March 6, 2017

Statement of Nina Shea, director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, in light of the March 6 Executive Order, which drops prior version’s refugee section on religious persecution of minorities:

Nina Shea

“There’s a dire need for Pres. Trump to issue a separate executive order -- one specifically aimed to help ISIS genocide survivors in Iraq and Syria.  For three years, the Christians, Yizidis and others of the smallest religious minorities have been targeted by ISIS with beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture and sexual enslavement. One year ago, on March 17, 2016, ISIS was officially designated as responsible for this “genocide” by the State Department. Nevertheless, the UN marginalizes these minorities, not only from Syrian refugee resettlement referrals,  but from other UN programs substantially funded by the U.S.: Iraqi humanitarian aid programs, Nineveh reconstruction assistance plans and its refugee camps, which, region-wide, have been allowed to become dens of religious persecution in which few minority refugees dare enter.  Even if ISIS is routed from Mosul, the Christian community is now so shattered and vulnerable, without Pres. Trump’s prompt leadership, the entire Iraqi Christian presence could soon be wiped out.”

EU Parliament: Weber (EPP), “Christians persecuted all over the world. must be protected”                           

(Strasbourg) “The persecution that Christian have to endure all over the world is more and more worrying”: this has been stated by Manfred Weber, head of the People’s Party Group in Strasbourg, as he commented on the fact that tomorrow afternoon the European Parliament, gathered in its plenary meeting, will hold a debate about such subject with the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini. “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. One million Christians had to flee Syria alone. Attacks on churches and communities, as it recently happened in Egypt, are multiplying”. Weber states that the European Parliament “must give a strong message”, so that the communities, that are above all in the Middle East and in Africa, are really protected.

Should America’s Refugee Policy Put Persecuted Christians First?

David Curry, Nina Shea, Matthew Soerens, and Jeremy Courtney

Four Christian experts offer their take on Trump’s controversial plan.

Under President Donald Trump’s new executive order, religious minorities claiming persecution will take priority over other applicants once the refugee program resumes.  Last weekend on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Trump indicated that the policy will particularly advantage persecuted Christians from the Middle East:

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Most Democrats Think Christians in Muslim World Treated Better Than Muslims in U.S.

Matthew Archbold  

This is what happens when ideology clashes with reality.

This is disturbing for so many reasons.

A majority of Democrats believe that Muslims are mistreated in the United States because of their faith, but fewer say the same thing about Christians living in the Islamic world, a new poll shows. Fifty-six percent of Democrats told Rasmussen that Muslims living in the U.S. are mistreated because of their faith while only 46 percent believe Christians in the Islamic world are persecuted over their faith.

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IRAQ: A FORGOTTEN HOPE  (Part of: The Justice Film Festival October 6–8, 2017)

Director: Joel Parker                       

The Middle East is an ancient land with a complicated narrative. Today in Northern Iraq, the story seems muddier than ever. A modern evil has brought devastation and genocide, pushing some of Iraq’s oldest people groups to the verge of extinction. In an effort to make sense of the story, host Mark Foreman meets with ethnic minorities, ISIS survivors, and political and religious leaders. 

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The lessons of Roosevelt’s failures   
Caroline B. Glick

The current media and left-wing uproar over the executive order US President Donald Trump signed on Saturday is extraordinary on many levels.     

 Is US President Donald Trump the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Does his immigration policy mimic Roosevelt’s by adopting a callous, bigoted position on would-be asylum seekers from the Muslim world? At a press conference on June 5, 1940, Roosevelt gave an unspeakably cynical justification for his administration’s refusal to permit the desperate Jews of Nazi Germany to enter the US.

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TUCKER with Piers Morgan: American Media Don't Care About Palm Sunday Egypt ISIS Attacks - But They Should


In the birthplace of Christianity, Christians and other minorities are being persecuted, driven and wiped out, and their places of worship are being destroyed.  Faithkeepers gives face and voice to the humanitarian crisis and genocide affecting millions in  the Middle East as a result of religious and ethnic persecution.  The film is a testament to the stories of the persecuted and an inspiring portrait of the human spirit.  Using personal testimonies and original animation, the film exposes daily life for those  facing violence and expulsion. 
Faithkeepers – the movie and the movement – will awaken, enlighten and inspire all people of faith to stand up and take action.

