Most refugees who enter the U.S. as religious minorities are Christians

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A little over a third of the refugees who were admitted into the United States in fiscal 2016 (37%) were religious minorities in their home countries. Of those, 61% were Christians, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

Muslims, the next largest group, made up 22% of the religious minority refugees who were admitted to the U.S. Other, smaller world religions and Hindus made up the bulk of the remaining religious minority refugees (9% and 6%, respectively).

The analysis comes as Donald Trump’s administration has announced it will give priority to religious minorities who apply for refugee status in the U.S. Trump himself has said that Christians will be given preference

The landscape is different when it comes to the two-thirds of refugees who entered the U.S. as religious majorities in fiscal 2016. Six-in-ten of these refugees (60%) were Muslim and 35% were Christian. Buddhists made up 6% of these refugees, coming mostly from Burma (Myanmar) and Bhutan.

The U.S. admitted 85,000 refugees in 2016. Almost all came from these 10 countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (19%), Syria (15%), Burma (15%), Iraq (12%), Somalia (11%), Bhutan (7%), Iran (4%), Afghanistan (3%), Ukraine (3%) and Eritrea (2%).

Christians are a religious majority in three of these 10 countries. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo – from which the U.S. accepted the largest number of refugees (over 16,000) in 2016 – is a predominantly Christian nation, split almost evenly between Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians. The vast majority (93%) of refugees accepted from that country were of these Christian denominations. Similarly, 61% of refugees coming to the U.S. from Eritrea in 2016 were Orthodox Christians, the majority religious group.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH 

Christians and Muslims fight to protect ancient Christian town against ISIS

sadadAs ISIS advances on Sadad, a strategic Syrian town near Homs, hundreds of Christian and Muslim fighters are battling to defend it.

Islamic State militants began an offensive in the ancient Assyrian heartlands on October 31, capturing Maheen, a town just four miles from Sadad.

Sadad is considered strategic because it lies between Homs and Damascus, the capital of Syria, and two years ago was overrun by ISIS. It was recaptured by the Syrian army, but not before almost 50 Christians were massacred, and believers are once again fleeing the town in fear of the militants. The population of the town has dropped from 15,000 to just 2,000 in the past few months.

In an interview with Newsweek, Mor Ignatius Aphrem Karim II, the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, confirmed that Sadad is under siege. But as the militants attack, at least 200 Syriac Christian fighters have been joined by Muslims from across Syria in an attempt to push them back.

“IS advanced toward Sadad but they were not able to enter,” Karim said. “The young people in Sadad, with the help of some armed groups, were able to fight back and push IS back to where they started. They are helped by some groups coming from different parts of Syria also.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

Isis wants Christians and Muslims to fight a war. Will Republicans take the bait?

The distended Republican presidential field’s response to the terror attacks in Paris is a conglomeration of policy proposals that look something like this: a ground invasion of Syria and Iraq that will explicitly be less careful about killing civilians, combined with a policy of relief for refugees only if they’re Christians.

One can almost see the Islamic State’s top ideologues and propagandists celebrating. And why not? Muslims the world over, which Isis views (wrongly) as a sea of potential recruits, could be forgiven for viewing the Republican rhetoric as a declaration of holy war against their co-religionists.

I wish my thumbnail descriptions of Republicans’ talking points were a joke, but they’re not. And the policies described by the candidates line up almost exactly with the image of America that Isis seeks to portray in its propaganda. The target for Isis’s messaging was made abundantly clear in a statement last month from the group: “Islamic youth everywhere, ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders’ war against Muslims,” said Isis spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.

When I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians, but not the Muslims … when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN 

Don’t ‘scapegoat’ Syrian refugees, Catholic bishops and evangelicals say

refugees(CNN)Two of the country’s largest and most influential religious groups, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals, are urging the United States not to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees after the deadly terrorist attack in Paris last Friday.

“Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let’s not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS,” Leith Anderson, NAE president, said on Tuesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for a “pause” in the U.S. program accepting Syrian refugees and 27 governors have said they will not welcome them, though they have little legal authority to bar the federal government from settling refugees in their states.

Meanwhile, almost every GOP presidential candidate has said the United States should stop admitting Syrian refugees. Ted Cruz told CNN that the country should deny entry to Muslim refugeesfrom Syria, but leave the door open to fleeing Christians. Jeb Bush said that refugee resettlement should “focus” on Christians.

Tuesday’s announcements from the Catholic bishops and evangelical association, which represents some 45,000 churches, put several candidates squarely at odds with their religious leaders. Sen. Marco Rubio, Bush and Chris Christie are Catholic. Cruz and Mike Huckabee are evangelicals.

