Obama won't call Islamic State atrocities 'genocide' against Christians

The Obama administration is considering whether to label as "genocide" the Islamic State's murderous assaults on religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. But according to journalist Michael Isikoff, the administration's decision, which is expected to come in the next couple weeks, may be confined to Iraq's Yazidi community, thus leaving out several persecuted minority groups, including Iraq and Syria's ancient Christian communities.

The Yazidi are a small ancient Iraqi community of half a million whose faith is linked to the ancient Zoroastrian religion. Reports indicate that they have been victims of mass killings and sexual slavery since the Islamic State took over large swaths of Iraq and Syria last year. IS has made it clear that it intends not only to remove the Yazidi from their lands but to exterminate them. A "genocide" designation would create a moral and possibly a legal, obligation to act.

Meanwhile, 150 members of Congress, led by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., have co-sponsored a resolution (H. Con. Res. 75) urging the administration to call these attacks on all of the minorities groups in the area, including Christians and Yazidi, "genocide." The administration maintains that crimes against Christians constitute "crimes against humanity" but don't rise to the level of "genocide." To be labeled genocide, there has to be proof that perpetrators have attempted to destroy a whole national, ethnic or religious group.

Pope Francis and several other world leaders have used the "genocide" to describe the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

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