Reflections on recent Middle East developments

The assault on humanity by the jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) is dominating the headlines and the attention of world leaders. The gruesome crimes committed (and proudly flaunted on the internet) by ISIS include mass executions, beheadings, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The entire world has been shocked and appalled by these barbaric acts.

The top priority of the international community must be to protect the innocent. The use of military force is certainly a last resort, but we have seen circumstances in recent weeks and months in which military intervention has been necessary and has saved the lives of innocents. Our leaders, and President Obama in particular, have been forced to make painful and difficult decisions and will be forced to make more in coming weeks and months. They need our prayers and support. Our leaders do not need the PCUSA’s Stated Clerk recently writing a letter to them in which he rejects the use of any military force in Iraq as a response to the threat ISIS poses to the world community.

Secondly, all of the faith communities must work together to combat and eliminate religious extremism. Contrary to what some are saying, there is an increasingly clear and vocal rejection of ISIS and other jihadist groups underway in the Islamic world. The people of Egypt, a country of over 80 million, 90% of whom are practicing Muslims, overthrew and rejected the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization whose ideology (“jihad is our way, martyrdom is our greatest desire”) acts as the foundation of the global jihadist movement. Islamic religious leaders around the world have issued clear and unambiguous statements condemning ISIS and other jihadist groups around the world. Numerous American Muslim organizations have issued similar statements and press releases condemning extremism in the name of their faith and rejecting violence. We as Christians must partner with and support the many millions of moderate and peaceful Muslims to rid the world of ISIS and their ideology of hatred and violence.