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Christian Persecution and Genocide

Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, Jay Sekulow discusses the rise of Christian persecution and genocide around the world. Read Transcript


[MUSIC PLAYING]

Well, Jay Sekulow of the American Center

for Law and Justice joins us now to talk about this situation.

And Jay, just tell us, how bad is it for Christians

in the Middle East?

It's awful.

The situation right now, Gordon, is grim.

The fact is that Christians, and even

some of the other religious minorities--

Yazidis, but Christians in particular--

cannot even be protected in what are called safe zones.

So when they talk about establishing in Syria and Iraq

these safe zones where the refugees are coming in, inside

those refugee camps-- even the ones run by the United

Nations--

the Christian community cannot succeed in there.

They cannot survive in there, because the hatred is so deep

and the hostility is so deep.

So a safe zone for Christians doesn't really

exist in-region right now because of the nature

of the persecution.

I think if you look at what the Islamic State, ISIS has done

with how they emphasize the torture

and dismemberment of Christians and the crucifixion

of Christians-- we're talking about things that we haven't

seen in 2,000 years at this kind of proportionate level.

So the reality is-- and I hate saying this--

but it's a grim situation.

We were at the United Nations just the other day,

through our European Center for Law and Justice,

on this very issue of genocide so that getting a genocide

designation for Christians in the Middle East is a big issue.

And we've got to get it done.

Once you get that, there are certain guarantees and treaties

that come into play.

But until you get it complete, you don't have that protection.

So it's a very grim situation.

It's a very dangerous situation.

And unfortunately, it's one I don't

see improving drastically right now, absent intervention

from the Lord.

Well, you were leading the charge to get the United States

and when Secretary Kerry finally declared

ISIS guilty of genocide back in March of 2016.

It doesn't look like anything changed.

If anything, it seemed to get worse.

Why?

Yeah.

Well, we actually filed a lawsuit on that,

because once we finally got the administration

to acknowledge the genocide-- they didn't want to say that,

because it cut against their own narrative of how they

wanted to view the Middle East.

The previous administration wanted

to view the Middle East the way they wanted it to be,

not the way it is.

And so we finally did-- because of congressional pressure

and a lot of people engaging on this issue--

we got the administration to acknowledge the genocide.

But then nothing-- you're absolutely right,

Gordon-- nothing happened, maybe less.

So we filed a lawsuit against the State Department

to find out what the heck happened.

What happened here?

Why was there no engagement?

That's in litigation right now.

Now subsequent to that, what we've decided to do

is with the current administration,

obviously, we're pressuring and, in the right way,

getting information to them so that this issue is now

on the State Department's radar screen.

You've got a whole new team coming in at the higher

level, the political level.

And then we decided to go directly to the United Nations

to get the designation there.

So we're working it in tandem.

You can't just go down one road here.

You've got to have it all working at the same time,

or else you're not going to succeed.

And literally, lives are hanging in the balance here.

This is an awful situation--

very, very dangerous.

Well, to compound it, it took a federal judge

to point out that in terms of refugees coming out of Syria,

there was a disproportionate, it seemed,

discrimination against Christians.

That's roughly 10% of the population of Syria.

But in terms of the refugee population, less than 0.5%.

And it seems Syria was targeted.

You don't find the same discrimination

on refugees coming out of Iraq.

Do you know why that is and what the current administration

is trying to do to turn that around?

Well, the current administration--

the executive order that was challenged actually had

a provision in there to protect religious minorities, which,

of course, obviously would have included Christians coming out

of Syria in particular.

In Iraq, it would be exempted out of that order.

Here's the problem.

And this is the ongoing problem.

You have right now a system in place

that is fundamentally flawed.

It's fundamentally flawed because not only are you

not seeing a proportionate number of Christian refugees

come forward, but you're also--

and I hate to say it, but it's fact.

The fact is that the whole apparatus in some of these

regions within Syria-- and to some extent Iraq,

but in Syria--

are being controlled by ISIS.

So they're controlling the passports.

They're controlling the visas.

They're controlling the documents,

the papers upon which individuals

would be able to transit.

And if you look at who's coming into the United States

or who's going into other countries,

it's been overwhelmingly 18 to 35-year-old males that

are not married.

That's not a good sign of what's going on here.

That's not the Christian community.

And it's not even primarily the Sunni or Shia community.

This is a disproportionate amount

of young people, single males in that migration pattern.

I've studied that at Oxford University.

You look at those migration patterns.

It does not bode well.

It certainly hasn't for Europe.

It would not bode well here.

But Christians are disproportionately not

even able to get, Gordon, into the system in the first place.

So at the front end, they're not able to get into the system.

And that's what's got me so concerned.

They can't even get in the system

to be designated, because when they go to the Syrian whoever

is controlling the refugee status or even within the UN,

they say they're Christians, they are immediately-- not

only marginalized, their life's in jeopardy.

