Norway condemns attacks on religious minorities in the Middle East
‘I am deeply concerned about the ISIL offensive and the fact that the Iraqi authorities are losing control of more and more large areas of the country. This has also had serious consequences for the situation of Christians and religious minorities in Iraq. Civilians who have been forced to flee their homes are in urgent need of protection and assistance,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its allies have carried out attacks in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Several hundred thousand civilians have fled their homes as a result.
The security situation in Iraq has deteriorated steadily over the past few months, and violence is now at its highest level since 2008. Thousands of Christians have fled after ISIL took control of four towns, including the Christian town of Qaraqosh in Nineveh province. Several thousand Christians had already fled from the Mosul area. Several thousand members of the Yazidi religious minority fled over the weekend after ISIL took control of the Sinjar area.
In Syria, too, thousands of Christians and members of religious minorities have been killed or forced to flee their homes since the start of the conflict. A number of churches and other religious symbols have been destroyed in Syria and Iraq.
‘Religious pluralism is a vital part of the Middle East’s history and culture. We need political solutions that that can counteract the growing divisions along sectarian lines. Norway will continue to work to combat religious violence and radicalisation. We are supporting organisations that are campaigning for the rights of minorities in Iraq and other countries,’ Mr Brende said.