Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a congressional commission, Tuesday.
The focus of his testimony was what the United States must do, in addition to helping stop the genocide of Christians and others now taking place in the Middle East. He said the U.S. must also act to prevent a recurrence of genocide by assuring the future of the affected communities.
"Their future affects not only the fates of Christianity and other minority religions in Iraq and Syria, it also implicates the national security of the United States," he said. He also referenced a 300-page report his organization prepared for the State Department last month regarding Christian genocide in the Middle East.
The Knights of Columbus report outlined a five-step approach to stopping the genocide:
- First, as lands are liberated, proper planning must be in place to assist those evicted by ISIS and those who will flee the military actions that liberate lands under its control. Genocide victims who wish to return to their home areas should be helped to do so.
- Second, genocide survivors who wish to come to the United States must not be put at the back of the line. Of the 1,366 Syrian refugees admitted to this country in 2016, fewer than 3 percent came from the groups targeted for genocide.
- Third, Christians and other minorities who wish to remain in Iraq and Syria should also be able to do so.
- Fourth, the American legal concepts of equal protection, free speech, freedom of the press and assembly and the free exercise of religion are critical to achieving real pluralism in the region.
- Finally, interpersonal relationships that bind society together must be created. A spirit of forgiveness already articulated by the Christians of the Middle East could form the basis for a commission of reconciliation and mercy.
"The United States cannot help defeat ISIS without defeating its genocidal antecedents—the malignant idea that discrimination and second-class status are the lot of religious minorities, and that those who offend Islam, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, must be eliminated," Anderson said. "If [Christians and other religious minorities] disappear, pluralism and stability leave with them. Iraq and Syria will at best become unstable majoritarian tyrannies.
"Peace, equality and stability, rather than religious terrorism and genocide, can be the legacy of these countries and of our involvement there. Our leadership can help these societies, the Middle East and the security of the American people."
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