November 8, 2016

USA: Despite 'Genocide,' Mideast Christians Wait for Asylum at the Back of the Line. Obama ONLY Allowed 56 Christian Refugees Of First 11,000 Syrians Invited To Live In America, The Rest Were Muslims.

CNS News
written by Jennifer Wishon
Friday November 4, 2016

WASHINGTON -- America has now welcomed more than 13,000 refugees from Syria into the country.

Should the American people have a say in how many refugees are allowed in or get to decide which refugees they want to welcome? Some say it makes perfect sense.

"It's our country, it's our house. We decide to whom to open the doors, we decide to whom to offer a meal and maybe a bedroom. Of course that should go without saying, but it doesn't," Cliff May, President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said.

In his recent article, "Coming to America," May writes that he disagrees with those who want to close off America's borders completely. But thinks prioritizing who gets to come in by considering what's best for America is simply smart policy, especially when you consider that of the first 11,000 Syrians invited to live in America, just 56 of them are Christian.

"Both houses of Congress and the Obama administration have recognized that genocide is taking place in the Middle East. They've designated that there are victims of genocide," May explained to CBN News. "Genocide means whole communities being targeted for extermination."

"It seems to me that once you agree and understand that these communities are facing genocide you need to prioritize those victims and that means they get to the front of the line," he said.

It's inaction that runs counter to U.S. policy, not to mention immoral when you consider the lessons of WWII, Bosnia, and Rwanda. Instead, the United States has designated Christians in Syria and northern Iraq as "suffering" but told them they'll have to get in line. And even that isn't as easy as it may sound.

"They're afraid to go to the camps the U.N. has set up. It's not the U.N.'s fault exactly but they're not protected in those camps from Islamic State infiltrators, from criminal gangs, from other people in the camp who may be hostile to Christians for all sorts of reasons," May said.

Some members of Congress are working to give Christians alternative routes into the United States. In the meantime, allowing more Christian refugees could give Americans peace of mind.

"Al Qaeda, the Islamic State -- these are not equal opportunity employers, they don't employ Christians so it's easier to vet Christians because Christians are not going to come here in order to become suicide bombers for ISIS or al Qaeda. It doesn't work that way," May explained.

The Christian communities in the Middle East now under attack have survived centuries of hardships. May said the idea that they could be wiped out in a generation is "terrible."
CNS News
written by Michael W. Chapman
Monday October 31, 2016

As the Islamic State, insurgents, and government forces battle in Syria, the population of Christians there continues to decline, from 1,250,000 in 2011 to less than 500,000 this year, according to ADF International, which advocates for religious freedom worldwide.

In a sub-report submitted with the report Genocide Against Christians in the Middle East to Secretary of State John Kerry in March, the ADF International details the ongoing genocide of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

It notes that “Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world” and that in at least 104 countries Christians are harassed and persecuted by governments and organizations.

The harassment includes “physical assaults, arrests and detentions, the desecration of holy sites and discrimination against religious groups in employment, education or housing,” reads the report.

Harassment of Christians “was the highest in the Middle East and North Africa (90% of countries),” reported ADF International. In Syria and Iraq, the persecution of Christians is carried out largely by radical Muslims, such as the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, said the ADF.

In Syria, government forces have been fighting against revolutionaries and the Islamic State since March 2011, an ongoing battle sparked by the Arab Spring.

In 2015, Syria’s population was approximately 20 million, said ADF International, and “92.8% of the population was Muslim, 5.2% Christian and 2% other.”

“The population of Christians dropped from 1.25 million in 2011 to as few as 500,000 today,” said ADF International in its report. “It is estimated that in 2015 alone, over 700,000 Christians in Syria sought refuge” in other countries.

Persecution of Christians in Syria is extreme, said the ADF International, and includes the following examples:

“Three Christian men who were executed for refusing to convert to Islam, a Catholic priest who was beheaded by the rebels, at least 15 Assyrian Christians who were beheaded or shot, three Christians who were executed, and at least 10 people who were ordered executed by a self-proclaimed ‘religious court’ for being Christian.”

“In September 2013, 36 Muslim religious leaders issued a fatwa allowing Sunni Muslims to seize the property belonging to Christians or other non-Muslim religious groups. Numerous Christians and Christian religious leaders became victims of kidnappings. Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim are still missing.

“In September 2013, Al Nusra attacked the predominantly Christian town of Maaloula, killing 20 people, abducting 15, and destroying Christian religious places. No Muslims were attacked.

“In October and November 2013, over 1,500 families in the Christian village of Sadad were being held hostage by Al Nusra. 45 people were killed.

“In October 2014 Franciscan Father Hanna Jallouf and 20 Christians were kidnapped by Al Nusra. They were eventually freed.

“In January 2015, it was reported that the Armenian Catholic Father Michel Kayyal and Greek Orthodox Father Maher Mahfouz were killed.

“In February 2015, IS [Islamic State] seized 35 Assyrian Christian villages, kidnapping over 300 Christians. IS released 23 people in March 2015 and demanded £15 million for the release of 230 remaining people. The remaining villagers, amounting to over 1,200, fled to other villages (Hassake and Qamishli), leaving the 35 villages deserted for months. They started returning in June 2015 when Christian and Kurdish fighters took over the villages.

“The exact number of causalities of the Syrian Civil War(and of the Christian victims) is unknown. It is assumed that as of 24 November 2014, 197,378 people were killed (including 62,347 civilians). However, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there may be over 80,000 more deaths that were unrecorded. [Emphasis added.]

“Many people are executed as a result of a death penalty imposed by the extremist groups in breach of the rules of due process and fair trial, and often without any trial at all. Such executions continue and the death penalty is used as a punishment for failing to convert or failing to adhere to Islamic sharia law.

