|Updated figures of Syrian refugees admitted into the U.S. since the Syrian civil war began.
Only 53, or 2.4 percent, of the 2,194 total are Christians. (Data: State Department Refugee Processing Center)
Obama’s Balance: 2.4 percent of Syrian Refugees are Christian
Critics say this is because the federal government relies on the United Nations in the refugee application process – and since Syrian Christians are often afraid to register with the U.N., they and other non-Muslims in invariably left out.
Fleeing persecution at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other jihadist groups, Syrian Christians generally avoid U.N. refugee camps because they are targeted there too.
Most refugees considered for resettlement in the U.S. are referred by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
More Christians Killed During Recent Years
According to a 7 April 2015 Washington Post article, the number of Christians killed due to their faith has skyrocketed
Has the world really “looked the other way” while Christians are killed?
David Curry, president of the nonprofit Open Doors USA, which advocates for persecuted Christians worldwide, believes so.
“We see a continued pattern in many of these regions of violence and persecution against Christians,” he said in a phone interview. “But the West and Western governments, including the U.S., when they conflict-map these issues, they refuse to address the fact that Christians are being targeted.”
As evidence, Curry pointed to President Obama’s Friday statement on the attack at Garissa University. Despite reports that the attackers targeted Christian students and an al-Shabab statement calling the attack an “operation against infidels,” Obama’s remarks make no mention of religion.
“I think some people would say that they’re fueling Islamophobia [by saying Christians were targeted], but that’s not really what we’re talking about,” Curry said. “We’re talking about identifying the ideology of extremists.”
He added: “That’s a major part of this story. At some point we so have to say that [religion] is part of this conflict.”
It’s not the first time this criticism has been leveled at the president. When the 21 Egyptian Christians were killed in Libya, many commenters — mostly from conservative outlets — criticized Obama for not identifying the victims’ faith in his statement on the beheadings.
Cameron Hudson, director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial, said there is no question that Christians are being targeted in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State has been vocal about its “genocidal intent” toward Christians and other minorities in those countries, he said. And though statistics on the death or displacement of Christians are hard to come by, the anecdotal evidence is bleak: Last summer, nearly every Christian in Mosul — one of the oldest Christian communities in the world — fled the city after Islamic State militants ordered them to leave or face death. Dozens of Assyrian Christians were abducted in eastern Syria earlier this year. Iraqi churches stand empty, even on major holidays, because so many congregants have fled.
100,000 Christians Martyred Per Year
A 17 May 2015 Breitbart article reports that 100,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year:
At least 100,000 Christians are killed every year because of their faith, which amounts to 273 per day, or eleven every hour, McAreavey said, without mentioning those who are “being tortured, imprisoned, exiled, threatened, excluded, attacked and discriminated against on a widespread scale.”
In a sobering presentation before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade this past week, McAreavey said that Christianity is the most oppressed religion in the world, and the followers of Jesus are actively persecuted in some 110 countries.
More striking still, he contended, according to the International Society for Human Rights, a non-religious organization, “80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians.”
The bishop recalled how the former Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, recently described this suffering of Christians in the Middle East as “one of the crimes against humanity of our time,” comparing it to the Jewish pogroms in Europe and saying he was “appalled at the lack of protest it has evoked.”
The barbaric actions against Christians, particularly in the Middle East, he said, call out for an urgent, coordinated and determined response from the international community. They are “a threat to our common humanity and to the religious and cultural patrimony of the world” as well as putting at risk “the peace and stability of the entire planet.”
New York Times Report on the Genocide against Christians
In a 22 July 2015 New York Times article, these accounts were added to the narrative:
Qaraqosh is on the Nineveh Plain, a 1,500-square-mile plot of contested land that lies between Iraq’s Kurdish north and its Arab south. Until last summer, this was a flourishing city of 50,000, in Iraq’s breadbasket. Wheat fields and chicken and cattle farms surrounded a town filled with coffee shops, bars, barbers, gyms and other trappings of modern life.
Then, last June, ISIS took Mosul, less than 20 miles west. The militants painted a red Arabic ‘‘n,’’ for Nasrane, a slur, on Christian homes.
One hundred years ago, the fall of the Ottoman Empire and World War I ushered in the greatest period of violence against Christians in the region. The genocide waged by the Young Turks in the name of nationalism, not religion, left at least two million Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks dead. Nearly all were Christian. Among those who survived, many of the better educated left for the West. Others settled in Iraq and Syria, where they were protected by the military dictators who courted these often economically powerful minorities.
From 1910 to 2010, the percentage of the Middle Eastern population that was Christian — in countries like Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Jordan — continued to decline; once 14 percent of the population, Christians now make up roughly 4 percent. (In Iran and Turkey, they’re all but gone.) In Lebanon, the only country in the region where Christians hold significant political power, their numbers have shrunk over the past century, to 34 percent from 78 percent of the population. Low birthrates have contributed to this decline, as well as hostile political environments and economic crisis. Fear is also a driver. The rise of extremist groups, as well as the perception that their communities are vanishing, causes people to leave.
For more than a decade, extremists have targeted Christians and other minorities, who often serve as stand-ins for the West. This was especially true in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, which caused hundreds of thousands to flee. ‘‘Since 2003, we’ve lost priests, bishops and more than 60 churches were bombed,’’ Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Erbil, said. With the fall of Saddam Hussein, Christians began to leave Iraq in large numbers, and the population shrank to less than 500,000 today from as many as 1.5 million in 2003.
The Arab Spring only made things worse. As dictators like Mubarak in Egypt and Qaddafi in Libya were toppled, their longstanding protection of minorities also ended. Now, ISIS is looking to eradicate Christians and other minorities altogether. The group twists the early history of Christians in the region — their subjugation by the sword — to legitimize its millenarian enterprise. Recently, ISIS posted videos delineating the second-class status of Christians in the caliphate. Those unwilling to pay the jizya tax or to convert would be destroyed, the narrator warned, as the videos culminated in the now-infamous scenes of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya being marched onto the beach and beheaded, their blood running into the surf.
The future of Christianity in the region of its birth is now uncertain. ‘‘How much longer can we flee before we and other minorities become a story in a history book?’’ says Nuri Kino, a journalist and founder of the advocacy group Demand for Action. According to a Pew study, Christians face religious persecution in more countries than any other religious group. ‘‘ISIL has put a spotlight on the issue,’’ says Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, whose parents are from the region and who advocates on behalf of Eastern Christians. ‘‘Christianity is under an existential threat.’’
One of the main pipelines for Christians fleeing the Middle East runs through Lebanon. This spring, thousands of Christians from villages in northeastern Syria along the Khabur River found shelter in Lebanon as they fled an ISIS assault in which 230 people were seized for ransom. This wasn’t the first time that members of this tight-knit community had been driven from their homes. Many of these villagers were descendants of those who, in 1933, fled Iraq after a massacre of Assyrian Christians left 3,000 dead in one day.