Christian missionaries describe persecution in Syria, seek help from UN

A Catholic nun and priest attended the #WeAreN2016 international congress on religious freedom, which was held April 28 to 30 in New York and sought protection from the United Nations against the brutalities of persecution.

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Sister Maria de Guadalupe and Father Rodrigo Miranda, missionaries from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, spoke to conference delegates about what Christians go through in Syria, particularly in Aleppo, the country's economic center. They said the attacks from Muslim extremists are a form of genocide because they are targeted toward Christians.

Christian communities are attacked particularly during celebrations of important feasts; buildings and other church properties are destroyed every Christmas and Easter.

Father Rodrigo said members of the church are "kidnapped, tortured, martyred, beheaded, cut in pieces." And this is not even the whole story.

He said the Muslim extremists attacked Christian children in various ways. They would throw their cars or motorcyles toward children attending a Christian school. They would bury them alive while their mothers watched. Some children were beheaded and their heads displayed in public places. Girls as young as 10 years old are repeatedly raped and sold for protistution.

Father Rodrigo said the hostility toward Christians stems from the Muslim extremist group's "hatred for Jesus Christ."

"The motivation of today's genocide is the same from the very beginning, from the roots of our very difficult coexistence with Islam," he said.

Sister Maria said Christians in Syria live in persecution every day. There is no place in the city where they can find refuge, she said. She appealed to the United Nations to act on the matter.

Advocacy group CitizenGO petitioned the U.N. on April 29 to recognize the genocide that the Islamic State is doing to Christians in Syria and Iraq. The group recommended that the issue be taken to the International Criminal Court.

For Father Rodrigo and Sister Maria, forgiveness is still important in the midst of the atrocities.

"At the end of the day we have the cross that Jesus Christ gives us, and that is the way," Sister Maria said.