Iraqi religious minorities are persecuted; official commission takes notice

The Voice of America reports today:

In a new report on Iraq, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says religious minorities in Iraq face persecution. The commission, which recommends that the U.S. government designate Iraq a country of particular concern because of religious freedom violations, issued its findings in a news conference on Capitol Hill.  

The commission says small minorities, such as Chaldo-Assyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis, continue to experience targeted violence, threats and intimidation, forcing many people to flee to other areas in Iraq or become refugees.

Its report says these minorities are even more vulnerable because Iraq’s government has been unable to provide effective protection to religious communities or investigate violations.

It’s a complicated issue and the commission members disagree on how much the Iraqi government is responsible, or able to do anything about it. But this much is clear:

But it is the smaller religious groups, lacking their own militia or tribal structures, that have become caught in the middle of what the report calls a struggle between the central Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government for control of northern areas.

It’s been a problem all along that the Muslims of all sects have militias, but the Christians don’t. Thus they are easy prey. There was some talk a few months ago about forming Christian militias, but I guess nothing came of it. So unlike the vast majority of Iraqis, the Christians (and other religous minorities) are totally dependent on outside forces for protection.

The commission makes several proposals:

The commission recommends that a special U.S. envoy be appointed to coordinate U.S. human rights policy in Iraq, while other proposals are aimed at helping the estimated four million Iraqi refugees and the internally-displaced.

Commissioner Richard Land says these include expanding U.S. and Iraqi government financing for refugees through the United Nations, and urging U.S. allies to increase their assistance, along with another step designed to assist religious minorities.

“Amend the U.S. refugee admissions program’s new P-2 category to allow Iraq’s smallest most vulnerable religious minorities direct access to the program,” he said.

Four members dissented from the recommendation that Iraq, previously on the religious freedom watch list, now be designated a country of particular concern. They asserted that the Baghdad government’s actions, complicity or willful indifference in violations were not sufficiently established.

Commissioners emphasize there is no disagreement when it comes to the plight of religious minorities, saying the main difference involves the question of whether Iraq’s government has the capacity and willingness to act.

The commission’s main overall message for the incoming Obama administration is that the United States must keep religious freedom and other fundamental human rights at the top of the agenda.

It’s good to see attention given to the problem of the religious minorities, and the recommendation to give Christians and other religious minorities special status in the refugee program, something which the State Department has resisted.

But I can’t help wondering whether we wouldn’t help them more if our soldiers could arm and train some Christian men. I just can’t believe the Iraqi government has the will or the ability to protect the minorities. If the Christians want to stay — and some have said they do — they should learn to defend themselves. If they don’t do that, I think they’ll all end up leaving and these ancient communities, descended from the very earliest Christians, will be scattered over the earth.

Hat tip: Blulite Special

Hugh Fitzgerald and Wafa Sultan on Colin Powell

I think its important for readers to be aware of the growing controversy over former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s comments regarding Islam in the press conference in which he threw his support to Barack Obama.   However, I don’t have the energy tonight to explain all this to you, but go here (Jihad Watch) and read Fitzgerald’s  post.

Here is how Wafa Sultan began recently in an article entitled, “Contemplating Islam:”

There was an episode during the current Presidential election that greatly disturbed me. It was former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s interview on “Meet the Press.” For me this interview was a defining moment. He expressed his displeasure at some of his colleagues’ accusations that Obama might be a Muslim, and stated: “And what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim?”

Continue reading.

Romania taking Sudanese refugees from Iraq

This is the first time I have read that Sudanese refugees were in Iraq, but according to this article they have been there since the 1980’s.   Was Saddam importing slave workers who are being persecuted just as Saddam’s Palestinians are persecuted by those now on top of the heap in Iraq?  Does anyone know?

GENEVA (AFP) — Nearly 100 Sudanese refugees mainly from Darfur have left a makeshift camp in the Iraqi desert for Romania as part of a resettlement programme, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday.


The 97 refugees fled Sudan in the late 1980s, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement.

But their situation worsened dramatically in Iraq after the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003, when they suffered “abuse, blackmail, eviction and assaults.”

The right to choose: Somalis move from packing plant to packing plant

This is just another update from the Greeley Tribune about the Somalis fired at the Swift meatpacking plant last fall during a dispute over prayer breaks. (Hat tip:  Blulitespecial)  If you are a new reader, we have a whole category on this long and convoluted subject here.

As we mentioned previously, workers who walked off the job at Swift after being denied the exact times they wanted to pray were given an opportunity to return to work, some did, some didn’t.    Those who did not, were fired.   Some of the fired workers are looking for a monetary settlement according to their lawyer.

At least 90 of the fired workers are seeking an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission review of claims of harassment and discrimination at JBS Swift. They have retained Denver attorney Diane King to file the complaints.

“This is a particularly vulnerable population,” she said. “They’re recent immigrants. They don’t speak the language. They look different, and they don’t have a religion that’s a mainstream religion in this country. So, they’re particularly vulnerable.”

King said she’s not sure how long it will take the EEOC to make a ruling. She believes her Greeley clients have a good case and should be entitled to a “some monetary compensation” for lost wages after being fired.

One worker, happily settled down the road apiece, says he prefers Cargill to Swift.  When I saw this information that some Muslims stayed at Swift, I wondered what that says for their legal case.   Obviously the Swift plant is not discriminating since some Muslims are staying there.

Haji (Abdikarim, the subject of this article) bears no grudge against Muslims who chose to stay at the Greeley plant. He’s not going out of his way to try to recruit East Africans in Greeley to Fort Morgan.

“Everybody has their own mind and belief,” Haji said. “If they ask me, yeah (he’ll speak positively of Cargill). If they don’t, I’m not going to brag about it. It depends on the people. Some people might think Swift is good for them. Some might think Cargill is good for them. Everybody has an option.”

Yup, that’s America, everybody does have an option!

By the way, I was interested to see mention in this article that Haji arrived in Greeley and was hired by Swift  just weeks before the big walkout.   Notice that so did Somali community organizer Graen Isse; now isn’t that a coincidence?

The flow of Somali refugees into the US has been slowed dramatically by the suspension of the family reunification program (P-3) of the US State Department after the Department learned that Africans were commiting immigration fraud on a large scale.   The Tribune does its readers a disservice by continuing to print that all Somalis arrived in the US legally.