The Trump administration is raising alarms about the Islamic State committing genocide against Christians, a conclusion that President Obama’s team reached reluctantly only last year.
In a speech Thursday that didn’t receive much press attention in Washington, Vice President Mike Pence told the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians that atrocities are being committed against Christians across the Middle East, from Egypt to Syria to Iraq.
“The practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ, and none more so than the barbarians known as ISIS,” Mr. Pence said. “That brutal regime shows a savagery, frankly, unseen in the Middle East since the Middle Ages. And I believe ISIS is guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith, and it is time the world called it by name.”
The vice president also said President Trump won’t stand for the persecution of Christians.
“He’s made it clear that America will stand by followers of Christ in this hour of need,” Mr. Pence said. “Our administration is fully committed in bringing relief and comfort to believers not only across the Middle East but across the world. This president knows the terrorists will not stop until we stop them. And under President Donald Trump, we will stop them.”
In his first speech to the U.S. Central Command, in February, Mr. Trump said the Islamic State “is on a campaign of genocide.” The president decided this week to send arms to Syrian Kurds fighting the extremist group, as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces continue to wage a battle against the Islamic State around Mosul.
Last year, after the House passed a measure requiring the State Department to make a determination by a deadline, then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the Islamic State was guilty of genocide against various groups in territories under its control.
Mr. Pence said the Christian faith “is under siege” around the world.
“Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ,” he said. “In more than 100 countries spread to every corner of the globe — from Iran to Eritrea, Nigeria to North Korea — over 215 million Christians confront intimidation, imprisonment, forced conversion, abuse, assault, or worse, for holding to the truths of the Gospel.”
The vice president said Mr. Trump “sees these crimes for what they are: vile acts of persecution animated by hatred — hatred for the Gospel of Christ.”
He said Mr. Trump also knows who is committing the crimes.
“He calls them by name — radical Islamic terrorists,” Mr. Pence said to applause. “From al Qaeda to al Shabaab, from Boko Haram to the Taliban, these extremist groups seek to stamp out all religions that are not their own, or even a version of their own that they approve. And believers from every background have suffered grievously at their hands.”
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