting to Islam or being massacred, one must conclude that this qualifies as genocide.
To cite just one incident reported in the National Review in October, Islamic State terrorists demanded that two Christian women and six men in a conquered village convert to Islam. When they refused, the women were publicly raped and then beheaded along with the men. The Islamists then cut off the fingertips of a 12-year-old boy to persuade his Christian father to convert. When the father refused, he and his son were tortured and then crucified.
Such is the fate of Christians living in areas of Iraq and Syria that have been occupied by ISIS. During his Bolivian trip in July, Pope Francis called it “genocide.” ISIS seeks to spread the terror of its ways via social media videos of beheadings and crucifixions, but these have become so commonplace that they hardly register in the public consciousness.
An equally sinister genocidal ISIS practice has been underreported: the enslavement of those who will not renounce their religious beliefs. As reported by the Hudson Institute, “Islamic State’s ‘revival’ of the institution of chattel slavery – the sexual slavery of Christian and Yazidi women and girls no less – has faded from public attention.
Over the past decade, thousands of Iraqi and Syrian Christians – including, in 2013, an entire convent of Syrian Orthodox nuns – have been taken captive for ransom.”
Last August, shortly after ISIS established its self-declared caliphate, it began awarding and selling captured non-Sunni women and girls as sex slaves. The vast majority was Yazidis, but some, according to UN reports, were Christians.”
In July, The New York Times ran an article titled, “Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East?” noting that some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are disappearing from the very lands where they were born.
Following numerous reports, Christian leaders urged the State Department to recognize the reality of an ongoing genocide against Middle Eastern Christians at the hands of the murderous jihadists. They are still awaiting a response regarding Christians, while the US is reportedly poised to label Islamic State’s onslaught against the defenseless Yazidi people as genocide.
One theory about this reluctance of the Obama administration to call genocide by its name is its apparent view that, unlike the Yazidis, the Christians can avoid genocide by accepting dhimmi status, an underclass reserved for Christians, Jews, and other minorities who are permitted to reside in the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate by paying a special tax, known as the jizya.
The jizya argument fails because it is basically a ruse.
The tax is often set at a level where many Christians cannot pay it, and so they are forced to flee to survive if they can. ISIS may not be determined – for now – to physically annihilate the Christians of the Middle East, but it is doing everything it can to destroy their religious culture.
Experts have warned that Christianity will disappear from Iraq and Syria – places where Christians have lived since the religion began – within one or two generations.
One insidious practice Islamic State employs to hasten this process is sexual slavery. The Hudson Institute reports there are up to 4,000 enslaved Yazidis and Christians. In October, Islamic State published pricing guidelines for slaves based on age, starting with “200,000 dinars for a Yazidi/Christian woman aged 1-9” and ending with “75,000 dinars for a Yazidi/Christian woman aged 30-40.”
ISIS guidelines price Christian and Yazidi nine-year-olds at $172.
The State Department’s 2015 Sex Trafficking Report devotes barely two paragraphs out of 380 pages to the Islamic State’s institutionalization of sex slavery. If the Obama administration is so blind to human slavery, it is no wonder it has trouble recognizing genocide.