Christians in the Middle East are being sent a message that help is on its way from the United States after President Donald Trump signed a new law on Wednesday.
H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, specifically addresses the genocide of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
HR 390: “To provide relief for victims of genocide, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, and war crimes who are members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Iraq and Syria, for accountability for perpetrators of these crimes, and for other purposes.”#WWG1WGA
— 🇺🇸Riggs1369🇺🇸 (@riggs1369) December 11, 2018
The summary of the bill says that its purpose is to give aid to the persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Section 4 of the bill said that the assistance was directed toward the residents and communities of Iraq and Syria who “are at risk of persecution or war crimes.”
The assistance will include things such as conducting criminal investigations and “collecting and preserving evidence for use in prosecutions.”
A representative of the Knights of Columbus — an organization that has played an integral role in aiding persecuted Christians — was present at the signing, according to Breitbart.
Breitbart reported that the Catholic Church fraternal order “has allocated $20 million to provide relief to Christians and other religious minorities, including $2 million to rebuild Karamles, a town in Iraq that ISIS had destroyed.”
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said, “With the legislation signed today, America speaks with bold moral clarity and political unanimity.” He added that the new law “reminds us of America’s earlier efforts to aid victims of genocide — Christian communities targeted by Ottomans a century ago and Jewish survivors of Shoah.”
The genocide of Christians in the Middle East has been an ongoing problem that has grown worse over the years. Although it gets little media attention, the situation is alarming. While groups such as the Knights of Columbus are actively involved in helping, some are just keeping a close eye on it.
There was a call in September for the U.N. to officially recognize the genocide of Christians in Syria and Iraq. “ISIS’s crimes against Christians include beheadings, burning victims alive in caskets, and rape,” the National Review reported.
As horrifying as those crimes are, the stories pouring out of areas hit by the genocide of Christians and other religious minorities can be even worse. The acts go far beyond trying to chase other religions out. The acts are those of extermination, often after or during torture.
An Aid to the Church in Need study of 2015-2017 reported that the problem was getting worse. In reviewing a number of countries, the result was that “violence and oppression” seemed to be driving the growing persecution.
The study authors noted that this information held special significance because of “the rate of decline in the immediate run-up to the period under review.” They did find an exception in their study, but they noted that in that case, things were already so bad in Saudi Arabia that “it could scarcely get any worse.”
In addressing Syria specifically, they wrote that the Syrian Christian population had seen a two-thirds decline over a period of five years. The number of Christians dropped by a staggering 1.2 million to approximately 500,000 remaining in the country.
Aleppo used to have the largest Christian community in Syria, but the population of 150,000 decreased by over 75 percent to 35,000.
“While the exodus was undoubtedly drven by the ongoing civil war, the part played by specific targeting of Christians should not be underestimated,” the Aid to the Church in Need reported. “This would help explain the disproportionate decline in their number as compared with the overall population, which in the case of Aleppo had fallen by perhaps 25 percent in the same period.”
The study also had eye-opening information about Iraq. In two years’ time, beginning in mid-2015, the Christian population dropped from 275,000 to an estimated 150,000.
It is expected that if the decline continues at that same rate, the Christian population will essentially be wiped out by 2020.
Although thousands of families did return to the Nineveh Plains once Daesh was defeated, persecution is still a real and present danger for Christians throughout the Middle East.
“The evidence collected for this report shows that an eradication of Christians, and other minorities, was — and still is — the specific and stated objective of extremist groups at work in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, including Egypt,” Aid to the Church in Need reported. Clearly, H.R. 390 is much-needed relief for a persecuted population.