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Hussein Malla | AP Photo

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On Thursday the European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution expressing its view

...that the persecution, atrocities and international crimes amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity; stresses that the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’ is committing genocide against Christians and Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities, who do not agree with the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’ interpretation of Islam, and that this therefore entails action under the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; underlines the fact that those who intentionally, for ethnic or religious reasons, conspire in, plan, incite, commit or attempt to commit, are complicit in or support atrocities should be brought to justice and prosecuted for violations of international law, notably war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Furthermore, the trans-national legislative body said it:

[u]rges the members of the UN Security Council to support a referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court in order to investigate violations committed in Iraq and Syria by the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’ against Christians, Yazidis and religious and ethnic minorities.

To quote Vice President Joe Biden, “this is a big f***ing deal.” Here’s why:

Since its swift and brutal rise over the summer of 2014, the insurgency has not only taken control of a swath of land the size of Belgium, created a confederation of affiliate organizations from Afghanistan to Nigeria and become the best-funded terror group in history, it has also engaged in a systematic attempt to rid all areas under its control of every single person who does not adhere to its medieval and apocalyptic brand of Sunni Islam. This includes Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims and other religious minorities who have existed in the Middle East for millennia. ISIS/Daesh has been committed to the crime of genocide for over a year.

*Side note: While it may get their goat to refer to the insurgency by the moniker of a polytheistic deity, we should really be calling it Daesh. This video explains why:

For months, the Obama administration has done little more than pay lip service to the genocide experienced by these ancient communities, while a long list of political and religious leaders and an independent, nonpartisan commission of the U.S. government have exhibited the moral courage to call the atrocities what they are.

Many wonder what the difference between using the so-called g-word and some other euphemism for mankind’s ultimate crime is; the answer to this is probably said best by former congressman and career-long human rights advocate Frank R. Wolf (R-VA): “[G]enocide is the word that wakes up the world.” History and empirical research both indicate that when the United States acknowledges a genocide while it’s happening, things change for those who have been targeted.

Unless it’s stopped and punished, this genocide is coming soon to a theater near you.

“Groups that have been designated as genocide victims are much more likely to receive military protection, including arming and training their militias for self-defense, which is always the best defense against genocide,” Said Dr. Gregory Stanton in a December interview with Kirsten Powers. “Members of such groups are also much more likely to receive preferential treatment as bona fide refugees under the U.N. convention and protocols on the status of refugees.”

Now, in addition to USCIRF, Pope Francis, and a laundry list of organizations and leaders (ranging from The American Humanist Association to the American Center for Law and Justice and ERLC President Russell Moore), the European Parliament has officially called for an international recognition that genocide is happening. Dr. Stanton, who is the President of Genocide Watch and former President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars told CR:

I hope that this historic decision by the European Parliament will result in direct action by European governments to stop ISIS genocides, and that the US Congress and President will also condemn the genocides of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.

So what’s next?

Put bluntly, genocide is a crime that, under international law, has to be halted, investigated, prosecuted and punished, but first it has to be acknowledged by the powers that be and sent up the proper channels. This is a huge step in that direction. Of course in an ideal world, since the crime is currently ongoing, it would be immediately halted by powers capable of implementing and sustaining stability in the region; CR Senior Editor Daniel Horowitz has written extensively and insightfully on how to do this both strategically and in a manner consistent with conservative principles (see below graphic).

“European countries are all parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. When any of their nationals have participated in committing or being victims of ISIS genocides, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, they could and should request referral to the ICC,” Dr. Stanton explained via email. Essentially, such a move would bypass the alternate necessity of getting a referral from the U.N. Security Council to do the same thing, which would be the case if a party to the 1948 Genocide Convention (such as the U.S.), but not the Rome Statute were to bring the issue before the Council.

dos and donts middle east strategy

Why should Americans, and especially conservatives care about this? Three reasons: religious liberty, national security and the rule of law.

Firstly, if we care about the right to freely believe, worship and express as a metaphysical human right and necessity for human flourishing, we should care just as much for those who suffer for their beliefs regardless if they are an evangelical cake baker in Oregon or a Chaldo-Assyrian nun fleeing her home in Mosul. After all, on a philosophical plane, the only differences in persecution between the two are the ideologies and preferred weapons of their oppressors.

Secondly, through Paris, Garland and San Bernardino, ISIS/Daesh and its adherents have more than proven their willingness to export this genocide to the “Kafir” (infidel) wherever he may be. This is not just ‘those people over there killing each other,’ as some said during the early days of the Bosnian genocide; unless it’s stopped and punished, this genocide is coming soon to a theater near you.

Thirdly, the United States, through the processes outlined in our own Constitution, became a signatory to a treaty saying that we would work together to prevent and punish this crime. Every time the signatories to that document hem and haw about etymology while the shadows of the past cast a pall of death over the innocent, they fall short of their own clearly stated legal and moral obligations.

Per a provision in the omnibus bill, President Obama and Secretary Kerry have until mid-march to make a similar designation. Perhaps the E.P. resolution will give them enough political cover and expediency to acknowledge the blatantly obvious.

Today in Germany, there’s a sign outside the Dachau death camp that says “never again” in five languages. While it has rather become “again and again,” Thursday’s vote in the European Parliament will hopefully bring Daesh’s victims a step closer to relief and its militants a step closer to judgment and justice.

Nate Madden is a Staff Writer for Conservative Review, focusing on religion and culture. He previously served as the Director of Policy Relations for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. A John Jay Fellow, Citadel Parliamentary Fellow and National Journalism Center alumnus, Nate has previously written for World Magazine, The Washington Times, Catholic News Service, Patheos, Ethika Politika, and The Christian Post. Follow him @NateMadden_IV