Syrian church leaders are calling on the U.S. government to stop ignoring the plight of Syrian Christians and to help Christians who are being targeted by murdering Islamic rebels, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid said on Thursday.
Barnabas Aid and their colleagues at the Westminster Institute in the U.S. sponsored a delegation of senior Syrian Church leaders to visit Washington last week to raise the plight of the Christian community in the war-ravaged country Sookhdeo said.
Sookhdeo reported that more than 1,200 Christians were reportedly martyred in 2013 alone and that over 600,000 Christians have fled the country with even more being internally displaced.
Furthermore, estimated 30-40 Christian churches have been seriously damaged or destroyed.
“The purpose of the delegation was to raise awareness about the deliberate targeting of Christians in Syria and also to try to persuade the US to shape its foreign policy in the region to help the vulnerable minority,” said Sookhdeo.
“Christians are being kidnapped, raped and killed by Islamic militants who are backed and armed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.”
The Syrian church leaders took their case to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the State Department last week to plead their case.
They also called on U.S. officials to recognize a new “axis of evil”, which would encompass Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.
Former President George W. Bush used the term “axis of evil” in 2002 to describe Iran, Iraq, and North Korea due to their known support for terrorism.
The church leaders also want the U.S. to put pressure on its allies to stop supporting and sending terrorist fighters to Syria.
Although there is criticism of mixing religion and politics with the fate of the Christian minority in Syria, Sookhdeo said, “When politicians and statesmen fail, it falls to the Church to stand in the gap.”
In December 2013, Zvi Bar'el, reporter of the Jewish news bureau, Haaretz reported about the plight of Christians in Syria and Iraq, saying that Christians were once protected but today, they have become fair game in both Iraq and Syria.
Bar'el said, “But there’s no maybe about the fact that radical Islamist organizations in Iraq and Syria are not just fighting the governments of those countries. They also hope to lead Iraq and Syria down the path of fundamentalist Islam. As part of that goal, they are hoping to rid those countries of their non-Muslim minorities.”