Obama asked to defend Iraqi Christians byJoel Gehrke Commentary

Thirty-seven House legislators from both sides of the aisle signed a letter to President Obama requesting that he intercede on behalf of persecuted Iraq Christians and other religious minorities in his upcoming meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“The Iraqi Government needs to understand,” wrote Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., on behalf of his colleagues yesterday, “that the protection and preservation of these communities will be a key component of our future bilateral relations and critical to our alliance, given its own centrality to our own basic values.”

The legislators — including Democrats such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., D-Ill. — reminded Obama that a 2004 commission found that rapes, beheadings, and bombings of Christians in Iraq often take place. “Too often, attacks of the sort described above are not adequately investigated, prosecuted, or punished, fostering a deadly climate of impunity,” they said.

The House members asked Obama, in his Monday meeting with al-Maliki, to obtain some surety that Iraqi Christians and other minorities will be safe in the years to come. “We urge you to raise the plight of Iraq’s besieged ethno-religious communities and press the Iradi government to take concrete steps to ensure the long-term survival of these ancient faith communities as U.S. troops depart the country,” they wrote in their petition to the president.