In Geneva yesterday, eight bishops and patriarchs of the Churches of the Middle East denounced the “crimes against humanity” committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The religious leaders also stressed the “responsibility of the international community to protect communities and individuals whose basic human rights are violated.”
The Church leaders were invited to Geneva by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, head of the Holy See’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. Among the prelates were Patriarch Louis Raphaël Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church, based in Baghdad, and Patriarch Ignace III Yousif Yunan, of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch, based in Beirut.
The Christian leaders offered a press conference at the United Nations , where they called on Arab leaders to take a more active role in efforts to destroy the power of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which claims to speak in the name of Islam. They also sought a condemnation for the IS assault on minority religious communities.
Patriarch Ignace said that the “situation of Christians and other minorities amid the massacres and atrocities of ISIS is dire and our future in the region is at stake.” He also declared: “The leaders of Arab countries and the Arab League have to stand up and do something.”
For his part, Archbishop Sako said: “We are calling on the religious leaders of the Muslim countries to issue a fatwa [religious edict] against the killing of any human being, not just other Muslims.”
“So far, their voice has been very timid,” he said.
The Christian leaders also noted that they receive verbal support from their Muslim neighbors, but this does not translate into strong public pronouncements against the “genocidal actions” of the IS.
Sako went on to say, “We are Christians and we have been here [in Iraq] for 2,000 years. In 10 years more than 10,000 Christians have been killed.”