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America is ignoring Christians in the Middle East for fear of ‘crusader army’ label

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The U.S. is wary of being perceived as a “crusader army” so it continues to ignore the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, said rights activist Nina Shea.

Shea, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, shared her critical observation of the U.S. during the International Christian Concern’s (ICC) first annual conference on the persecuted church held last week.

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Shea grabbed the opportunity to share the “complex” she perceived the U.S. government has when it comes to helping Iraqi Christians.

“This was true under the [George W.] Bush administration and more so now that the United States is desperate to avoid the label that we’re a ‘crusader army,'” the publication quoted her as saying.

To prove her point, Shea compared the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s approach toward another religious minority that is also highly persecuted, the Yazidi community. Kerry declared the atrocities carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) terrorist group against the Yazidi people as genocide. However, Shea claimed that signed petitions lodged at Kerry to recognize the same for the oppressed Christian communities only fell on deaf ears.

“In fact, he went to Iraq and gave two speeches a month later and never mentioned the genocide issue,” added Shea. “This is Secretary Kerry, he gave a speech on the anniversary of the Holocaust and said ‘never again must we forget’ and never mentioned the ongoing genocide in Iraq and Syria right now.”

She also highlighted the U.S. response to Syrian refugee resettlement program, where she noted that only about 60 Christians from Syria resettled in the U.S. in the past five years. She said that Christians constituted 10 percent of the Syrian population five years prior the war, yet they comprise less than one percent of the Syrian refugees in America.

“The United States as a government is absolutely indifferent and keeps its distance from oppressed Christian minorities,” Shea declared.

The degree of suffering and the imminent threat suffered by Middle Eastern Christians particularly in Iraq and Syria are well known as several rights groups released studies that revealed alarming reports. Only recently, Minority Rights Group reported that Christian minorities in Iraq face real threats of extinction as the Christian population drastically dropped to under 250,000 currently.

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