On Tuesday Morning, MSNBC and Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart brought a guest on his MSNBC show to discuss the targeted killing and persecution of Christians in Iraq at the hands of the ultra-Islamic terrorist group ISIS. The guest, Mark Arabo, who serves as the national spokesman for the Chaldeans, (the sect of Iraqi Christians facing ISIS’s terror), told Diaz-Balart that the actions of ISIS are that of “a full-blown genocide” in targeting 400,000 Christians in Iraq.
When asked by Diaz-Balart for his take on the actions of the Obama administration so far in Iraq, Arabo said that he and the Iraqi community in Southern California near San Diego (which is the second largest in the country) first “sounded this alarm from San Diego eight weeks ago and we’ve been as clear as we are today: This is a full-blown genocide.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
He stated that he and other Iraqis from Michigan met with President Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes two weeks ago and informed him that “we need a game-changer” in form of air strikes, aid, and an opportunity to leave Iraq and places for asylum for the 400,000 Christians under siege.
When Diaz-Balart inquired about specific examples of how Christians are being targeted, Arabo elaborated on his genocide comments and the dire situation in that part of the Middle East:
Well, ISIS did a convert or die campaign. They eradicated all Christians from their villages. The reason why it’s a genocide? Two reasons: Targeted displacements and targeted killings. They've taken away their passports, they massacred men. They’ve raped women. They’re displaced from their homes. They actually mark their homes with ISIS red death stamp of N, which stands for Nazarene and they're systematically trying to wipe off the oldest Christians in the world.
It was at that point that Diaz-Balart joined in agreeing with his comments on the current plight of Iraqi Christians under ISIS rule by espousing much the same sentiment: “And that's so important because this is targeting Christians. This is a group that is killing, raping, maiming Christians for the act of being Christians.”
In his final two comments, Arabo asked that “the whole world should join us hand by hand, shoulder by shoulder for humanity” because “these are crimes against humanity.” He reported that he will be traveling to the United Nations Tuesday to meet with a number of countries to advocate for special visas or allowing these Iraqi Christians to enter into their respective countries to have a place where they can live without harm as, “[c]urrently, there is no safe haven for Christians” as ISIS goes about “massacring them one by one.”
The complete transcript from the segment on MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart on August 12 is transcribed below.
MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart
August 12, 2014
10:39:10 a.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: THE AMERICAN TIES; IRAQI-AMERICAN CHRISTIANS FEAR FOR LOVED ONES IN IRAQ]
JOSE DIAZ-BALART: From Martha’s Vineyard to California where the Iraqi community in this country is urging President Obama and leaders around the world to do more to help their suffering loved ones back in Iraq and that includes the second largest community of Iraqis in the U.S., just outside of San Diego in El Cajon. Let me bring in Mark Arabo. He is the national spokesman for Iraqi Chaldeans, the sect of Christians and the chief executive of the Neighborhood Market Association. Good to see you. Thanks for being with us, Mark.
MARK ARABO: Thank you.
DIAZ-BALART: Now you're a leader in the lobbying effort to convince the president, his administration, to start air strikes in Iraq. What’s your reaction to the U.S. response so far?
ARABO: You know, we sounded this alarm from San Diego eight weeks ago and we've been clear as we are today: This is a full-blown genocide. Two weeks ago, myself and leaders from Michigan went to the White House and actually told Ben Rhodes we need a game-changer.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The American Ties; El Cajon, CA Has Large Iraqi-Christian Community]
We need air strikes. We need humanitarian aid. We need something to help the Christians and the minorities. Right now, there are 400,000 Christian families that are dying. They're targeted. They don't have water. They don’t have food and what we're asking for now is the world and America to follow France's lead. Offer asylum. These are crimes against humanity that are taking place.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The American Ties; Many in El Cajon, CA Have Family in Northern Iraq]
DIAZ-BALART: So, let me ask you about this issue because you say that the Christians are being targeted. In what way has that manifested? Give us some examples.
ARABO: Sure. Well, ISIS did a convert or die campaign. They eradicated all Christians from their villages. The reason why it’s a genocide? Two reasons: Targeted displacements and targeted killings.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The American Ties; Iraqi-Americans Leading Effort for Intervention]
They've taken away their passports, they massacred men. They’ve raped women. They’re displaced from their homes. They actually mark their homes with ISIS red death stamp of N, which stands for Nazarene and they're systematically trying to wipe off the oldest Christians in the world.
DIAZ-BALART: And that's so important because this is targeting Christians. This is a group that is killing, raping, maiming Christians for the act of being Christians. Is there something that the world should be doing in addition to what the United States has been doing so far?
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The American Ties; Iraqi Christians: ISIS Says Convert or Die]
ARABO: Absolutely. I think the whole world should join us hand by hand, shoulder by shoulder for humanity. This – these are crimes against humanity. Let's work together with the United Nations to offer asylum, offer a home for these people.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The American Ties; Iraqi Christians: ISIS Has Destroyed Our Churches]
Tonight – today I fly to New York and meet with the United Nations, myself and a few leaders in our community to ask Australia, to ask America, to ask Sweden, to ask Germany to do some type of visas to air lift these Christians out of there and for the sake of humanity, let's offer them a home. They’re dying by the hour.
DIAZ-BALART: But Mark, are you thinking that they should be air lifting 400,000 people – from Iraq?
ARABO: Right now, we should do everything we can to save their lives, whether it be air lifting them, whether it be establishing a safe zone. Currently, there is no safe haven for Christians and they're massacring them one by one. We're getting hundreds of phone calls from Americans that have family in Iraq that are telling us the most horrendous stories and we have to act. As a world community, for humanity, we must act.
DIAZ-BALART: Mark Arabo, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
ARABO: Thank you.
DIAZ-BALART: Appreciate your time.
ARABO: Thank you.