Do ISIS’s atrocities against Christians, Yazidis and Shias really amount to genocide?

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A masked, black-clad militant, who has been identified by the Washington Post newspaper as a Briton named Mohammed Emwazi, stands next to a man purported to be Steven Sotloff in this still image from a video obtained from SITE Intel Group website February 26, 2015. The "Jihadi John" killer who has featured in several Islamic State beheading videos is Emwazi, a Briton from a middle class family who grew up in London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming, the Washington Post newspaper said. In videos released by Islamic State (IS), the masked, black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have carried out the beheadings of hostages including Americans and Britons. The Washington Post said Emwazi, who used the videos to threaten the West and taunt leaders such as President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, was believed to have travelled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined IS. British government sources and the police refused to confirm or deny the report, citing a live anti-terrorism investigation, a position mirrored by a spokeswoman for Cameron.  REUTERS/SITE Intel Group via Reuters TV   (CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT POLITICS SOCIETY)

ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. MANDATORY CREDIT - RTR4R9OY

A masked, black-clad militant, who has been identified by the Washington Post newspaper as a Briton named Mohammed Emwazi, stands next to a man purported to be Steven Sotloff in this still image from a video obtained from SITE Intel Group website February 26, 2015. The "Jihadi John" killer who has featured in several Islamic State beheading videos is Emwazi, a Briton from a middle class family who grew up in London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming, the Washington Post newspaper said. In videos released by Islamic State (IS), the masked, black-clad militant brandishing a knife and speaking with an English accent appears to have carried out the beheadings of hostages including Americans and Britons. The Washington Post said Emwazi, who used the videos to threaten the West and taunt leaders such as President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, was believed to have travelled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined IS. British government sources and the police refused to confirm or deny the report, citing a live anti-terrorism investigation, a position mirrored by a spokeswoman for Cameron. REUTERS/SITE Intel Group via Reuters TV (CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT POLITICS SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. MANDATORY CREDIT - RTR4R9OY

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Religious freedom advocates are calling for President Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to label ISIS’s actions against religious and ethnic minorities “genocide.” Does the label fit? 13 experts weigh in.

  • Cindy Parker

    This IS genocide, systematic slaughter and singling out. How sad the question is even asked.

  • “A rose by any other name …” There have been genocides declared before with lots of international outcry but very little action. Would the needed strategy against IS be somehow changed if their acts are officially declared “genocide” by a body authorized to do so? It seems to me the world is spending an awful lot of time overthinking this instead of facing it for what it is. We know of the atrocities not because of clever investigating but because IS wants the world to know what they’re doing. So what is left to do? We’ve been talking about IS since before President Obama referred to them as “JV”. We little people have little hope that much more will happen than what is already happening.

  • Larry

    “Would the needed strategy against IS be somehow changed if their acts are officially declared “genocide” by a body authorized to do so?”

    Kinda. It would be far easier to mobilize UN forces to both combat IS and protect their victims. Plus it puts IS leaders on notice that their capture will lead to international tribunals.

    Btw Elizabeth Shakman Hurd’s answer was complete garbage. The only one of the group who wasn’t crystal clear that we are seeing genocide here. She is denying that genocide should ever be used to describe such situations. A way to denude genocide from its real meaning and impact by feigning concern for all forms of violence.

  • Jack

    For once, I am in agreement with Larry. As for Hurd, just read her articles and see where she’s coming from. I find her views wrong-headed and even deplorable, you’ll find an icy consistency to them once you read her writings.

  • Bernado

    Do ISIS’s atrocities against Christians, Yazidis and Shias really amount to genocide? – Of course they do and all dictated by the koran.

  • Larry

    And yet they are being protected by the Kurds. People who happen to be Muslim as well. In fact Kurds are the only combatants in the Syrian Civil War who have provided protection of religious minorities targeted by IS.

  • Betty Clermont

    “Pope Francis has urged the international community to take action to help Christians in the Middle East” (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/knights-of-columbus-unveil-new-campaign-to-aid-middle-east-christians-95682/)
    as have many, many other Catholic leaders. My fear is that the “persecution of Christians” is being amplified as a casus belli for another US led invasion.

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  • Jack

    That is correct, Larry.

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