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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:20 AM

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FAITH: U.S. State Department No Longer Referring To ISIS Slaughter Of Christians as "Genocide"

The United States State Department legal team has removed the word “genocide” from speeches and official documents that describe the Islamic State’s actions against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities.

The Washington Free Beacon published a report this week that said State Department lawyers “are systematically removing the word ‘genocide’ to describe the Islamic State’s mass slaughter of Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic minorities” from documents and speeches before they are given.

The State Department has not commented on the report.

Nina Shea, a human rights activist and former commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told the Beacon that Richard Visek, that State Department’s acting legal adviser, made the decision to make the change.

"I don't think for a minute it's a bureaucratic decision — it's ideological," Shea said.

Since ISIS came to power in Iraq in 2014, thousands of Christians and other minorities have fled their homes because of the violence. Thousands of Yazidis have been killed or kidnapped.

Then in March 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry called the Islamic State’s actions a “genocide.”

But activists are now claiming that the State Department’s changes and Democratic senators’ efforts to block Trump’s nomination to the U.S. Agency for International Development “guarantee that Obama-era policies that worked to exclude Iraq’s Christian and other minority religious populations from the key U.S. aid programs remain in place.”

"Iraq is home to one of the four largest remaining Christian communities in the Middle East that are about to become extinct," Shea said. "Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama made catastrophic mistakes that left these communities on the brink of extinction, but it's going to be on President Trump's watch as to whether they survive or become extinct."