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Archbishop Fears More Islamic State Persecution Can Be ‘End of Christianity’ in Iraq

FILE - in this Thursday, March 20, 2014 file photo, Islamic State group militants patrol in a commandeered Iraqi security forces trucks sprayed with the representation of the al-Qaida flag and the Arabic that reads, "There is no god but Allah," in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, …
AP Photo, File

The genocide campaign carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) against Christians in Iraq is not over despite the fall of the jihadist group’s so-called caliphate in the Middle East, the Chaldean archbishop of Basra recently warned, the Catholic News Service (CNS) reported this week.

U.S. government and independent assessments have acknowledged in recent days that ISIS remains a menace in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. and the United Nations determined that the Sunni terrorist group is guilty of genocide against followers of Christ and other ethnoreligious minority groups in Iraq, believed to be the cradle of Christianity.

In an October 5 interview with CNS highlighted in a report published by the news outlet on Tuesday, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Habib Nafali indicated that Christianity in Iraq is unable to sustain another genocide campaign.

“Another wave of persecution will be the end of Christianity after 2,000 years,” he told the Catholic News Service, adding, “There is a global game, and the peaceful people — the minorities — in the end, will be the ones who are destroyed.”

The archbishop expressed fear that the terrorist group would continue to persecute Christians, noting that it has not been defeated.

Echoing recent assessments of ISIS activities in the Middle East, Nafali said he believed the jihadi organization has only gone underground.

He acknowledged that Christians have suffered “systemic violence” at the hands of ISIS, which he said seeks to “destroy their language, to break up their families and push them to leave Iraq.”

He asked, “If this is not genocide, then what is genocide?”

During a Senate panel hearing on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray conceded that ISIS remains a significant threat, telling lawmakers, “Despite significant losses of territory, ISIS remains relentless and ruthless in its campaign of violence against the West and has aggressively promoted its hateful message, attracting like-minded extremists.”

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), ISIS is recovering and regrouping in Iraq and Syria.

Some Iraqi Christians have praised U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration for keeping its campaign promise to provide aid to Christians and other victims of genocide in the Middle East.

The administration has reportedly provided tens of millions of dollars through USAID to Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in Iraq.

“We made some progress here in the first seven months. Across our administration, we have already devoted $110 million to this effort, but there is much more work to be done. And, we are about that work,” U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence declared this year.

“Christians have lived in what was known as Mesopotamia since the time of the apostles and speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus,” CNS reported. “But the archbishop said their number has plunged from 1.5 million to just 250,000 in the last 15 years, and they now represent about 1 percent of the population, compared to 6 percent a century ago.”

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