Montreal, Canada

The European Parliament recognizes the genocide against Christians – “It is a beginning – but it’s still not enough”


European-parliament-strasbourg-insideMontreal, Thursday February 4, 2016 – “MEPs urge the international community to take urgent action to counter the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh, in a resolution voted on Thursday,” states a Press Release by the European Parliament. “These violations amount to “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC),” they add. In the resolution passed today, the MEP’s are called on to take measures to protect all religious and minority groups against ISIS attacks.”


“This is excellent news,” reacts Marie-Claude Lalonde, national director of the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to the announcement. The international organization has been alerting the world for many years about this tragic phenomenon and no longer hesitates to speak of genocide when it is question of Christians in the Middle East, particularly in the case of the two countries affected by the resolution – Syria and Iraq.


“Thanks to ACN, numerous bishops in the Eastern World – led by Msgr Louis Sako, the leading Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq – were able to on many occasions meet with European deputies in order to sensitize them to the tragedy being lived by Christians and other religious minorities in this region, the cradle of Christianity.


I hope that the resolution adopted today will snowball in other countries in the West.”  She underlines that there are 28 countries under the European Parliament who now affirm that the present violence is beyond a shadow of a doubt – genocide.


“It is a beginning, but it still isn’t enough,” she considers. “In order for the international community to really move in favour of minorities, countries like Canada must recognize the scope of this tragedy. It is good to welcome refugees, but what are we doing for the thousands of people who cannot leave, who are threatened by death, torture and multiple acts of violence, simply for being from a different religion?”


Wednesday, Mrs Lalonde sent a letter in this vein to the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, the minister of foreign affairs, Stéphane Dion and the ambassador of Canada for religious freedom, Andrew Bennett. “As an organization highly preoccupied with religious freedom and the persecution of Christians, we are calling on you to join Canada’s voice to that of Europeans and take position, publicly, to defend the rights of the minority Christians – and other religious minorities – of Iraq and of Syria.”


Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) support Christian communities where there is persecution as a result of their faith for over 50 years now.  Behind the Iron Curtain, its founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten, helped Christians who could no longer practice their faith freely because of the communist regime.  “Today, the work continues in a different way, while it is especially religious extremist who create, in every way, exclusion leading to persecution,” concludes Marie-Claude Lalonde and then adding: “with 200 million Christians* in the world who cannot freely practice their faith, unfortunate, our work is far from being over.”


* Since 2009, the ACN report on religious freedom has remained consistent on this subject.





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