Dear President Obama,
We the undersigned write you with particular urgency regarding the plight of Christian refugees in the Middle East.
According to a report in The Hill newspaper, the United States is preparing to accept 9,000 Syrian Muslim refugees, but according to this same report “there are no Christian refugees that will be admitted.” If this report is true, we wish to express our deepest concern and urge you to reconsider this troubling policy.
Christians in Syria and Iraq have been targeted by radical Islamist groups and have been subject to rape, kidnapping, torture and unspeakable acts of brutality. I urge you to provide immediate assurances that Christians are not being discriminated against or excluded in any way in our refugee settlement programs.
As you may know, Pope Francis, the United States Bishops, as well as Christian leaders around the world have declared what is happening to Christians in the Middle East an unmistakable crime of genocide. Reflecting on the dire situation of Christians in the Middle East, Pope Francis said: “The persecution of Christians today is even greater than in the first centuries of the Church, and there are more Christian martyrs today than in that era.”
We call upon the State Department to include Christians in a future Middle Eastern Genocide Declaration. This is an essential first step in giving these persecuted Christians real aid and relief as they flee the scourge of ISIS and other terrorist groups.
Furthermore, in the upcoming UN-sponsored peace talks between the Assad government and the anti-Assad opposition, there is no participant who will represent the interests of the one million Christians still living in Syria. We call on your administration to demand that Christians be represented in these negotiations which will determine the future of Syria.
The plight of Christians in the Middle East can no longer be dismissed or forgotten.
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