By John Pontifex
Christians in the Middle East are suffering the most but Western governments are ignoring their plight, according to a prominent priest working with Syrian and Iraqi Christians in Jordan.
In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Khalil Jaar, who works with an organization called the Messengers of Peace Association, also warned that extremist Islamists are infiltrating groups seeking asylum in Europe.
Father Jaar said Christians are being “eliminated” by ISIS, the terror organization that, he said, are focused on Christians as their main target.
The priest, who is providing shelter and schooling for thousands of Christian refugees flooding into Jordan’s capital of Amman, said that for this reason he was critical of Western countries, such as the UK, for proposing the resettlement in the West of refugees from the main camps that exclusively house Muslims.
He charged that Christians and other minorities are not given an equal chance of seeking asylum in Europe and the US.
Father Khalil said that some refugees entering Europe are ISIS sympathizers, citing evidence gathered from his many interviews with asylum seekers as well as reports he received from Syria and Iraq.
He spoke in terms of “a direct link” between the influx of Middle East refugees over the past few months and the Paris terrorist attacks Nov. 13, 2015.The priest also said that most of the refugees were not asylum seekers but economic migrants in search of a better life.
He said: “The West has totally failed to recognize what is going on in the Middle East.”
“Most of the refugees flooding into Europe are people looking for a better life. If they were genuine asylum seekers, they would have accepted to stay in the first available country offering them sanctuary. The real refugees are left far behind.”
“Why is the West not doing more for Christians and other minorities? They are the ones who are suffering the most. If the Christians stay in Syria and Iraq, they risk being eliminated by Islamic extremists and if they seek sanctuary abroad in the main refugee camps, they suffer abuse from those already there.”
He said Islamist groups are putting extreme pressure on Christians in Syria and Iraq to convert to Islam, pay the Jizya tax or risk being killed. He said such threats were being made by a number of marauding Islamist forces, including the al-Nusra Front, Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, in addition to ISIS.
According to the priest, “Whenever [the Islamist groups] seize any territory, one of their first aims is to eliminate the Christian presence.”
“The people most in danger are the Christians.”
With picture of Father Jaar with Christian refugee children (© ACN)
Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.