CFI Joins Coalition in Urging President Obama to Declare ISIS Atrocities a Genocide

February 19, 2016

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has joined 37 organizations and more than 70 religious leaders and human rights advocates in urging President Obama to declare the Islamic State’s (ISIS) systematic destruction of ancient religious minority communities in Iraq and Syria to be genocide.

As we write in our letter:

There is a growing chorus of political and faith leaders, genocide scholars, human rights experts and numerous Iraqi and Syrian, Christian and Yazidi firsthand testimonies recognizing that the most accurate description for the atrocities unfolding at the initiative of the Islamic State is genocide. ...

In their most recent report, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq – Human Rights Office stated clearly that “ISIL continue to target members of different ethnic and religious communities,“expounding further “[t]hese acts appear to form part of a systematic and widespread policy that aims to suppress, permanently expel, or destroy many of these communities within ISIL areas of control.” ...

Mr. President, we urge you to designate the actions perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria against Christians—Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs, Copts, etc.—Yazidis, Shia Muslims,  Turkmen (Shia), Shabak and other religious minorities as genocide. Time and again the Islamic State has committed crimes with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the ethnic and religious minority communities of Iraq and Syria. The world is watching and clear moral leadership by your Administration is needed to declare and subsequently stop such atrocities in order to preserve these ancient communities. It is our belief that officially declaring and subsequently halting this genocide is a matter of vital moral and strategic importance for the United States, the international community, and the overall state of religious freedom around the world.

You can read the full letter here

Organizations and inviduals signing the letter cover a diverse spectrum, including the Center for Inquiry, Hindu American Foundation, In Defense of Christians, International Christian Concern, Shia Rights Watch, former chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee Pete Hoekstra, and prsident of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore.

This is not the first time CFI has supported calls to declare ISIS’ crimes as genocide. In September 2015, CFI signed a similiar letter to President Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; and, in November 2015, we signed a letter to members of Congress in support of H. Con. Res. 75, which declares that “the atrocities committed against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities targeted specifically for religious reasons are crimes against humanity and genocide.”