By: Hon. John Baird“The very notion of religious freedom is what ISIL is working to eradicate and what the Iraqi people and the international community cannot surrender.”
Over the summer we’ve all watched with horror as a human tragedy is unfolding in Iraq. The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) campaign of terror has been brutal. But while the summer is waning, ISIL’s evil campaign is not. They’ve already killed thousands, maimed many more, traumatized whole families, and left mothers, daughters, sons and fathers homeless in dusty internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in their own country. A staggering 1.8 million people are believed to have fled ISIL’s advances.
The long-term damage caused by ISIL is something you can’t put a number on. They have terrorized and murdered Christians, Yezidis, Shia Turkomens and other ethnic and religious minority groups. They have destroyed ancient religious monuments that are hundreds of years old. They have raped children and forced women into sexual slavery. They have summarily executed Iraqis of any creed or ethnic group who have shown resistance to their reign of terror. Time and time again, ISIL has shown its total depravity and inhumanity. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated, Canada condemns the systematic campaign of persecution that is being perpetrated by ISIL to force hundreds of thousands of Christians to convert to ISIL’s nefarious brand of Islam. The very notion of religious freedom is what ISIL is working to eradicate and what the Iraqi people and the international community cannot surrender.
The legacy they’ve left Iraqis will take the strong will of the international community to overcome. I visited Iraq over the last few days to demonstrate visibly that Canada stands with the government and people of Iraq at this challenging time. We met with the Iraqi leadership to convey this strong message of support and to express our hope that a united government would soon be formed to govern for all Iraqis regardless of their faith or ethnic identity.