With Islamic militants waging a "Christian Holocaust'' in Iraq, Congress must stay in session until it passes a new resolution protecting religious freedom, says Mark Arabo, national spokesman for the Iraqi Christian (Chaldean) minority.
"This is a global humanitarian crisis. All the reports we're hearing are confirming our worst nightmare,'' Arabo said Tuesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"This is genocide and we want to make sure that we don't turn the blind eye on a Christian holocaust.''
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The militants — known as ISIS — have threatened Iraqi Christians with death by "the sword" unless they accept Islam or pay a protection fee, triggering a panicked exodus from the northern city of Mosul.
The ultimatum was issued by the Islamic State, which now controls a huge swath of Syria and Iraq, and was read at mosques in Iraq's second-largest city, calling on Christians to convert, pay up or face death.
"Ninety-five percent of Christians have left Mosul. The remaining 5 percent have stayed there and been converted to Islam,'' Arabo said.
"The heartbreaking thing now is Christianity in Mosul is dead. There are no Christians left and right now we're working really hard to get the 400,000 people that are still there … safe passage into Turkey or into Kurdistan.
"But the one issue we're having is ISIS has been taking all the passports, all the property and they burned everything. So when the folks are going to the border they're having a difficult time entering into the region.''
Arabo, president and CEO of The Neighborhood Market Association, said the Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress is now weighing House Resolution 663. It reaffirms the commitments of the House to promote and protect religious freedom around the world and provide relief to minority groups facing persecution.
It also calls on the State Department to work with the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Iraqi central government, neighboring countries, the diaspora community in the U.S, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help secure safe havens for persons claiming amnesty in Iraq.
And the Resolution requests the addition of a Special Representative for Religious Minorities to be included in Prime Minister al-Maliki's newly reconstructed government.
As well, the resolution urges the Obama Administration to expedite the visa processing for Iraq's minority groups and to lift the quota cap for Iraqi-Christians in order to streamline the process of accepting refugees.
"We're asking for the American people to reach out to your members of Congress and tell them, let's pass this resolution … let's give these children and families a chance not just to survive, but to live,'' Arabo said.
"Members of Congress are about to go on a recess in August. We've been clear in telling them, no member of Congress should go on recess until they passed this resolution … We're talking about around 400,000 folks in a region [of Iraq]. They're being persecuted, beheaded, slaughtered, mutilated, raped — and half of them are children.''
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