Conservative Media Figures Whitewash White House Condemnation Of Christian Persecution In Iraq

››› ››› SOPHIA TESFAYE

Conservative media figures have falsely accused President Obama of remaining silent about violence against Christians in Iraq, despite the fact that Obama himself and administration officials have condemned the persecution of Christians on multiple occasions, including when Obama announced U.S. military and humanitarian assistance to religious minorities in Iraq.

Terrorist Group ISIL Targets Religious Minorities Like Christians In Iraq

Brutal Iraqi Terrorist Group Targeting Christians And Religious Minorities. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, or ISIL) is systematically targeting religious minorities and Christians across Iraq, as Vox.com detailed:

ISIS has treated Iraqi minority groups absolutely brutally during its advance.

This has included Christians and other groups, but in early August ISIS began threatening Iraq's Yazidi group, who are trapped in a horrifying plight. The Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority with about 600,000 adherents worldwide. Yazidi religion is often described as a blend between Zoroastrianism and Islam, particularly mystical Sufi Islam, but ISIS calls them "devil-worshippers." 

[...]

Iraqi Christians are also victims of ISIS' march. On August 6, ISIS took Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian town. The town of 50,000 has had limited access to food, power, and water since, and some Christians have been given the "choice" to convert to Islam or be killed. [Vox.com, 8/7/14]

Conservative Media Figures Accuse President Obama Of Remaining "Silent" On Christian Persecution 

Mark Levin: Obama Is "Absolutely Silent When It Comes To The Genocide Of Christians." On the August 13 edition of his radio show, Mark Levin baselessly asserted that President Obama "hasn't spoken out" about ISIS' attacks on Christians beyond "a little hit-and-run press thing": 

LEVIN: We're waiting for your speech, Mr. President. We're waiting for your speech in which you draw the attention of the world to the slaughter of Christians. We're waiting for your speech condemning the IslamoNazis who are doing it. And yet we don't hear it. Why is that? You interject yourself in all kinds of things. You just interjected yourself in Ferguson, Missouri. For better or worse, you did. You interject yourself when some basketball player announces that he's gay. Well, good for you. You interject yourself on all kinds of things, mostly small, but sometimes big. But what about monstrous things? Why are you silent? Why are you absolutely silent when it comes to the genocide of Christians? 'Excuse me, I've sent water, I've sent bombs' -- you haven't spoken out. A little hit-and-run press thing, a little statement before you get on a helicopter on your next vacation. I'm not talking about that. You know how to give a big speech, draw the attention of the world, prime time, night time. Why won't you do it? And he won't do it. [Cumulus Media Networks, The Mark Levin Show8/13/14

Frequent Fox Guest Tony Perkins: "Why Have We Not Been Hearing From Our Own Administration" About Attacks On Christians? Frequent Fox guest and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins accused the Obama administration of ignoring the plight of Christians in Iraq, speaking with host Martha MacCallum on the August 13 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:

PERKINS: Well, Martha, I'd have to say, why have not been hearing from our own administration about this? I mean, we just saw the president in this last weekend, when he did authorize the airstrikes, and make reference to the Yazidis as a potential case of genocide. This genocide has been occurring now for months as it pertains to Christians, and the president still can't bring himself to say that Christians in this region of this world, dating back to the most continuous oldest Christians communities in the history of Christendom, are being systematically killed. The president can't bring himself to say that. Something is wrong, Martha. Something is terribly wrong. [Fox News, The Kelly File8/13/14]

Obama And Administration Officials Have Repeatedly Cited Attacks On Iraqi Christians As Impetus For U.S. Aid

In Primetime Address, Obama Announced Authorization Of Airstrikes In Iraq To Protect Religious Minorities "Including Christians." On August 7, in a primetime address, President Obama announced he had authorized a military and humanitarian effort against terrorists who are committing "barbaric" acts against religious minorities like Christians (emphasis added):

OBAMA: To stop the advance on Erbil, I've directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city.  We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.  We're also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.

Second, at the request of the Iraqi government -- we've begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.  As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis.  And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect.  Countless Iraqis have been displaced. And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women. [WhiteHouse.gov, 8/7/14]

From Address On South Lawn, Obama Cited Efforts To Protect Iraqi Christians From Genocide And Homelessness. In a statement delivered from the South Lawn of the White House on August 9, Obama reasserted the U.S. commitment to protecting religious minorities in Iraq, including Christians, from ISIL (emphasis added):

OBAMA: We will continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces as they battle these terrorists, so that the terrorists cannot establish a permanent safe haven.

We will continue to work with the international community to deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Even as our attention is focused on preventing an act of genocide and helping the men and women and children on the mountain, countless Iraqis have been driven or fled from their homes, including many Christians. [WhiteHouse.gov, Statement By The President On Iraq, 8/9/14]

Press Secretary Josh Earnest: We're Particularly Concerned With Human Rights Offenses Against Iraqi Christians And Yazidis. During the August 7 White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest expressed the administration's concern about the welfare of Christians in Iraq, given ISIL's "deeply disturbing," "callous disregard for human rights": 

EARNEST: The United States strongly condemns ISIL's assault on Sinjar and surrounding areas of northern Iraq. These actions have exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis, and the situation is nearing a humanitarian catastrophe. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are reported to have been displaced, fleeing persecution.  And we are gravely concerned for their health and safety, including the vulnerable ethnic and religious minority communities who have been specifically targeted by ISIL.

The cold and calculated manner in which ISIL has targeted defenseless Iraqis like the Yazidis and Christians solely because of their ethnic and religious identity demonstrates a callous disregard for human rights, and it is deeply disturbing.  In particular, we're concerned about the welfare of the large community of Iraqi Yazidis who are stranded on Mount Sinjar without food, water or shelter, and the Iraqi Christians who have been forced to flee from their villages in the region.  We're deeply concerned about reports that ISIL has abducted as many as several hundred girls from these vulnerable communities.

We're working intensively with the government of Iraq, the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish authorities in the immediate area to support their efforts to address the humanitarian situation in Sinjar. [Whitehouse.gov, 8/7/14]

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