SA churches speak out: Obama says militant siege broken but Iraq mission not over yet
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Member of Parliament, Cheryllyn Dudley, on Monday (August 11, 2014) responded to shocking news reports saying that ISIS militants are carrying out the beheading of children in Iraq, says the ACDP in a media release.
National spokesman for Iraqi Christians and Chaldean-American businessman Mark Arabo last week told CNN’s Jonathan Mann that, “They are systematically beheading children, and mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for a generation. There’s actually a park in Mosul that they’ve actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick”.
Dudley said that she will urgently call on President Jacob Zuma and International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to do everything they can to ensure the global community does not turn a blind eye to this horrendous situation.
“I will also try to make contact with the Ambassador of Iraq in South Africa to find out more about the situation and how SA can be most helpful at this time.
“The ACDP is appalled and heartbroken for families and communities and calls on the world to say NO to Islamic extremism, terrorism and cruelty”, she added.
Boy cut in half, says Anglican leader in Iraq
In one of the growing number of accounts of horror in Iraq, Canon Andrew White — known as the Vicar of Baghdad said ISIS militants brutally killed the young son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican Church during an attack on the Christian town of Qaraqosh last week.
The boy, whose brother was named George after St. George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital, was reportedly cut in half by the militants.
“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” White said. “I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me—he was called Andrew.”
The boy’s father helped found the church in 1998 when White first came to Baghdad.
“This man, before he retired north to join his family, was the caretaker of the Anglican Church,” the canon said.
“This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” explained White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”
ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, a ruthless offshoot of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, captured the town overnight Wednesday/Thursday last week.
“Sunni militants captured Iraq’s biggest Christian town, Qaraqosh, prompting many residents to flee, fearing they would be subjected to the same demands the Sunni militants made in other captured areas: leave, convert to Islam or face death,” Reuters reported today (Thursday, August 14).
The boy’s family—along with many others—has now fled to Irbil, ACNS said. But according to news reports, that could be the Islamic State’s next target.
As the militants take over parts of Iraq, the United Nations has said the nation could be facing a “humanitarian catastrophe.” White said Anglicans are working hard to provide relief to the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh, as well as other minority groups targeted by the Islamic State.
“Anglicans are literally at the forefront of bringing help in this situation, and there’s no one else,” he said, adding that the church is providing food, water, accommodation and other relief items, thanks to financial support from overseas.
SA churches condemn purge of Christians
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa on Tuesday released a statement saying it strongly condemns the purge of Christians in Iraq byIslamic State jihadists
The church says: “The savage and brutal actions constitute a massacre/genocide against the Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac ,Christian and Yazidi peoples of Iraq. These indiscriminate killings and displacement of vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities as a means to establish a caliphate state run under the principles of Sharia and Islamic law are inhumane. The brutality and murder of people can never be justified as a means to an end.
“We also condemn ISIS’s complete disregard for everything democratic and all tenets of domestic and international law as well as basic human freedoms and rights.”
Bishop Siwa President of the SA Council of Churches and Presiding Bishop of the MCSA said: “We call upon all people of faith to stand up and speak out against so great a violation of human rights and dignity; for the international community to act in one accord and condemn in word and deed these savage actions that call to question our very freedoms enshrined in law,” said an enraged
“We pray that conditions will be created for these native populations of Iraq to return to their homes and live a secure life free of discrimination, oppression, persecution and violence. Our thoughts and prayers are especially with the vulnerable; the children, the aged and the infirm; all those who are incapable of escaping this pogrom to find refuge in neighbouring countries.
“May God help us.”
The Catholic Church of Southern Africa said: “It is absolutely abhorrent that the Christian community of Iraq, a tradition that goes back almost 2000 years, is suffering expulsion from their country and martyrdom,” reports News 24.
In a statement released on Monday (August 11), the church says: “”As Catholic bishops of Southern Africa, we beg for religious tolerance in Iraq. We assure our Christian brothers and sisters of our deepest concern and we assure them that we have not and will never forget them.”
The church said it admired many of the great religious teachings of Islam, particularly their care for the poor and needy.
“We call on faithful Muslims who believe in our common humanity to plead with those driven by extremism to cease their oppression of deeply religious communities and to seek that peace which Islam itself endeavours to promote.”
On Monday, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that air strikes aimed at halting the advance of Sunni Islamic State militants in Iraq had been effective and the US was open to further requests for help.
Obama says airstrikes are helping victims
Fox News reports that President Obama announced today that US-led airstrikes have broken the siege by Islamic militants against religious minorities who were trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq — but made clear the US mission in the region is not over yet.
The president, in brief remarks from Martha’s Vineyard where his family is on vacation, said he expects the specific operation at Mount Sinjar to wind down. He said military planners will be leaving in the coming days, aid drops will stop and a US-led evacuation is likely no longer needed.
“The situation on the mountain has greatly improved,” Obama said. “We broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar. We helped vulnerable people reach safety.”
But Obama said US involvement will not come to an end, as militants with the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, or ISIL — continue to brutalize the civilian population in the region, especially minorities like Iraqi Christians and Yazidis.
Obama said “we will continue airstrikes” where necessary to protect American personnel and facilities in Iraq.
And he said the US is working with partners to provide humanitarian aid to “those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities.”