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The US House of Representatives has voted unanimously to label Islamic State (ISIS) actions against Christians and other religious minorities as ‘genocide’.
A resolution sponsored by Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, was passed by 393-0.
The vote was taken just ahead of a deadline set for the State department to declare whether it too would recognise as genocide the wholesale slaughter of minorities, including Christians, by ISIS. “It is my sincere hope that this trans-partisan resolution will further compel the State Department to join the building international consensus in calling the horrific ISIS violence against Christians, Yazidis and others by its proper name: genocide,” said Congressman Fortenberry.
The State Department is under further pressure on the issue arising from a recent report issued by the US-based Knights of Columbus which details the extent of persecution levelled against Christians among others, as well as offering first-hand accounts from survivors of ISIS slaughters. Additionally, as first reports of the Representatives’ vote were appearing, the mass destruction of books deemed to be ‘Christian’ were being torched by ISIS in a further attempt to ‘cleanse’ its territory of the Christian presence.
Doug Napier, senior counsel and executive director of the Alliance Defending Freedom International, said official recognition of genocide would trigger laws in United Nations to investigate and prosecute offenders, as well as oblige the US to take measures to end the violence.
“The number of Christians has dropped from 2 million to under 1 million in Syria, and from 1.4 million to under 260,000 in Iraq in just a few years,” he said. “The atrocities include assassinations of church leaders, torture, mass murders, kidnapping, sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian and Yazidi girls and women, destruction of churches, monasteries and cemeteries.”