Is the killing of Christians by ISIS a genocide?

Genocide is essentially the grave sin of murder, applied to a large group of human persons. Originally, the term was specific to the murder of a large group of persons of the same race or ethnicity. But morally there is no difference between murdering a large number of human persons because of their ethnicity, or their religion, or their age, or some other factor. So we should expand the definition of genocide to include the murder of a large number of human persons, regardless of the criteria used to select the victims.

For example, abortion is the murder of a large group of human persons who are unborn. It does not matter if the aim is only to kill some of the unborn, rather than all of them. It does not matter if the killing is done irrespective of race. It is still murder on a massive scale. Abortion is genocide.

The genocide carried out by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (1975-1979) targeted Buddhist monks, ethnic minorities, and educated persons. A genocide need not be based on only one criterion for its victims. The Khmer Rouge genocide focused on religion, ethnicity, and education. [The Cambodian Genocide Program]

Adolf Hitler’s genocide killed millions of Jews. And it does not matter whether they were targeted because of their ethnicity (Hebrew) or their religion (Jewish). Hitler also targeted other ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and the handicapped. Hatred of any human person on any basis is gravely immoral. Murder is always gravely immoral regardless of the reason that motivates the crime. And the more persons who are murdered, the graver the sin.

ISIS has already killed many persons in the areas under its control. The number of persons killed and the reason for the killing is difficult to document. However, there is ample evidence that ISIS is systematically murdering large numbers of ethnic and religious minorities. And that is genocide.

However, the ISIS genocide is not solely or mainly directed at Christians. What I would like my readers to understand is that Islamic extremists, including ISIS (Sunni extremists) and the current leadership of Iran (Shiite extremists), believe that it is their right and duty to use violence to establish a worldwide Islamic kingdom. In pursuit of this goal, they are willing to kill all Christians, all Jews, all non-Muslims believers, all non-believers (atheists, agnostics), and any Muslims who do not accept the extremist version of Islam. Their proclamation is “Convert or die”. This type of genocide is unprecedented.

Hitler’s genocide killed 6 million Jews and many non-Jewish minorities. But the Islamic extremist goal is literally to kill every human person on earth who refuses to convert to extremist Islam.

Most Western leaders (other than Netanyahu) and the mass media fail to realize how grave the threat is to the whole human race. They argue about whether or not the killing of thousands of Christians and ethnic minorities should be called genocide. Yes, it should. But they fail to realize that the target of this genocide is everyone who rejects the extremist version of Islam.

ISIS has limited power right now. But the extremists of Iran are seeking nuclear weapons. They might already have one or a few nuclear bombs. If not, they will have them soon. The real danger is that Iran will get nuclear weapons, and then join forces with ISIS, uniting the Sunni and Shiite extremists, and essentially making ISIS a nuclear power.

In my eschatology, I am predicting that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons, unite with ISIS, and then they will undertake World War 3, killing many millions of persons. They will conquer Europe and severely oppress the people there. Only after another World War will Islamic extremism be defeated. See my book On World War 3 and World War 4 (the Kindle version is free through Sunday March 13th).

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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