The Knights of Columbus has released a lengthy report detailing the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities at the hands of ISIS in the Middle East. For the Catholic fraternal organization, the report serves as a wake-up call for the U.S. government to declare the persecutions as genocide.
In the report the KoC included the names of 1,131 Christians that were murdered in Iraq from 2003 to 2014. It also noted that during that same period, a total of 125 churches were attacked by supporters if the terrorist organization, according to Gazette. However, actual figures might be higher since these only refer to the identified victims of ISIS.
Carl Anderson, the CEO of KoC, said that the organization believes that other religious groups are also being persecuted in the Middle East. But, he stressed that the U.S. government should still consider Christians in the region as victims of genocide.
"The United States government should not exclude Christians from such a finding," he said during a press conference held this week. "Doing so simply would be contrary to the facts."
Genocide Watch chief Gregory Stanton joined Anderson during the conference to support the findings of the report.
"The truth is, the word's moral force is the reason for this word to be used," he said about the use of the term genocide.
Another individual who joined Stanton and Anderson in the panel was Douglas Bazi, who experienced first-hand the violent actions of ISIS, Fox News reported. According to Bazi, after he was kidnapped by the militant group, he was tortured by its members. He noted that aside from forcing him to watch as his church was destroyed, his captors also used a hammer to bash in his teeth.
Bazi then said that Christians in the Middle East feel like they are being abandoned as the U.S. officials continue to avoid labeling the situation as genocide.
Members of the panel also agreed that due to the growing number of violent cases of persecution, the Christian population in Iraq is dangerously dwindling. They said that before the conflicts began, there were about two million Christians living there. But now, there are only less than 300,000 Christians in the country. Many of them left after being forced out of their homes by ISIS.