IDC Sponsors Two-day Visit of Bishop Angaelos to Speak to US Congress and National Media
Bishop Angaelos visits Members of Congress to Convey Urgency of Situation for Christian Communities in the Middle East
On March 17-18, IDC sponsored a two-day return visit to Washington, DC of His Grace Bishop Angaelos from the Coptic Church of the UK, in order to speak with the US Congress, Rabbi David Saperstein US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, and national media.
On March 17th, IDC hosted a breakfast for Bishop Angaelos with the Congressional Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East, co-chaired by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). Bishop Angaelos was able to speak openly and candidly with the members of Congress, expressing concerns regarding the current situation of the Christian minorities in the Middle East and insisting on immediate international assistance. Along with the co-chairs, present at the breakfast were: Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), IDC President Toufic Baaklini, IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans, and IDC Board Member Robert Destro.
Bishop Angaelos spent that afternoon visiting members of Congress unable to attend the breakfast, communicating the same concern and plea for action.
Right: Bishop Angaelos speaks with Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) about the plight of Christian communities in the Middle East.
IDC Brings together Experts to Embolden Media Coverage on Human Rights and Religion in the Middle East
On March 18th, IDC sponsored a press conference and panel discussion at the National Press Club, titled “Sensitivity Rather than Sensationalism: Western Media Coverage of Human Rights and Religious Issues in the Middle East.”
Joining Bishop Angaelos on the panel were: Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom: Kathryn Jean Lopez, Editor of the National Review; Nermien Riad, founder of Coptic Orphans; and Professor Robert Destro, Director and founder of the Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.
These national experts on religion and global politics addressed the media professionals about the urgent need to educate the American public on the human rights and humanitarian dimensions of current conflicts in the Middle East, avoiding media coverage that was limited to strictly political terms.
Watch the full press conference and panel discussion HERE. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xU5ZxDLNt8&feature=youtu.be
Click HERE to read media coverage of the event by the National Review.
Bishop Angaelos Attends Congressional Hearing on ISIS and Human Rights Abuses and Discusses the Plight of Middle East Christian Communities with US Ambassador David Saperstein
On March 18th, Bishop Angaelos attended the congressional hearing of the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights on the topic of “Human Rights Abuses of ISIS.” The Commission’s chairman, Congressman James McGovern (D-MA), acknowledged the bishop’s presence and thank him for his tireless work in the interest of Christians in the Middle East.
Bishop Angaelos then met privately with Rabbi David Saperstein, US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, who had giving key testimony in the hearing. In their meeting, Bishop Angaelos and Ambassador Saperstein discussed a variety of ways in which U.S. foreign policy can respond to the pressing needs of Christian and other religious minorities. Also present in the meeting was IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans.
IDC’s Influence is felt on Capitol Hill through Expanding Caucus and Pressure for Special Presidential Envoy
IDC continues to promote new memberships to the Congressional Caucus for Religious Minorities in the Middle East. As a result of our efforts in the last month at least seven new members of Congress have joined the caucus: Sean Duffy (R-WI), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), David Trott (R-MI), Louise Slaughter (D-NY),and Robert Aderholt (R-AL). They joined the growing list of caucus members, which also includes: Anna Eshoo (Co-Chair/ D-CA), Jeff Fortenberry (Co-Chair/ R-NE), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Andre Carson (D-IN), Sander Levin (D-MI) Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Brad Sherman (D-CA); Elizabeth Esty (D-CT); Chris Smith (R-NJ); Timothy Walberg (R-IL) Joe Pitts (R-PA), Trent Franks (R-AZ) Juan Vargas (D-CA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Jeff Denham (R-CA).
In August 2014, President Obama signed the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act into law. This bipartisan bill authorized the creation of a Special Envoy for Religious Minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia. A bicameral letter from members of Congress to President Obama is being circulated, urging him to fill the vacant post of Special Envoy. Together with other human rights NGO’s, IDC is working to encourage new members of Congress to sign the bicameral letter to President Obama.
IDC Aid Reaches Hundreds of Refugees in Lebanon
Thousands of Christians have fled to Lebanon from Iraq and Syria over past years due to the conflict in the region. Assyrian refugees have continued to arrive following the February attacks on Christian villages in Hassakeh province by ISIS.
Last week, IDC delivered over $200,000 worth of aid to these refugees, in the form of food, mattresses, and toys. Professor Alexis Moukarzel, IDC representative in Beirut, met with the Assyrian Church of the East, listened to the refugees’ stories, and oversaw the distribution of aid.
With Father Yotron Ghelyna From the Assyrian Chruch of the East
At a press conference covering the event, Professor Alexis’ called for major international action in support of the refugees. Below are links to American, European and Pan Arab media coverage of the aid distribution, followed by excerpts from Professor Alexis’ speech.
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/03/lebanon-church-aid-iraqi-refugees-christian.html http://newspaper.annahar.com/article/222008 http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2015/Mar-18/291202-fearing-for-loved-ones-held-by-isis-assyrian-refugees-remain-silent.ashx http://www.epa.eu/war-photos/charity-crisis-photos/aid-given-to-syrian-and-iraqi-christians-in-lebanon-photos-51847121
Excerpts from Professor Alexis’ Speech (Adapted from Arabic):
“Today your Church is an eye witness and at the same time a martyr, and so it was during the Ottoman period, a living witness of the culture of love and openness.
Your history is full of giving, you carried the culture of the Word all the way to China through more than two hundred dioceses that you started in Asia, and you shared your knowledge with the Arab civilization and shed light upon its spreading, making it a meaningful culture in human history.
Today, on behalf of IDC, a non-profit organization whose mission is to defend Christians in the orient by protecting their identity and making their role more active, we came here to support you and stand by your Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic churches. Our goal is to assist you in all fields so that you regain your historical role in your own regions as you always have, and therefore flourish within the Arab culture.
Finally, I am happy to thank Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Ronald Chagoury for their generosity, the generosity that made us secure these contributions to four thousand families, hoping to follow up later in all fields. Thank you.”
IDC expands it executive team by welcoming our new Executive Director, Ms. Kirsten Evans, and our Director of Media Communications and Outreach Ms. Ninar Keyrouz. Welcome aboard, Kirsten and Ninar! To learn more about IDC Team visit: http://indefenseofchristians.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=00abc15267b1d0ce962b0c318&id=5723c9acb5&e=940b6d3521
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“Assyrians have practiced two religions throughout their history: Ashurism and Christianity. Ashurism was, of course, the first religion of the Assyrians. The very word Assyrian, in its Latin form, derives from the name of Ashur, the Assyrian god. Assyrians continued to practice Ashurism until 256 A.D, although by that time, most Assyrians had accepted Christianity. Indeed, Assyrians were the first nation to accept Christianity, and the Assyrian Church was founded in 33 A.D. by Thomas, Bortholemew and Thaddeus.”
Source: Assyrian International News Agency