NEW HAVEN, Conn., April 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new television commercial from the Knights of Columbus began airing nationwide yesterday, highlighting the ongoing needs faced by Christian victims of genocide in the Middle East. Following, the State Department's recent designation that Christian and other religious minorities face genocide at the hands of ISIS, the U.S. has joined the international consensus on the issue.
However, the commercial points out that persecution and displacement have not abated and the victims remain in dire need of assistance. It quotes Secretary of State John Kerry's March 17 declaration that a genocide is taking place, and that ISIS is "killing Christians because they are Christians."
But as important as the declaration is, the Knights of Columbus makes clear in the ad that the real needs of the people there continue.
"The attacks continue," says the commercial's narrator. "Christians are still being kidnapped, killed and sold into slavery. Relief efforts are sorely needed – your help is sorely needed."
The Knights' commercial concludes with an appeal by Father Douglas Bazi, who heads the Mar Elia refugee center in Kurdistan, and who was himself kidnapped and tortured by terrorists in Iraq. In the commercial, Fr. Bazi notes: "Genocide is an easy word compared to what's happened to my people." He then adds a plea to the viewers:" Help my people and save my people."
The Knights of Columbus began its Christian Refugee Relief Fund in 2014 to aid persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, especially those in Iraq and Syria. To date, nearly $10 million has been raised to provide housing, food, medical aid, education and general relief.
"While we applaud and welcome the genocide designation, it is now vital that we redouble our efforts to assist those who have faced this attempt at exterminating them. The survival of the individuals affected, and of Christianity as a whole in the region, depends in large measure on not turning away now, thinking that ISIS will soon conform to the norms of the international community," said Knights CEO Carl Anderson.
In addition to raising funds, the Knights of Columbus has worked to raise awareness of the persecution via engagement with the media and a petition drive urging the State Department to declare a genocide. The petition drew nearly 150,000 signatures in the days prior to Kerry's announcement.
His rationale for the designation reflected many of the points urged by the Knights and the group In Defense of Christians in its nearly 300-page report made public on March 10.
In testimony in December on Capitol Hill, Supreme Knight Anderson laid out the dangerous, genocidal conditions faced by Christians and others, even within UN refugee camps. Anderson also led a March 10 news conference along with religious leaders, scholars and other experts, pressing for the genocide designation. Four days later, he applauded the unanimous passage by the House of Representatives calling for the genocide declaration and later credited Secretary Kerry for reaching the same conclusion.
The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization, with nearly 1.9 million members worldwide, and it is one of the most active charitable organizations in the United States. The Knights set a new record for charitable giving in its last fraternal year with donations of more than $173.5 million and 71.5 million hours of service to charitable causes, much of it raised and donated by its more than 15,000 councils.
Additional information is available at www.christiansatrisk.org
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SOURCE Knights of Columbus