Palm Sunday attacks: 44 dead, more than 100 injured in Coptic church bombings carried out by ISIS 

FOX News               

Egypt's president called for a three-month state of emergency Sunday after at least 44 people were killed and more than 100 more were injured in two Palm Sunday suicide attacks at Coptic Christian churches, each carried out by the ISIS terror group.  Sunday's first blast happened at St. George Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, where at least 27 people were killed and 78 others wounded, officials said.  

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Cardinal Dolan Leads Good Friday Mass at Coptic Church

By NY1 News                                      

Religious leaders gather on the Upper East Side as a show of solidarity in the face of last weekend's terror attacks in Egypt.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan led Good Friday services at Our Lady of Peace on 62nd Street, a Coptic Christian Church.   A Greek Orthodox archbishop, an Armenian orthodox archbishop and a rabbi also came out to pray for peace.

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Egypt's Battle Against Islamic Extremism

By Shireen Qudosi
For a Western audience, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is a complex figure, who was shunned by the Obama administration. There appear truly pressing, immediate priorities in Egypt, such as developing the economy and combating the avalanche of extremist attempts to overthrow him. Among Middle East and North African territories, Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam.  

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‘Record-Breaking’ Number of Migrants Crossing Mediterranean This Easter

By Nick Hallett                                   

The charity said the situation had been a “24 hours marathon of continuous rescue operations” in what was “set to be the latest marker in the record-breaking escalation of this on-going humanitarian crisis at sea”.

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How to Help Iraq’s Religious Minorities

By Nina Shea (Nina Shea is a Board Member of TAS)                       

Trump should undo an Obama policy that largely blocks them from getting U.S. aid. 

As Islamic State heads toward defeat in Iraq, Christian and Yazidi survivors of genocide should be returning to their hometowns in Nineveh province. Instead, these fragile minority communities mostly remain stranded at displacement shelters in Kurdistan without the means to rebuild their villages. Many are fleeing Iraq, and the country now risks losing these religious minorities entirely. The Trump administration is making the situation worse by continuing Obama policies that effectively exclude these non-Muslims from U.S. aid in Iraq.

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Coptic Christians: Islamic State’s ‘Favorite Prey’

By SAMUEL TADROS                             

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive. Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

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Trump, Egypt and the future

By Judith Miller                           

The Palm Sunday bombings of Coptic churches in Egypt are a tragedy for Egyptian Christians, the Middle East’s oldest and largest Christian community and for all Egyptians who oppose the Islamic State’s intolerance and terror.  But this calamity has political benefits for Egypt’s beleaguered President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. The twin suicide bombings, the worst terror attack against Egypt’s Christians since 28 people were killed near St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo last December, have not only helped el-Sisi cement ties with President Trump, but they have given him even greater latitude to crack down on opponents of his policies. 

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Cardinal says world leaders sidestepping persecution of Christians

By Christina Leslie                         

Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien told Catholics gathered for Mass and a symposium in the Metuchen Diocese that “the enormity of today’s modern Christian genocide is possibly the worst and bloodiest in church history.” “The situation in Africa, Asia and the Middle East is conveniently sidestepped by the world’s leaders, even those in Washington,” the cardinal said in his homily during the Aug. 8 Mass at St. Brigid Church in Peapack. “We give God thanks for the grace that continues to nourish and strengthen them.”

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For Iraqi Christians After Islamic State, Hope Amid the Ruins
By Lauren Ashburn                                  

Christian towns in Iraq’s Kurdistan region show both heartbreaking damage and signs of resilience

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Bill to Aid Christian Genocide Victims in Iraq Advances in Senate

Posted by Matt Hadro/CNA/EWTN News                       

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee on Tuesday voted to advance a bill that seeks to ensure U.S. aid reaches Christian genocide victims in Iraq.   “The vote from this morning is an important step toward providing relief for those victims of the genocide committed by ISIS,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, one of the sponsors of H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017.   Christians in Iraq who were forcibly displaced from their homes by the expansion of Islamic State in 2014, many of whom have been living in Iraqi Kurdistan, have been dependent on the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil and aid groups like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need for basic needs like rent, heating and food.