“Furthermore, apart from killings and executions, religious minorities are subject to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, sexual violence, rape, enforced displacement and disappearance.

“No adequate steps have been taken by the Syrian Government to stop the abuse and unlawful executions and to respect the right to life as protected under international law. As a result, SAR [Syrian Arab Republic] is ranked 4th on the 2015 World Watch List, which ranks the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.”

To read the full report, Genocide Against Christians in the Middle East, click here

CNS News
written by y Patrick Goodenough
August 29, 2016

(Update: As of midafternoon eastern time on Monday 224 new Syrian refugee arrivals have been reported. That lifts the total this fiscal year to 10,126, of whom 52 or 0.51 percent are Christians; and 9,945 or 98.2 percent, are Sunni Muslims.)

( – The Obama administration is expected on Monday – a month ahead of schedule – to achieve its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year.

As of late Sunday, 9,902 had been resettled in the United States, but more than 200 more are expected to arrive from Jordan and surrounding areas over the next day. U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells told reporters the 10,000 target announced by President Obama last September will be reached on Monday.

Barring an unlikely last-minute shift, the number of Christians among the 10,000 will be less than half of one percent.

Of the 9,902 before Monday’s arrivals, just 47 (0.47 percent) are Christians, according to State Department Refugee Processing Center data.

The vast majority of the Syrian refugees permitted to resettle in the United States are Sunni Muslims – 9,726 of the 9,902, or 98.2 percent. Another 20 are Shi’a Muslims, and a further 85 are identified in the data simply as Muslims.

The 47 Christians comprise seven Catholics, four Protestants, six Orthodox, one Greek Orthodox and 29 refugees self-reported simply as “Christian.”

Apart from the Muslims and Christians, others admitted during FY 2016 are 14 Yazidis, four Jehovah’s Witnesses, five refugees identified as “other religion,” and one as having “no religion.”

The drawn-out and complex Syrian civil war, which began with a crackdown on dissent in March 2011, has seen numerous act of terror and evident war crimes committed by the Assad regime and its allies, Islamist extremists and other combatants. Millions of Syrians have fled their homeland.

Obama announced last fall that the U.S. would admit 10,000 refugees from Syria during the fiscal year – a six-fold increase from the total 1,682 admissions in FY 2015, which in turn was up from a mere 105 in FY 2014 and 36 in FY 2013.

The initiative took off slowly: By the end of January – one-third of the way through FY 2016 – only 841 Syrian refugees had been admitted.

Obama announced last fall that the U.S. would admit 10,000 refugees from Syria during the fiscal year – a six-fold increase from the total 1,682 admissions in FY 2015, which in turn was up from a mere 105 in FY 2014 and 36 in FY 2013.

The initiative took off slowly: By the end of January – one-third of the way through FY 2016 – only 841 Syrian refugees had been admitted.

Then in February the State Department set up a refugee resettlement “surge” center in Amman, Jordan, drastically reducing application processing times.

Between February and April, Department of Homeland Security officers carried out interviews in Jordan with around 12,000 Syrian refugee applicants referred by the U.N. refugee agency, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard told a briefing earlier this month. She described the screening as “rigorous and exhaustive.”

The “surge” saw the pace of admissions gradually quicken: After just 330 admissions in March and 451 in April, the number jumped to 1,069 in May, 2,406 in June and 2,340 in July.

So far, August has brought a further 2,351 Syrian refugee admissions, but by month’s end on Wednesday the number is expected to exceed 2,600, surpassing June’s monthly record high.

And if the admissions continue at a similar pace, by the time FY 2016 ends on September 30 the year’s total could well exceed 11,000.

‘Religious test’

From the outset, Obama’s proposal drew strong criticism from Republican governors and lawmakers, citing security concerns and fears that radical groups could use the refugee program to infiltrate terrorists into the country – as has occurred in Europe.

Some criticism focused on the miniscule proportion among the successful applicants who are Christians, Yazidis, or members of other minorities that have borne the brunt of atrocities carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) – atrocities which the administration has determined amount to genocide. A Syrian Christian leader estimates that at least one million Christians have fled the country since the conflict began.

Among those calling for greater priority to be given to Christians were former GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, while Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced legislation designed to give priority status to members of religious minorities fleeing persecution at the hands of ISIS or other groups.

Administration officials have largely dismissed the criticism, arguing that an exceptionally tough screening process applies to applicants for refugee status from Syria.

In the case of appeals for more non-Muslims to be included among those admitted; the administration has characterized the calls as un-American.

“When individuals say we should have a religious test and that only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted, that’s offensive and contrary to American values,” Obama said last fall.

In fact, most prominent figures raising the issue have not argued for “only Christians” to be admitted, but rather that as a directly targeted minority, a larger number should be admitted than has been the case.

About 10 percent of Syria’s population is Christian, but fewer than 0.5 percent of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. in FY 2016 are Christians. Over the entire civil war, the proportion of Christians admitted to the U.S. is just 0.8 percent (95 out of a total of 11,775).

Around 74 percent of Syrians are Sunnis, yet the proportion of Sunnis among the Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. in FY 2016 is 98.2 percent, and the proportion since the conflict began in March 2011 is 97.2 percent (11,445 of a total of 11,775).

Obama is due to an international refugee summit at the U.N. in New York in September. He is also expected next month to announce his plans for refugee admissions in FY 2017.

Assistant Secretary Richards said this month she expect the U.S. to “continue to welcome large numbers of Syrians” in FY 2017, but said it was too early to talk about target numbers.

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