“A real genocide is occurring in Iraq that nobody wants to talk about and no international body is dealing with,” said former Iraqi Minister Pascale Warda Tuesday.
According to Warda, the Islamic State (ISIS) is determined to “annihilate” the Christian presence and all social and religious minorities that oppose its principles, despite the fact that the Christian community in Iraq dates back to the first century, long before the arrival of Islam.
“In Mosul for the first time in two thousand years the Eucharist is no longer celebrated,” she said. “It is a very dark historical period” for the Chaldeans.
Warda, the former minister of Immigration and Refugees in the Iraqi Interim Government from 2004-2005, was speaking at a press conference organized in Madrid by the foundation “Aid to the Church in Need.”
A Chaldean Catholic and president of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, Warda warned Tuesday that as an international movement of terrorism, the Islamic State requires international solutions. She called for “international aid” against the “attempt to annihilate” Christians. “We need international help to fight the Islamic State. It is diabolical. It is an international movement of terrorism and requires real international solutions,” she said.
“The Islamic State wants to destroy Christianity and all minorities,” she said.
Warda is a leading voice against violations of religious liberty in Iraq and, since the emergence of the Islamic State, has documented human rights abuses committed in her country.
“Christians are being slaughtered and have to figure out how to reestablish their existence in a country that belonged to them long before anyone else. It is very difficult, there are few and they are debilitated,” she said.
In this regard, she warned Western countries that if the Islamic State “is now located in Iraq, tomorrow it may be in their own countries,” and therefore, she appealed for cooperation from the international community to address the problem.
Warda said that the Islamic State is “attacking the values of the Middle East.” She also said that air strikes are not enough and that “troops are needed” to stop ISIS’ advance.
“We can’t do it alone,” she said.
The Pew Research Center has just released a study documenting a shift in the opinion of Americans regarding both the military campaign and the idea of sending U.S. ground troops to the Middle East. A growing number of U.S. citizens favors both military action against ISIS and the deployment of ground troops.
Warda also urged her own country of Iraq to “help defend their cities” because, she claimed, “it has completely failed in its duty.” Warda had harsh words for the Iraqi government, saying that in the case of Mosul, the Iraqi Army “has turned their back on the Christians who have been executed or exiled.”
She also called on Islamic governments to pronounce “a serious condemnation” of the Islamic State, even a fatwa, if they really wish to clarify that “these people do not represent Islam.”
So far, she said, “they have not condemned them as they should.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.