Commonsense Conservative For Ohio


America Must Stand With Iraqi Christians

By Sen. Rob Portman | July 30, 2014

Today in Iraq, we are witnessing the systematic purging of Christians. In Mosul — Nineveh of Bible times — where Christians have lived for nearly two thousand years, the terrorist group the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has declared war on non-Muslims.

The leaders of the Islamic State have issued an ultimatum to local Christians: convert to Islam, pay a fine that few can afford, or “die by the sword.” Many have fled and been robbed of all of their possessions before they can get out of town. Some that remain have found their homes stamped with a symbol denoting their religion and marking them for death, and untold numbers have already been killed. A decade ago, 1.5 million Christians made Iraq their home. Today, fewer than 400,000 remain.

Even before the founding of our country, religious liberty has been sacred to the American people. And when that freedom has been threatened around the world, we have led the fight against those who would deny it, lending spiritual, economic, and military support to oppressed peoples. Today we must act in Iraq.

Our government bears some responsibility for what we are seeing unfold. When we left Iraq in 2011, we failed to maintain the limited military and intelligence presence needed to secure the gains our men and women in uniform had made over eight years of war. Without our leadership, the nascent Iraqi government did not fill that void. So into the power vacuum stepped radical Islamists, bent on capturing as much territory as possible and establishing a new Caliphate — an Islamic state that was also a goal of al-Qaeda. They now control a large swath of land in Iraq and Syria, and in those areas they are engaged in religious cleansing on a grand scale.

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