Months of violence in Iraq, with strong elements of religious fanaticism and deep intolerance, reached a tipping point this week when thousands of Christians inside Iraq and an ethnic minority, the Yazidi, fled the army of the IS – Islamic State – that has established an Islamist caliphate in part of Iraq.
Religious and ethnic persecution cannot be tolerated in our sphere of influence, and the United States’ response to begin humanitarian assistance and defensive air strikes against the rebel insurgents is the correct counter to spreading totalitarian genocide. In addition, American diplomats and military advisers in Iraq are at risk.
Accounts of horrific acts by the terrorists/soldiers of IS report systematic beheadings of children, rapes of Christian and Yazidi women, and murders of whole families.
The Christian community in Iraq is among the world’s most ancient. It is part Eastern Orthodox and part Chaldean Catholic (Roman Catholic adherents).
Thousands of Iraqi Christians and other minorities have fled since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the United States, but hundreds of thousands of the threatened minorities remain.
An American Chaldean Christian has described the situation as genocide and a developing holocaust.
American intervention rises out of basic tenets of our own democratic republic: tolerance, respect and freedom for all, regardless of religion and ethnicity.
At the same time, the United States should use its diplomatic resources to bring allies in the region to place pressure on the insurgents to stop their campaign.
France has offered asylum to those fleeing the violence and killings. Similar measures should be made explicit by the U.S.
And, we should remember that millions of Islamic citizens in the United States live peacefully in America, offering mutual hospitality and valuing the freedoms available to all.
What must be stopped is renegade violence in the quest for absolute political power, with religious and ethnic genocide as an avenue to achieve it.
Friday’s editorial incorrectly stated that Gov. Phil Bryant attended an event at Philips Lighting marking a product expansion. He did not attend. We regret the error.