In a rare appearance on Capitol Hill by a Vatican representative, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt testified Tuesday before a House subcommittee on the “flagrant and widespread persecution” of Christians in the Middle East.
“No Christian is exempt, whether or not he or she is Arab,” Chullikatt said.
Chullikatt was among seven speakers discussing the escalation of threats to Christians. Specifically, testimony focused on underreported assaults, the plight of impacted Christian communities and the need to protect religious freedoms and civil rights.
“Arab Christians, a small but significant community, find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith,” Chullikatt said.
In Syria alone, there have been reports of kidnappings, Christian communities intentionally displaced by militants, as well as shootings and beheadings of Christians who refused to convert to Islam, according to various news reports from the region.
One of the most graphic illustrations of ongoing brutality confronting Arab Christians is the practice of bombings of Christian houses, churches and other places of worship on Christmas Eve, Chullikatt said.
Chullikatt, who has worked in Iraq, also pressed the U.S. to take a stronger stance with the United Nations and its global goal of safeguarding religious freedom.