Pope Benedict’s Appeal for a New Iraq Initiative Backed
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Christian Solidarity International (CSI) has urged President Obama to act to prevent the eradication of Iraq‘s endangered Christian community.
Writing today to the President, Dr. John Eibner, CEO of CSI (USA), called on the White House to respond positively to this morning’s appeal by Pope Benedict XVI for a fresh international initiative to secure peace and reconciliation in Iraq. CSI proposed an American diplomatic initiative to convene high level government conferences, involving European and Middle Eastern states, to prevent the eradication of Iraq‘s Christian and other non-Muslim communities.
Eibner also asked President Obama to act in harmony with House Resolution 944 by instructing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to present Congress with a “comprehensive strategy to encourage the protection of the rights of members of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority communities in Iraq.” Just over two years ago, during the 2008 Presidential campaign, then Sen. Obama wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on account of the “heavy price” paid by Iraq‘s Christians and other religious minorities, requesting answers to a set of questions, among them:
“What specific steps has the State Department taken to urge the Iraqi government to provide protection to Iraq‘s Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities? Has the Iraqi government been responsive to requests for such protection? What is the U.S. government’s assessment of the Iraqi government’s efforts to protect religious minority communities?” (Sen. Obama to Secretary Rice, September 26, 2008.)
Eibner called on the President to ask Secretary of State Clinton to include in her strategic report answers to the questions he posed to her predecessor.
CSI’s appeal to the President came the day after at least 52 Iraqi Christians were killed and over 60 injured in a terrorist inspired bloodbath at Baghdad‘s Our Lady of Deliverance Catholic Church. U.S. SWAT troops, together with Iraqi security forces, launched a deadly attempt to free the Christian hostages.
The Al Qaida-linked “Islamic State of Iraq” claimed responsibility and threatened to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” This shadowy jihad terror network justified the savagery on religious grounds, claiming that the church was an “obscene nest of the polytheists [infidels]” and a “base for their struggle against the religion of Islam.”
Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein‘s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed.
Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: “He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.” (Kathpress, November 1, 2010.)
“This anti-Christian violence,” Eibner reminded Obama, “is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Eibner concluded by requesting the U.S. President to spare no effort to ensure that American and Iraqi security forces provide the same level of security to Iraq‘s endangered Christian community as has been long provided for the country’s vulnerable oil industry.
CSI has undertaken eight fact-finding and humanitarian aid visits to Iraq since 2007, and is providing medical assistance for maimed victims of terrorist attacks.