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As Islamic State Steps Up Attacks, Christian Leaders Call for Help

Some Syriac Orthodox religious leaders in Europe have reportedly urged their congregants to go fight Islamic State militants to save their ancestral homeland.

Other clerics, such Father Emanuel Youkhana, who heads the Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, CAPNI, provided practical aid to Syrian Christians.

He told CNS that he was on the Iraqi-Syrian borders where a truck has been sent with relief items, such as medicines, milk and blankets to the Hassake province’s displaced Christians.

Father Rifat Bader, speaking on behalf of Jordan’s Catholic community, said prayers were being offered up for the tragic circumstances unfolding in northeastern Syria and throughout the Middle East.

“The suffering is becoming greater not only for Christians, but the region in general. The whole region is on fire,” said Father Bader, who heads the Catholic Center for Studies and Media.

“The persecution of Christians is rising and a human disaster is unfolding. These groups pretend to be Islamic, but are void of religion. They are filled with cruelty and violence destroying our civilization, whether people or stones,” he said, referring to reports that Islamic State militants are looting and destroying renowned ancient archaeological sites.

“Catholics are praying. We can’t talk about the future without a solution,” Father Bader said, urging that “we must support a political solution to end these attacks.”

In Iraq, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael called on the central government and the international community “to act as soon as possible for the protection of innocent civilians and to offer them the necessary assistance in lodging, food and medication.”

The Islamic State “is burning everything: human beings, stones and civilization,” he said in a 9 March statement.

He said thousands of families have been displaced by the fighting, and he called for an emergency meeting of Iraq’s Council of Ministers and the National Assembly deputies “to discuss this situation that threatens to deteriorate from bad to worse.”

“This is obviously a human catastrophe that cannot suffer any silence,” he said.

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Contributing to this story was Doreen Abi Raad in Beirut.

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Tags: Syria Middle East Christians Violence against Christians War