Leonard Leo, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), warned in a video interview with Terry Jeffrey at CNSNews.com that despite the long-term U.S. military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, Christianity may well be wiped out in the region because, as CNSNews put it, of “severe and persistent persecution of Christians there” by Muslims.
We are looking at two different countries where the United States invaded, occupied, changed their governments in the last decade — Iraq and Afghanistan — where it’s possible Christianity might be eradicated in our lifetime?
To which Leo replied:
Yes, and, unfortunately, that is sort of the pattern throughout the Middle Eastern region. The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year. It’s a very, very alarming situation.
In its annual report, USCIRF observed:
Half or more of the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian community is believed to have left the country, with Christian leaders warning that the consequence of this flight may be the end of Christianity in Iraq. … In 2003, there were thought to be 800,000 to 1.4 million Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East members, Syriac Orthodox, Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox), Protestants, and Evangelicals in Iraq. Today, community leaders estimate the number of Christians to be around 500,000.
Leo called the process of drafting the Afghan constitution “a disaster.” He noted that there is just one remaining Jew in Afghanistan and that the last Christian church in the country was closed.