WASHINGTON, April 19, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In addition to helping stop the genocide of Christians and others now taking place in the Middle East, the United States must act to prevent its recurrence and to assure the future of the affected communities, according to testimony offered to members of Congress by Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus.
"Their future affects not only the fates of Christianity and other minority religions in Iraq and Syria," said Carl Anderson, testifying before Congress' Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on April 19. "It also implicates the national security of the United States."
In the wake of Secretary of State John Kerry's March 17 declaration that a genocide is taking place, Anderson, whose organization produced a nearly 300-page report for the State Department on the ongoing genocide, recommended that U.S. policymakers follow up on the designation by focusing on five key areas.
First, as lands are liberated, he said, proper planning must be in place to assist those evicted by ISIS and those who will flee the military actions that liberate lands under its control. Genocide victims who wish to return to their home areas should be helped to do so.
Second, Anderson argued that genocide survivors who wish to come to the United States must not be put at the back of the line. Of the 1,366 Syrian refugees admitted to this country in 2016, fewer than 3 percent came from the groups targeted for genocide.
"It is wrong to exclude those who faced genocide — often on the basis of bureaucratic oversight," said Anderson.
In his third recommendation for policymakers, Anderson said Christians and other minorities who wish to remain in Iraq and Syria should also be able to do so.
"The United States cannot help defeat ISIS without defeating its genocidal antecedents — the malignant idea that discrimination and second-class status are the lot of religious minorities, and that those who offend Islam, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, must be eliminated," he said.
"If [Christians and other religious minorities] disappear, pluralism and stability leave with them," said Anderson. "Iraq and Syria will at best become unstable majoritarian tyrannies."
Anderson's fourth point was that American legal concepts of equal protection, free speech, freedom of the press and assembly, and the free exercise of religion were critical to achieving real pluralism in the region. He pointed out that such principles were also contained in the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Finally, we must help create the interpersonal relationships that bind society together," said Anderson, who cited Northern Ireland and South Africa as places where deep divisions gave way to peaceful reconciliation. A spirit of forgiveness already articulated by the Christians of the Middle East could form the basis for a commission of reconciliation and mercy, according to Anderson.
"Peace, equality and stability, rather than religious terrorism and genocide, can be the legacy of these countries and of our involvement there," said Anderson. "Our leadership can help these societies, the Middle East and the security of the American people."
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SOURCE Knights of Columbus