Date: February 5, 2016
Europe (MNN) — The European Parliament (EP) broke out the “G-word” yesterday, voting unanimously to label the Islamic State’s persecution of Middle East Christians as “genocide.”
(Photo credit: Stephen Melkisethian via Flickr)
It’s a step in the right direction, according to Emily Fuentes with Open Doors USA.
“Historically, it’s rare that we see action on behalf of the international community unless something is labeled ‘genocide,'” she explains.
While the genocide label doesn’t necessarily guarantee action, “It makes it a lot more likely that it’s not going to be something that’s merely talked about, or viewed as a sad event, but might actually have international repercussions and more action.”
Genocide? Europe says “yes”
As the law-making body of the European Union, the EP is responsible for passing laws, overseeing institutions, and approving budgets. Carrying the EP’s “stamp of approval,” the genocide resolution can be brought before the United Nations Security Council for consideration.
As explained here, it is then within the UN Security Council’s power to “authorize use of military force and other diplomatic, humanitarian, and strategic measure to address the crisis.”
“It’s really important that the Parliament passed it, on a political level and a moral level,” Swedish EP official Lars Adaktusson told Newsweek.
“The significance is the obligations that follow such a recognition–the collective obligation to intervene, to stop these atrocities, and to stop the persecution in the ongoing discussion about the fight against the Islamic State.”
Director of European Union advocacy at ADF International, Sophia Kuby, echoes Adaktusson’s thoughts.
“Determined action at the UN on this genocide is long overdue,” she states. “We hope that the clear language that members from all political groups agreed upon in this resolution will accelerate these important next steps and help to save lives.”
Meanwhile, political leaders “across the pond” remain seemingly undecided.
U.S. answer remains to be seen
Despite a push in early December by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the U.S. State Department still hasn’t released any official comments on the genocide issue.
There was talk in late November of a State Department response to ISIS persecution. The U.S. was expected to designate attacks against the Yazidi and other minorities as genocide, but not those targeted against Christians.
Will the U.S. join Europe in designating ISIS atrocities as genocide?
“No U.S. president has ever made genocide prevention a priority,” penned U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, in her 2002 book, A Problem from Hell.
“And no U.S. president has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.”
A video screen grab shows Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren briefing the Pentagon Press Corps on Oct. 21, 2015. Michael Feddersen/U.S. Navy
Other U.S. officials take a more direct stand on the issue. Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, military spokesman Col. Steve Warren claimed, “ISIL doesn’t care if you’re Christian, if you’re Muslim…. We’ve seen no specific evidence of a specific targeting towards Christians.”
However, now that Europe has spoken, “it’s just increasing the likelihood that America will do more to help these Christians and other minorities,” claims Fuentes.
You don’t have to wait for political leaders to act before you help persecuted Christians.
(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)
Through Open Doors, you can encourage fellow believers and help refugees learn about Christ.
“Tthe most important thing, and the #1 thing we hear from our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted, is that we pray for them,” Fuentes reminds.