For people seeking to understand the crisis facing the Christians of Iraq, there’s an interesting panel discussion on the website of France 24, an English-language news station based in Paris: “Iraq’s Christians: Nowhere to Run?” The discussion is in two segments, here and here. It features a French senator, Nathalie Goulet; the New York Times’s Paris Bureau chief, Alissa Rubin; lawyer Ardavan Amir Aslani; and Christelle Yalap of the Committee for the Support of Iraqi Christians, a French NGO.
The panel is worth watching in full, if only to learn about the discussion taking place in another Western country. The panelists disagree about the responsibility America bears for the situation. The invasion of Iraq destabilized the country and exposed Christians and other minorities to grave danger. But Islamism is not simply a response to American actions. It results from factors internal to the Muslim world. America has been only a peripheral actor in the Arab Spring. And yet, as one of the panelists says, the Arab Spring always seems to become an Islamist autumn.
The ordeal of Mosul’s Christians did not end with expulsion from their homes, a fact Ms. Yalap succinctly describes. Her NGO has been in touch with these Christians, who have taken refuge in Erbil, in Kurdistan. Apparently, ISIS has continued to pursue them there, and has succeeded in cutting off their water and electricity. It’s summer in Erbil, and the temperature is around 113°. The Christians of Mosul continue to face a humanitarian crisis.
How can outsiders best help this beleaguered group? Not by granting asylum, Ms. Yalap says. Emigration would mean the end of the Christian presence in Iraq. Although Mosul’s Christians are very grateful to France for offering them a home—an offer the United States has not made, incidentally—they wish to remain in their own country, where their community has lived for thousands of years. Instead, she says, the international community can best help Iraq’s Christians by providing them immediate humanitarian assistance—food, water, shelter, security.