Virginia Republican congressman Frank Wolf accused the Obama administration of ignoring the genocide of Iraqi Christians Thursday, saying that “Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out.”
“I believe what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide,” he said in a speech to the House of Representatives. “I also believe it is a crime against humanity. Where is the West? Where is the Obama Administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.” (RELATED: US Partially Evacuates Baghdad Embassy)
This is the second time this week Rep. Wolf has brought the issue to the floor. On Tuesday, he reminded the president that members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter in June urging him “to actively engage with the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to prioritize additional security support for especially vulnerable populations, notably Iraq’s ancient Christian community,” a call he has still not heeded. (RELATED: Local Chaldeans Worry About ISIS Deadline)
The Obama administration “needs to have the same courage as President Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell when they said genocide was taking place in Darfur,” he concluded. “The time to act is now.”
According to a letter he received from someone on the ground in Iraq, “All Mosul churches and monasteries are seized by ISIS. There are around 30. The cross has been removed from all of them. Many of them are burned, destroyed and looted. Many others are being used as ISIS centers. The religious Sunni, Shiite and Christian tombs are destroyed in Mosul. This destruction is endangering very ancient sites, such as prophet Jonah’s tomb, which was broken last week, according to many reporters.” (RELATED: ISIS To Destroy Ancient Biblical Artifacts In Northern Iraq)
Rep. Wolf, in addition to calling on the administration to speak out about the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Iraqi Christians, wants Obama to ensure relief funds are going to trusted humanitarian agencies and encourage the Kurdish government in its efforts to protect minorities. (RELATED: Pentagon Official Says Iraq Is So Fucked)
Over three years ago, he introduced a bill to create a special envoy for Near East Religious minorities, which passed with bipartisan support, but which has been languishing in the Senate ever since. According to one House staffer, the administration could break through the deadlock and appoint one themselves immediately without Congressional mandate, but has neglected to do so.
The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a position created by 1998’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, has been vacant since October of 2013, which Rep. Wolf has repeatedly shamed the administration about.
“As you know, during the Reagan years and during the Jimmy Carter years, they advocated, they spoke out,” he said back in March. “And when you talk to religious leaders in these countries [in the Middle East], they do not understand why America is not speaking out for them now.”