THE PRESS IS HAILING IT AS HIS HOMECOMING, CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O RETURNS TO INDONESIA.
IN WHAT CAN ONLY BE SEEN AS THE LAND'S RESPONSE, THE VISIT MAY BE BRIEF DUE TO GRUMBLES FROM MOUNT MERAPI.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Call on the Administration to Develop Comprehensive Policy to Protect Indigenous Religious Communities in Iraq
Washington, D.C. -- In the wake of the hostage crisis which occurred at Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, U.S. Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (CA-14) and Frank Wolf (VA-10), who co-chair the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, as well as several other Representatives, sent a letter today to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling for the Obama Administration to develop a comprehensive policy for the protection of indigenous religious communities in Iraq. Members of Congress also offered condolences to the victims and their families.
Rep. Eshoo said: "As an Assyrian American, the plight of Iraq's indigenous religious communities has always held a very personal significance for me. Nearly constant violence has been a tragic consequence of our involvement in Iraq, and without clear action from the U.S. government, Iraq's ancient Christian community faces extinction. The horrific attack and loss of life once again underscores the need for a concrete strategy to protect Iraq's religious minorities."
Rep. Wolf said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of the hostage crisis at Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad. This horrific attack against Christians gathered in their place of worship is symptomatic of a much larger problem -- namely that Iraq's ancient faith communities are being systematically targeted and driven from the land they have inhabited for centuries, threatening their very existence in modern day Iraq. Successive administrations have failed to recognize the unique needs of these indigenous faith communities and to prioritize their protection and preservation. This neglect comes at a grave cost. We can only hope that this tragedy will prompt a renewed focus on the plight of these vulnerable communities."
Rep. Mark Steven Kirk said: "I condemn in the strongest terms the horrific attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad and extend my deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We must recognize that this reprehensible act specifically targeted the Iraqi Christians, continuing an alarming pattern of violence against vulnerable minority groups in Iraq. In the wake of this tragedy, I call on the Iraqi government, the Obama Administration, as well as international stakeholders, to prioritize the protection of indigenous religious communities in Iraq."
Rep. Trent Franks said: "This devastating attack, which claimed the lives of 58 people who committed no offense other than having the 'nerve' to be Christian, reminds us that the precious freedoms we enjoy as Americans are not a given in other parts of the world. Despite the incredible progress Iraq has made over the past decade, it can never truly be said that Iraq is a wholly free and stable representative of Democracy in the Middle East until religious minorities are able to put their beliefs into action without fear of reprisal. I join my colleagues in mourning the lives senselessly lost as a result of this cowardly violence and I call on the Obama Administration to prioritize an articulated strategy for Iraq's indigenous religious community."
Rep. Chris Smith: "The devastation suffered by members of Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church -- and of all religious minorities in Iraq -- is almost beyond the comprehension of those of us who live in a country where the human right of religious freedom is respected. Nearly half of the worshipers died, and those who survived were wounded in body and spirit by the psychotic hatred of those who would control the free world through terror. We must protect, as first priority, the courageous believers who dare to follow their conscience rather than be controlled by fear. It is they who help lead the way in the fight for freedom and democracy in Iraq."
Rep. Scott Garrett: "I extend my deepest condolences to the family members and loved ones of those who perished on Sunday at Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church. As thousands of Iraqis continue to be the victims of ethnic and religious discrimination in Iraq, I encourage Secretary Clinton to develop a strategy to address the ongoing atrocities. The United States was founded on the principles of freedom and equality, and should strongly resist the intolerance that fueled the recent hostage crisis in Baghdad."
Yesterday In England, Archbishop Athanasios Dawood has issued a statement. CNN quotes him calling for Iraqi Christians to leave Iraq immediately:
I say clearly and now -- the Christian people should leave their beloved land of our ancestors and escape the premeditated ethnic cleansing. This is better than having them killed one by one. [. . .] The Iraqi government is weak, biased, if not extremist. It does not protect us and the other minorities. It has ignored our legal rights. We ask the British government, the EU and the UN to protect us. [. . .] I ask the British government again to help the Iraqi Christians and grant them the rights of humanitarian asylum in order to preserve what is left of the victims who do not carry a weapon to fight and kill."
The Archbishop appeared on BBC News Sunday (link has text and video):
Archbishop Athanasios Dawood: Our people now in Iraq, they are living in danger -- no protection, no support, nobody look after them. After this many years -- about eight -- since the fall of the old regime, nobody support our people. Our people are trying to flee from Iraq afraid from persecution, from killing, from ethnic cleansing and all the terrorists now, they attack all of our people in Iraq.
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