Why isn't that story getting out?

And it seems to me in the whole battle

over the executive order, that's not

coming forward at all that we're seeing this huge number of 18

to 34-year-olds, this absolute discrimination

against Christians coming out of these areas.

And it seems to be turned on its head

where somehow the executive order is

being viewed as somehow discriminating against Muslims.

Why is the narrative not being corrected?

Because unfortunately, when the case proceeded,

the Justice Department did not put forward a case,

not only as far as legal arguments go,

but when they were asked-- and you saw this in the Ninth

Circuit when they had that oral argument,

which was a painful thing to watch--

they did not know their own evidence.

And I think that's changing, by the way.

I think if there's another round of this--

and we'll see if there is in the days ahead--

the Department of Justice is now prepared.

And we are bringing this up, Gordon, in our filings

with the court as an amicus.

And we may be representing the chairmans of the Judiciary

Committee and the House and the Senate in these proceedings.

We're working on that right now.

We're going to bring up what's actually happening,

what's on the ground.

And again, as I said, Christians can't even

get in the front end of the system because

of the discrimination at the gate.

That is what people don't understand-- the discrimination

and the lives in jeopardy is at the gate of entry.

And I'm not talking about gate of entry to the United States.

I'm talking gate of entry to the refugee process itself.

That's where the danger is for Christians.

And that makes it an untenable situation.

Well, let's change focus.

It's not just the Middle East that is having discrimination.

You're working to help free a Christian pastor that

was recently sentenced to jail in Sudan.

What was his crime?

They always charge it-- it's violations of national

security.

That's the hallmark of all of this.

It's always a national security crime.

But as it always is, it's propagating

the Christian faith, which they view as a danger

to the national security interests

of the various governments.

Here, it's the Sudanese.

We've had success in the past, as you know, Gordon.

We've gotten several people out of that situation,

either through the court system or through a process

where we're able to organize their release

through political pressure.

But we've actually won some of these in court.

In this particular case, one of the pastors has been let go.

The other has not been.

And that's the danger case.

And that's one we're working on.

We've got a great team of lawyers on the ground in Sudan

that we have trained.

And they are working this case very, very aggressively

through now the appellate system for the one remaining pastor.

But Sudan is a problem.

It's not just Sudan, as you know.

It's in other regions of the world as well.

But in Sudan, we have had success in the past.

And we're praying for and working hard

for success on this one.

We've had success on the one case in the last 10 days.

We're working hard on the other.

Well, if 2016 was the worst year ever,

do you have a forecast for 2017?

Is it going to get better, or are we

going to see more of the same?

If you look at the region and just go through Northern Africa

and the Middle East right now, it doesn't--

I don't want to paint a pretty picture here.

I think it's very difficult.

What we have to do and what we're

working on both through administrative sources

here in the United States domestically,

but also internationally, is if we're

going to establish safe zones, we really

need safe zones for Christians in-region as well.

Not that many people can be taken

in by all these other countries.

So you're going to have to figure out how to do this.

The Kurds have been supportive of Christians in the past.

So we've got to be recognizing that.

Gordon, I am praying for a breakthrough

but working as if we've got to do

our legal work to get it done.

So our international team is committed to make

sure to the best that we can that 2017 is not

a repeat of 2016 and that we see marginal progress.

Now marginal progress means it's case

by case in some situations.

As you mentioned the pastors in Sudan, we've got one out.

Now you work on the other one.

So in these various countries where we're working,

some of these cases are literally one at a time.

And that's how you break through.

So we're looking at multiple sources on how to do that,

both in litigation and through the UN

and various international agencies.

And we're working with a coalition partner.

But on the legal side, we're leading the charge.

And this-- is I will tell you, Gordon,

so that you all know and the audience here knows--

this is a big priority for us.

I come from a family of Russian immigrants

to the United States and Holocaust

survivors on my mother's and father's side.

So I know genocide.

I know this kind of pain in my own family.

I don't want to see it repeated now.

Well, Jay, you and the ACLJ are certainly out there

on the front lines.

How can our viewers support you in this effort?

Well, the first thing is-- and I mean this very sincerely--

pray.

When you're dealing with these governments

and you're dealing with law that is not

based on a US system of justice, you've

got to be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove.

You've got to really know where you're going

and who you're dealing with and how you're

working through the system.

So pray for wisdom for our team.

That's the biggest thing.

And then where we've had also some good success

has been these petition drives we've launched

on various individual cases.

And that information's at ACLJ.org or our Be Heard

project.

Be Heard project is a project dedicated just to this.

All Be Heard does is deal with the persecution issue.

And that is at BeHeardProject.com.

And people can get information there as well.

All right, Jay, you've given us

a lot to think about and a lot to pray about.

And thanks so much for joining us today.

Thanks, Gordon.

Thanks for covering this.

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