Advocates from across the country gathered to protect and preserve Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East.
Last week, IDC concluded its Fourth Annual 3-day Summit on Thursday, October 26, 2017. The Summit which was entitled, “American Leadership and Securing the Future of Christians in the Middle East,” began on Tuesday, October 24. Over 1000 IDC members, advocates, clergy, and press attended the summit, where policy makers and proponents gathered together to advocate for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. A keynote speech was given by the Vice President of the United States Mike Pence. The summit was held in partnership with the Philos Project, the Armenian National Committee of America and the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
On October 24, IDC’s National Press Conference was held at the National Press Club. Policy and human rights experts engaged the national media in pressing for a way forward for Christians and other ethno-religious minorities in the Middle East based on IDC’s 5 point policy agenda. The event also focused on the importance of national security in helping minorities in the Middle East, a population which has historically served as a bridge builder.
The Ecumenical Prayer Service for Christians in the Middle East took place at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral, where several faith leaders gathered together to pray for persecuted Christians in the Middle East and peace around the world. Internationally Acclaimed Lebanese Singer Abeer Nehme gave a moving performance singing ancient chants in Aramaic, Armenian, Byzantine and Arabic, and the service featured an inspiring reflection given by Reverend Johnnie Moore.
On October 25, IDC gathered for a policy symposium day where panels focused on the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, the civil war raging in Syria, the United States’ interest in protecting religious minorities in the Middle East, and on U.S. policy toward its allies who persecute their minorities. The panels included: Lebanon and Syria: Security and Stability Post Conflict, How to Advance U.S. Interests by Protecting Religious Minorities in the Middle East, and finally Lunch and Panel: Who Are America’s Allies and Enemies in the Middle East? A Hard Look at Turkey, Iran and the Gulf States.
In the evening, IDC summit attendees gathered to listen to Vice President Mike Pence’s Keynote Address at IDC’s fourth Solidarity Dinner where he announced that the US would provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID. The Vice President stated that “In the mountains of Syria, the valleys of Lebanon, on the plains of Nineveh, the plateaus of Armenia, on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, the delta of the Nile, the fathers and mothers of our faith planted seeds of belief. They’ve blossomed and borne fruit ever since. But now that garden of faith, generations in the making, is under threat. It’s under threat of persecution and mistreatment. Many of the Christian communities that first embraced the message of Christ are today the targets of unspeakable acts of violence and atrocities.”
On October 26, the IDC community took over one-hundred advocates ,who represented delegations from twenty-six states, to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress and advocate for policies critical to the existence of Christian communities in the Middle East.
Our advocates heard from seventeen members of Congress and visited around four-hundred House and Senate offices, meeting with members and staff to build support for—a stable Lebanon (House Resolution 252), the need for immediate genocide relief for Iraq and Syria (H.R. 390), and to call for a recognition of the Armenian Genocide (House Resolution 220).