The Corner

No Christmas in Baghdad

As the last of Baghdad and Mosul’s Christian population packs up their cars and flee for their lives — a five-year-long trend, as NRO has noted — the New York Times today has finally taken note. As the piece reports, the Sunni terrorists who claimed responsibility for the horrific bombing of a Baghdad Syriac Catholic church packed with Sunday worshippers earlier this year are vowing to kill Christians “wherever they can reach them.” Moreover, the Shiite government of Iraq is doing next to nothing to protect or support the militia-less Christians

 The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal agency on which I serve, has pointed to the general indifference of Iraq’s government, which “creates a climate of impunity” for these Christians’ attackers. The Iraqi government also discriminates against and marginalizes these victims in the provision of essential government services: Diana Gorgiz, a Christian now finding refuge within the walls of one of Iraq’s ancient monasteries, told the Times that the Iraqi army told her family after an attack on her home in late November, “We cannot protect you.”

The Times reports that more than half of Iraq’s 1.4 million Christians have fled the country since 2003, but this is an estimate the U.N. has cited for years. The actual percentage of Christian refugees is likely far greater. In a reference to the fate of Iraq’s Jewish population, which stands at eight souls, down from a third of Baghdad’s population in the 1940s, the Times reports:

“It’s exactly what happened to the Jews,” said Nassir Sharhoom, 47, who fled last month to the Kurdish capital, Erbil, with his family from Dora, a once mixed neighborhood in Baghdad. “They want us all to go.”

The obliteration from Iraq of its ancient Christian presence — and with it the reality of religious freedom and pluralism — is an unintended consequence of the U.S. invasion but has never been factored in as a U.S. strategic concern. There is no Obama policy, not even a safe-haven or refugee policy, designed specifically to help Iraq’s Christians as they confront religious cleansing.

Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center on Religious Freedom.

Most Popular

World

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Trump’s Syria Quandary

President Trump raised eyebrows recently when he ended a tweet lauding the airstrikes he’d ordered against chemical-weapons facilities in Syria with the words “mission accomplished.” The phrase, of course, became infamous in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, when President Bush used it in a speech ... Read More
U.S.

Confirm Pompeo

What on earth are the Democrats doing? President Trump has nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo, eminently qualified by any reasonable standard, to be America’s 70th secretary of state. And yet the Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, have perverted the advice and consent clause of the Constitution into a ... Read More
PC Culture

The Dark Side of the Starbucks Stand-Down

By now the story is all over America. Earlier this month, two black men entered a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. They were apparently waiting for a friend before ordering — the kind of thing people do every day — and one of the men asked to use the restroom. A Starbucks employee refused, saying the restroom ... Read More