(CNSNews.com) – At a press conference to discuss the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), said what is taking place at the hands of the Islamic State is “genocide.”
|Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, spoke about the |
persecution of Christians by Islamic jihadists at FRC headquarters in
Washington, D.C. on March 19, 2015. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)
“Because if we recognize what is happening in Syria and Iraq, we then have a moral and a legal obligation to do something,” Perkins said.
The BBC reported in February that Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, -- who is Syrian and was born in Damascus -- said in 2014 that more than 1,000 Christians had been killed in that country, that entire villages have been cleared, and dozens of churches and Christian centers have been damaged or destroyed.
Perkins said he was calling on American Christians to take a stand against religious persecution both here and abroad and cited the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which requires the United States and, in particular, the State Department, National Security Council and the President of the United States, to take action against violations of the law.
|21 Egyptian Christians, in orange suits, moments before they were beheaded|
with knives by members of the Islamic State. (Photo: IS video)
Perkins also referred to the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crimes of Genocide – joined by 146 countries, including the United States -- that defines genocide as actions “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
“When we look at the definition, according to the Genocide Convention, the definition of genocide – this prohibits the targeting of a religious group for the purposes of killing members; causing serious bodily or mental harm,” said Perkins.
|American journalist James Foley, a Christian, just before he was beheaded|
by an ISIS jihadist. His execution was videotaped and posted
on the Internet. (Photo: YouTube)
“It’s time that we speak up as a country – but our country is only as strong, I believe, as its citizens -- and it’s time that the churches of America make this a priority to pray for, advocate for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities.
“As Christians we stand for the freedom of religion,” Perkins said. “Not just the Christian religion but every human being and their ability to live according to the dictates of their faith.”