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Egypt attack on Coptic Christians: Wake up, President Sisi! ISIS is murdering your Christian children

By Lela Gilbert                         

The first thing I read on Friday morning was that 28 Egyptians in the Sinai had been murdered by terrorists, with more than 20 others wounded. And my first thought was clear and to the point:  Maybe this will finally wake up the Egyptian authorities.  The grisly attack, carried out with firearms, took place on an isolated road in the Sinai desert – a sparsely populated region of Egypt where some believe ISIS is setting up a new base of operations in the wake of their losses in Iraq and Egypt.

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Christianity in Iraq is finished, says Canon Andrew White, 'vicar of Baghdad'

Hollie McKay                 

He is one of the world’s most prominent priests, but Canon Andrew White – known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” – has reached a painstaking conclusion: Christianity is all but over in the land where it all began.  “The time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some stay Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited,” White told Fox News this week. “The Christians coming out of Iraq and ISIS areas in the Middle East all say the same thing, there is no way they are ever going back. They have had enough.”

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Father Benedict Kiely on the Plight of Christians in Northern Iraq   


As we work to eradicate ISIS, Iraq's Christians, Yizidis need our help now more than ever

Nina Shea

Three years ago ISIS began attacking Iraq's Christians and Yizidis in an onslaught of rape, murder and ruin that was properly designated as “genocide” on March 17, 2016 by the State Department.  Now, as their hometowns in Iraq’s northern Nineveh Province become liberated in an ongoing coalition offensive, a few brave Christian and Yizidi genocide survivors are straggling back to the rubble that was once their homes and businesses.  The next six months will be the moment of truth for them. 

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Strengthening the ties between the United States, United Kingdom, and the English speaking world.

In Egypt, Meeting with Sunni Muslim Leaders, Pope Francis Must Speak Up
By  Nina Shea                               

He should ask them to define and clarify key Islamic terms that terrorist groups use to recruit members.

On Friday, Pope Francis travels to Egypt, the largest Arab country and home to the Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community. His principal purpose is to take part in an interfaith dialogue with Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, who heads el-Azhar, the ancient center of Sunni Muslim learning. Begun 20 years ago, this dialogue effort is best known for Tayeb’s breaking it off in 2011, after he faulted Pope Benedict XVI for an “unacceptable interference” in Egypt’s internal affairs. 

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Christianity's prospects of surviving in its birthplace are grim

By Perry Chiaramonte                                         

Prospects of Christianity surviving in its birthplace, the Middle East, appear as grim this Holy Week as they have at any time in the last two millennia.  Persecution of the world’s largest religion has intensified throughout the 20th century and that trajectory has only intensified in recent years, especially in Muslim-dominated countries. Jihadists appear to have repeatedly carried out one of their oft-stated goals of erasing any trace of Christianity in some regions, while in others persecution against Christians and other religious minorities are being held at bay — for now.

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The US Must Do More for Minority Faiths Facing Genocide Abroad

Nina Shea

The fact that President Trump’s executive order allows the government to prioritize individual claims of religious-based persecution from religious minorities—whether Christian, Yazidi, Jew, Muslim, Bahá’í, Buddhist, etc.—should be welcome news to every Christian and everyone concerned with human rights and religious freedom.

ISIS has waged genocide against Christians and other minorities for nearly three years. The terror group carried out its slogan, “We will break your crosses and enslave your women,” with literal precision against the ancient Christian community of several Middle Eastern countries. The Yazidis, another ancient religion, saw ISIS abduct more than 3,000 of its women and girls for sexual enslavement, and mass graves of their men are now being unearthed.

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Next few months will decide Christians’ fate in scarred Iraq, says official

By Mark Pattison - Catholic News Service             

The next few months will determine whether Iraqi Christians can return to their homes in areas where Islamic State had been routed, according to Msgr. John E. Kozar, international president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Msgr. Kozar, who was in Iraq March 31-April 5, cited several daunting challenges for Iraqi Christians who return to their country: infrastructure woes, burned- and bombed-out buildings, desecrated churches and security issues.