“I am disturbed … by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States,” Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the Catholic bishops’ committee on migration, said on Tuesday.

“These refugees are fleeing terror themselves — violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.”

Only 1,500 Syrian refugees have been accepted into the United States since 2011, but the Obama administration announced in September that 10,000 Syrians will be allowed entry next year.

At least one of the suspects believed to be involved in the Paris terrorist attacks that killed 129 entered Europe among the current wave of Syrian refugees. He had falsely identified himself as a Syrian named Ahmad al Muhammad and was allowed to enter Greece in early October.

But the United States has a “strong track record” for screening refugee applicants, Anderson said.

“It is more thorough and careful than the screening for tourist and student visas to the United States. A tourist with a French passport does not need screening or a visa; a refugee from Syria must pass multiple careful tests for eligibility.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN 

Muslims, Christians partner to bring refugees to Victoria (Canada)

Masjid-al-Iman-picMuslims and Christians are forming a partnership in an effort to bring refugee families to Victoria.

They will work to help two or three families that have fled violence in countries such as Syria or Iraq. Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.

The partnership brings together Masjid Al-Iman with Oak Bay United Church and St. Aidan’s United Church in Saanich.

The groups are a good match, said Ismail Mohamed Nur, the mosque’s imam.

Nur said the Muslim community is “very happy” to be able to work with the Christian groups.

“It’s something that’s been echoed on their side, as well,” he said.

“One of the things that we’ve been talking about when we’ve gotten together is the fact that these kinds of issues, it makes us put our differences aside.”

Nur said that while Christianity and Islam have differences, “at the same time, we have more things in common.”

“One of those things is helping people,” he said.

“This is a real-case scenario where our action or inaction will actually affect people’s lives.”

He said that getting refugees to a new home is just part of the process.

“The first part of helping those people is to bring them to a better place, to Canada, but that’s just half of the story,” he said.

“The second part is helping them integrate into society and taking care of their needs.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE COLONIST 

Why I want Pope Francis on my team

immigrantsHaroon Moghul is a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. He is an author, essayist and public speaker. Follow him @hsmoghul. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)I’d like to invite His Holiness Pope Francis to convert to Islam. I hope the world’s Catholics don’t misunderstand me. In fact, I hope they see my overture as a compliment — we’d love to have him on our team, even though it’s a desperate concession. I mean, have you seen who’s on our team?

There’s no Muslim figure cHaroon Moghulomparable to Pope Francis, and certainly none with the kind of platform he enjoys. We Sunni Muslims used to have a Caliph, but not since 1924. Of course, we do have leaders who aspire to similar authority, including Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, whose official titles include that of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

Sounds nice, right? Virtuous, humble, devotional: He leads by serving. And leads who? Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Christianity’s largest denomination. Saudi Arabia claims to be, and is often described as, the principal Sunni Muslim power, leading the world’s more than 1 billion Sunnis, though its government isn’t even chosen by its own citizens.

ISIS Violates The Consensus Of Mainstream Islam By Persecuting Christians

0,,17730405_404,00In central Syria, Daesh (“ISIS”) recently destroyed an ancient monastery and a church. This, after abducting several Christians, in what has become the group’s long scourge on humanity. While global Muslim leaders have categorically condemned Daesh, Daesh continues to insist their acts are permitted — even commanded — by Islam.

But if, as Daesh claims, Islam obliges Muslims to raze monasteries, kidnap Christians and rape women, then several questions arise.

For example, how then did an ancient Christian monastery survive this long? Built in 432, or roughly 180 years before Islam’s advent, this monastery withstood nearly 1,500 years of Muslim rule in peace.

Likewise, how did Syria’s 2.3 million Christians, or 10 percent of the Syrian population, survive all these centuries? For centuries, Muhammad and Muslims have practiced a religion foreign to the one Daesh practices.

Contrary to Daesh’s ignorance and propaganda, Prophet Muhammad sought to protect the rights of Christians.

To begin with, the Qur’an 3:114 praises Christians and refers to them as “the People of the Book,” afforded immense respect. The Qur’an 2:63 additionally acknowledges that Christians can and will attain divine reward. Moreover, the Qur’an 22:40-41 explicitly forbids destroying any house of worship, including churches.

Irrespective of what religion people follow, the Qur’an 60:9 commands Muslims to be kind and equitable to all those who do not persecute them and drive them out of their homes on account of their faith. Likewise, the Qur’an 8:61-63 forbids fighting anyone, regardless of faith, who “inclines towards peace.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST