CPCE on Iraq: Swift action demanded

The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) is deeply concerned about the threat facing Christians and other religious and ethnic groups in northern Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of these people are being forced to flee and fight for their survival. The deadly threat against Yazidis, Christians and members of other religious and ethnic minorities exerted by the Islamic terror group “Islamic State” (IS) demands immediate action from the international community. The CPCE therefore supports the call issued by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and urgently requests its members to contact their appropriate government officials – preferably as designated by the UN – demanding effective protection for those under threat, swift aid to displaced persons, and to ensure their safe return and put an end to violence against religious and ethnic minorities. In addition, effective pressure must be exerted by the international community on any countries that support IS in the form of weapons or funding. The Presidium of the CPCE points out that the dramatic events in Iraq need to be viewed in their broader context. The member churches of the CPCE have long been aware of the oppressive situation forced upon Christians living in the Near and Middle East, which they have learned about via their close affinity with the Federation of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), to which the Council of Protestant Churches in Iraq belongs. “Christians in the Middle East have never before in their history in this region found themselves confronted with such a level of catastrophe and chaos as has emerged from the ‘Arab Spring’,” declared FMEEC General Secretary Rosangela Jarjour at the 2012 CPCE General Assembly in Florence. Even back then, the future already looked dim, but by now the very existence and witness of Christians in the Middle East is at stake, to the dismay of the Presidium of the CPCE. “Current events add even greater urgency to the need for solidarity between the churches and their actions,” says the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. For this reason, the Presidium and the General Secretary of the CPCE call upon its member churches – and the nearly 50 million Protestants they represent throughout Europe – to increase their practical aid and to support these threatened groups with actions of solidarity. “Any form of religiously motivated violence and brutalised piety destroys human coexistence and is blasphemous to God,” asserts the Presidium of the CPCE. Alongside concrete aid – including assistance for those whose families’ lives are threatened – the current situation calls for all churches to unite in prayer for anyone currently facing such threats.

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