Former Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and his Wilberforce Initiative has released a report titled “Edge of Extinction: Plight of Iraqi Christians,” which documents the grave situation of the Christian and other minority communities in the country.
The report outlines that this would not be the first time a religious population would disappear from Iraq. In 1948, the report notes that Iraq’s Jewish population, which numbered 150,000, was expelled from the country shortly after the modern State of Israel declared independence. The report adds, “Today, there are less than ten known elderly Jews living in Iraq. An oft-repeated refrain remains grimly germane: ‘first the Saturday People, then the Sunday People.’”
Congressman Wolf’s 21st Century Wilber Initiative reports that over the last decade, Iraq’s Christian community has fallen from approximately 1.5 million to just 300,000.
A group of Christian Iraqi leaders told the advocacy group:
This is not just the end of Christianity but the end of our ethnicity who have lived here for thousands of years. We believe this is genocide. We do not have the opportunities for education. We do not have the opportunities for work. We do not have opportunities for health care. What is left for us?
The report notes that the Islamic State is largely responsible for the threats to Iraq’s Christian communities. Furthermore, the group’s destruction of Iraqi Christians’ ancient “religious and cultural heritage is unprecedented in Iraq.”
The Wilberforce Initiative report on the dangers posed to Iraq’s minority communities adds:
Yezidis note that this is the 73rd intentional targeting of their community. What has changed with the Islamic State is the speed and scope by which these religious and ethnic communities are being decimated. The Nineveh Plains had been one of the last relatively safe havens for Christians, Yezidis, Shabak, Turkmen, and other minority groups, but with the fall of Mosul and surrounding areas in the summer of 2014, Iraq’s minorities have no place to go and are nearing the precipice of total disappearance.