ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the dire situation of Christians in Iraq, particularly after ISIS's takeover of the key city of Mosul. The Islamic extremist group drove most of the Christians out of the city, and issued an ultimatum to those who remained: covert to Islam, pay a hefty tax, or face death. Refreshingly, the New York Times spotlighted the crisis in a Thursday op-ed, and noted that the Christian community in Mosul has lived there for nearly 2,000 years.
The patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, Ignatius Yousef Younan III, along with Fox News Channel's Father Jonathan Morris, detailed ISIS's anti-Christian pogrom on Wednesday's Fox and Friends: [video below the jump]
In the unsigned editorial, "Iraq's Imperiled Minorities," the liberal newspaper also blasted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for making the situation worse inside the Middle Eastern country:
...The brutal crackdown, by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an offshoot of Al Qaeda known as ISIS, has cleared Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, of a Christian population that has lived there for two millenniums. These attacks deserve the strongest possible international condemnation and may warrant prosecution as a crime against humanity....Before the [2003 U.S.] invasion, there were about 1.2 million Christians in the country; the current estimate is no more than 500,000, and that number could shrink to 50,000 in a decade, according to Louis Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad.
The plight of the Christians, who are among two million Iraqis displaced by sectarian violence, must not be ignored by a world focused on other crises. Over the weekend, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon; Pope Francis; and Patriarch Sako condemned the Islamic State's actions. Other world leaders must also speak out.
Iraq's prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, promised to provide aid to Christians left homeless, but that is hardly sufficient. They and other minorities need to be able to return to their communities and live in peace.
But more than any Iraqi, Mr. Maliki has made worse the sectarian divisions and created an opening for ISIS to gain a foothold....Putting a stop to the persecution of Christians and other minorities is just one more reason Iraq's Parliament needs to choose a new prime minister able to unify the country and lead the military forces to defeat ISIS — as Mr. Maliki is not that person.
It should be pointed out that CBS's early morning news program, CBS Morning News, did air a full report on the flight of Christians from Mosul on June 30 – just days after ISIS took over the city – and included a soundbite from the Syriac Catholic patriarch. But this reporting never made it over to CBS This Morning or CBS Evening News:
WENDY GILLETTE: ...The jihadist group [ISIS] released an audio recording that says saying it's changing its name to 'Islamic State,' and called on factions to pledge their allegiance. Attacks by the group sent Iraqi Christians in the north fleeing this past week. Now, thousands are returning home.
IGNATIUS JOSEPH III, PATRIARCH OF SYRIAC CATHOLIC CHURCH: We have to be courageous, to stand up – defend our rights.
[H/t: to Catholic author blogger Dawn Eden for her Tweet about the NY Times editorial]