Friday, October 9, 2015

Crisis in International Religious Freedom

From First Things:
Unfortunately, ISIL is succeeding in its attempts to stamp out the region’s Judeo-Christian heritage. According to Wolf, there were roughly 150,000 Iraqi Jews in 1950. Today there are fewer than ten—a shocking statistic in its own right, but also an ominous sign in light of an old regional saying: “as go the Jews, so go the Christians.” Indeed, ISIL has its own version of that saying: “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” In other words, ISIL is systematically expelling, converting, or exterminating two ancient faiths in sequential order. Christians in Iraq numbered 1.5 million in 2003, Wolf observed, but that number has now fallen to approximately 200,000.

In neighboring Syria, where the al-Assad regime has for the past four years been massacring Sunni Muslims, ISIL has moved into the vacuum to target all religions that oppose their radical ideology, including Alawites, Shi’a and Sunni Muslims, and Christians. Observers estimate that more than half of Syria’s pre-conflict population has now been displaced or exterminated. (Read more.)

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