All-Star Panel: Reaction to ISIS persecution of Christians in Iraq

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 22, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We condemn in the strongest term the systematic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities by ISIL. These are abominable acts. We are very clear that they only further demonstrate ISIS mission to divide and destroy Iraq. And they have absolutely no place in the future of Iraq.

ZAID QREQOSH ISHAQ, DISPLACED IRAQI CHRISTIAN (via translator): They told to us grab our things and so we packed our bags and we left. On our way we had to go through an area where they had set up a checkpoint. They asked us to get out of the car. We got out. They took our things and our bags, our money, everything we had on us.

ISHAQ LAZAR GAGO, DISPLACED IRAQI CHRISTIAN (via translator): The future, I don't know what is going to happen to us. Our future is uncertain. Our house is now gone. They took it and put it under their name. They wrote "Islamic State" on it. Now what?


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The terror group ISIS in Iraq given ultimatum, 72 hours for Christians to get out, among others. And here is Human Rights Watch Middle East director saying, "ISIS is carrying out a vicious campaign against minorities in and around Mosul. Being Turkman, a Shabak, a Yazidi, or a Christian in ISIS territory can cost you your livelihood, your liberty, or even your life.  We're back with the panel. Charles, what about this?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, this is a tragedy happening all across the Middle East.  Christians have been under pressure in Lebanon. Their population is way down. In Egypt, the Copts have been attacked for years now. This is now the worst instance of this.

But this reveals the essence of jihadism. Isolationists here in the U.S., starting with, say, Ron Paul among others, would say, well, 9/11 was a result of stuff we did to offend, to oppress, whatever Muslims, at least in part. It was a retaliation. Now you look at what ISIS is doing. What was the crime of the Christians against ISIS? None. This is the purest ethnic cleansing. This is the pure essence of the intolerance and the barbarism of this kind of Islamic radicalism.

A week before, a month before 9/11, the Taliban went into the desert and destroyed 1,400-year-old magnificent statues of the Buddha. Were the Buddhists oppressing the Muslims in Afghanistan? No. This is the hatred of the other. The total exclusive -- this is the stuff Europe hasn't seen in 400 years. This is the Medieval killing of one sect of another. And it is the essence of Islamic jihadism. You see it here in the purest way. You see it with Hamas. It wants to wipe out the Jews. You see it in Egypt with the Copts. You see it in Boko Haram with the attack on the churches in Nigeria. It's all over. This is not about what the West has done, this is not about imperialism. This is not a payback. This is the expression of jihadism, and we see it tonight in the most horrible form.

BAIER: Ethnic cleansing, Ron, does it change the equation about whether to act in Iraq or not for this administration?

RON FOURNIER, SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST, NATIONAL JOURNAL: It's hard. I mean, first, this is one of the unintended consequences of the invasion. Ironically, a lot of these Christians were doing better under Saddam Hussein, and with the U.S. invasion they fled north to Syria and different parts of Iraq. But look, there is no equivalence obviously between what the Christians are going through and what is happening on our border, but I will say, for the same reason why we can't let every, you know, down-beaten, persecuted, violence ridden child to from Latin America come into America, America can't do everything to save every Christian. This is a horrible thing that's happening, and the United States only has so much power.

BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, look, I mean, I think that this is something that's been going on for a long time, like Charles said. There's an Islamist slogan, first the Saturday people then the Sunday people, meaning first we kill all the Jews then we kill all the Christians. That is what is going on throughout the Middle East. Christian persecution in particular has gotten much, much worse. Pew had something out saying that it's in 130 countries Christians are persecuted. There's another survey showing that Christian martyr deaths have doubled just in the last year.

So, this is a real problem. And it's unfortunately there is -- it's not -- you asked him about whether or not having more troops there would help. The same exact thing happened in the Dora neighborhood in Baghdad.

BAIER: Not necessarily troops. I'm saying any additional military action beyond what the administration is considering now, does it change the equation is what I asked.

POWERS: Yes. I think that right now the biggest issue is getting these people humanitarian aid and resettlement aid and Congressman Fortenberry tomorrow is going to introduce a resolution calling on the U.N. to do that because they have lost everything and they are never going to get it back.  And so I think that -- and then there are other things the U.S. could be doing. Primarily, Saudi Arabia is the main problem because they are the ones who sort of foment all of this through their education, through their textbooks. The U.S. needs to be putting more pressure on them. But I think immediately it's a humanitarian issue.

KRAUTHAMMER: But apart from the military thing, which we cannot affect in any way, it's going to be in the hands of the Iraqi army. It will succeed or it won't. But, what we can do -- where is the president on this? This is persecution of Christians who predate the Muslims by 600 years in the Middle East. These people in Mosul were there before there was Islam in the same way that the Jews of Baghdad were about a third of the population in the late 40s were expelled who were there 1,000 years before that.

This is the exclusivity of this kind of radicalism. Where is the president? He talked about how disrespectful we were to Muslims in many of his speeches. Where is he standing up for the Christian minorities in Egypt, in Lebanon, in Palestine, among other places in the West Bank and now in Iraq as a way to say we care about this and America stands above it, instead of a dumb statement coming out of the state department?

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for some Apollo 11 anniversary coverage that really never got off the launch pad.

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