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Christian persecution worsens

The foreign minister of France, Laurent Fabius and that country's interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, issued a joint statement recently condemning the onslaught and persecution of Christians in Iraq by jihadist forces as reported by yahoonews. Their statement on Monday indicated that France was ready to facilitate asylum for Iraqi Christians fleeing such violence.

Thousands of Christians and other minorities have been attempting to flee the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and additional areas as extremists have boiled out of Syria and taken control over large sections of Iraq, the same article reported. Militants have demanded that Christians convert to their version of Islam or leave the area. This has prompted mass exodus.

Those who have not left have been threatened with execution and forfeiture of property to the terrorist forces, according to the article.

The joint statement of the ministers noted that Christians in these areas were "historically an integral part of this region." The report noted a Christian presence in what is present day Iraq for nearly two millennia.

According to this article, prior to the U.S. led 2003 invasion of Iraq, there were more than 1 million Christians living in that country.

The report related that the United Nations Security Council has "denounced the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Iraq, warning such actions can be considered crimes against humanity."

It is rather obvious that extremist forces in Syria and Iraq have absolutely no regard for some theoretical punishment that either the Iraqi government or some other collection of governments might bring to bear upon them for their violence and threats of violence. It is equally obvious that there is but one language which they understand. That would be the universal language of force.

It would be nice if the president or Secretary of State John Kerry would offer some sort of moral or tangible support to those facing religious persecution in various parts of the Middle East or Africa. I have yet to hear such a statement from either of these gentlemen.

L.A. Times opinion columnist Michael McGough also weighed in on the topic of persecution in a July 25 column headlined, "Christians are being persecuted, and the U.S. should support them."

McGough observed that Pope Francis had greeted Meriam Ibrahim upon her release from captivity in Sudan. She had been sentenced to death by a Sudanese court for illegally converting from Islam to Christianity. Ibrahim had pled that she never had been a Muslim and was instead raised as a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother.

McGough spent the bulk of his column describing the "Al Qaeda offshoot known as Islamic State" ordering Christians in Iraq to convert, leave or die. He cited the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Louis Sako, for the statement that "For the first time in history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians."

McGough bemoans the cultural and economic loss of a vibrant Christian population that had in the past been in a position to build educational and political bridges with Western countries.

He closed his column with the suggestion that Ibrahim's next stop should be a reception at the White House.

Somehow, I do not see the president being able to squeeze such a visit in between his fundraisers, his tee times and his vacation to Martha's Vineyard.

Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His column appears on Fridays. Email him at zimlaw64@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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