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Juliana Taimoorazy responds to Islamist Terrorist Attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt today

By Iraqi Christian Relief Council                            

CHICAGO, IL, May 26, 2017 -- "This morning in Egypt, ISIS made good on its promise to attempt to divide the country by mercilessly slaughtering Coptic Christians.  On behalf of the Assyrian community in the US and the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Coptic families who lost children in this despicable act of terror committed this morning in Egypt by barbarians in the name of the so-called "Caliphate". Christians across the Middle East are under attack.  The outcry from the church in the US should be deafening, yet it is not.  Rather the silence is deafening.  It is time for the Church in the West to speak up and take action.  If we do not act now, there will soon be no Christians left in the Middle East.  Shame on us if we allow this to happen on our watch.  Let us send a clear message of solidarity to our brothers and sisters persevering through this persecution.  'We hear you.  We love you.  We will not rest until you are able to worship in peace.' Let this short docudrama, Sing a Little Louder, be a reminder to us of the Church's inaction during the Holocaust.  This is not the first time the Church has turned a blind eye to genocide.  There is still time to act, but with each new attack, that window closes."

House OKs bill to aid genocide victims; Senate urged to act quickly on it 

By Josephine von Dohlen  - Catholic News Service                          

The co-authors of a House bill that will provide humanitarian aid to Christians and other religious groups suffering at the hands of Islamic State militants praised the June 6 House passage of the measure and urged the Senate to quickly act on it.   The House unanimously approved the bipartisan Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act, or H.R. 390, in a voice vote.   Co-authored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, the bill will provide emergency relief and aid to the victims of genocide in Iraq and Syria, particularly the Christians in the Middle East as well as other religious minorities.

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Middle East – and not even a visit from the Pope can convince them to stay

By Robert Fisk                                

In the British mandate of Palestine, the Christian population was 9.6 per cent of the population. By 1999, it was 2.9 per cent. Meanwhile, 35 per cent of the Christians of the West Bank and Gaza left between 1967 and 1999

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The continuing tragedy of Egypt’s Coptic Christians

By Samuel Tadros                         

La Ilaha illa Allah. Al Massih howa Allah. (There is no God but God. Christ is God.)    These extraordinary words were chanted by angry Copts in the Egyptian province of Minya who gathered to welcome the bodies of their newest martyrs after a gruesome attack by Islamic State jihadists on Friday that left 29 people dead.

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Florida rally designed to support persecuted Christians

Kathryn Jean Lopez

The site of this event is so connected to the mission of this festival because it was on this “holy acre” where the first Mass of the United States was said and where seven Servants of God of La Florida were martyred for their faith. Also, the Shrine to Our Lady of La Leche at Mission Nombre de Dios is where the first Marian shrine in the U.S. was founded and this devotion to Our Lady is one of comfort, healing, and restoration.

What a perfect place to pray for the persecuted Church and their aggressors!

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Secularism Is No Match for Radical Islam

Benedict Kiely                

It falls to Christian leaders everywhere to work and advocate for their co-religionists in the Middle East.    

​Trudging around the ruined Church of St. Addai, in the empty Christian town of Karemlash, I saw clearly where radical Islamic extremism leads. This was only days before the attack on Westminster in London on March 22. With broken glass underfoot and the walls of the Church blackened after ISIS firebombed it, perhaps the most powerful symbol I came across in Karemlash was the defaced Cross. 

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Letter to the Vice President Regarding Relief and Coordination for Victims of Genocides

By Frank R. Wolf, Nina Shea                         

Thank you for your leadership on the issue of Christians, Yizidis and other religious minority communities targeted for genocide by ISIS.  We took heart from your clear assertions last spring that religious freedom is an American foreign policy priority and that the administration would stand up for these severely persecuted religious groups. As coalition forces liberate Middle Eastern territory from ISIS, we are compelled to beseech you to take two urgently-needed steps to preserve these minority communities in Iraq from likely imminent extinction.