In February 2015, the world was shocked and outraged when members of the terrorist group the Islamic State (ISIS) beheaded 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya. According to the video, the execution was “in retaliation for Osama bin Laden’s death by U.S. Special Forces” and was meant to instill fear in the hearts of all Christians.
The video, while it did show the gruesome murder, had the opposite effect as it also featured a stunning display of Christian faith. According to Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza, the “the name of Jesus was the last word on their lips [and like the early Church Martyrs] they entrusted themselves to the one who would receive them soon after. That name, whispered in the last moments, was like the seal of their martyrdom.”
The martyrdom of the 21 Coptic Christians (one of the men beheaded converted to Christianity at the last second), is one example of the Christian genocide that Jacqueline Isaac, vice president of the humanitarian group Roads of Success, has used to bring more attention to the dire situation of Christians and other minority groups in the Middle-East.
Last year she spoke at a hearing on ISIS and religious minorities held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and in April spoke at a UN convention in New York in hopes that the United Nations would recognize the massacres of Christians and Yazidis as genocide.
She explained in the hearing last year the immense faith of the people, saying, “I went to Egypt and I met the families, 15 of the 21 families that had victims that were slaughtered in Libya. I was astonished by their faith.”
Isaac recounted how the wife of one of the victims said her husband had told her, ‘I am going to Libya and I will be in danger. But if I don’t make it, teach my children, teach them the principles of Jesus Christ.”
Most recently Isaac was invited to speak on behalf of Christian and Yazidi minorities in the Middle East at the Congressional Affairs Sub-Committee and to give accounts of the conditions they witnessed to shed further light on the genocide of Christians and Yazidis. Their testimonies are meant to help advance the Save Christians from Genocide Act (H.R. 4017) that is currently being proposed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
The bill “recognizes that Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, and Libya are targets of genocide [and if passed] The Department of Homeland Security shall provide for expedited visa processing and shall ensure that such applications receive first priority among refugee and (family- or employment-based) immigrant applications for an alien who [among other items] is a Christian or Yazidi.”
If the bill were passed, it would be the second time the US Government has officially recognized the actions of ISIS as genocide. In March, Secretary of State John Kerry declared, “(ISIS) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims.”
Isaac joins many other activists, including human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, shedding light on the plight of minorities in the Middle East and urging governments worldwide to not only recognize the actions of ISIS as genocide, but to do something about it.