New York City – Activists are questioning comments by US Vice President Mike Pence, who recently warned that Christians around the world face “genocide” at the hands of ISIL.
Speaking at the first-ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington, DC, last week, Pence described the Christian faith as “under siege”, stating an estimated 215 million Christians face mistreatment in more than 100 countries.
“The reality is, across the wider world, the Christian faith is under siege. Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ,” Pence told the audience.
Christianity, the world’s largest religion, has an estimated 2.2 billion followers worldwide. Yet Pence reserved his strongest words at the summit for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
“I believe ISIS is guilty of nothing short of genocide against people of the Christian faith, and it is time the world called it by name,” said Pence.
Simon Adams, executive director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, a New York-based policy institute, questioned Pence’s choice of words.
“You have to be so careful with the genocide word,” said Adams. “This is not just a word to throw around because it serves political advantage.”
Adams did agree there have been “mass atrocities” committed against Christians in Iraq, but added in relation to genocide the situation was more complicated.
“We were very careful when we came out and said that we thought that there had been a genocide committed against the Yazidis, that was based on investigation, on argument, on deliberation,” he said.