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Poll: Most Americans recognize ISIS attacks on Christians as “genocide”

2016-01-23

It is a fact that ISIS regularly commits atrocities around the world. But there is some debate about what to call these acts, especially ones carried out against Christians and other religious minorities. 

Pope Francis has taken a clear position.

POPE FRANCIS
July 10, 2015
"In this third world war, waged peacemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

The Pope's opinion isn't rare. In fact, according to a new survey conducted by Marist and the Knights of Columbus, the belief is widespread.

Fifty-five percent of Americans believe ISIS's actions constitute the United Nations definition of genocide. Just 36 percent disagree.

Presidential candidates in both parties are joining the Pope in using the word genocide, including Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.

Legislation was introduced in the United States Congress last year declaring that the Islamic State is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

The law has not been passed yet, but members of Congress continue to press the White House and State Department to act.

But does it matter what the world calls these terrorist's actions? In fact, the word "genocide” has serious implications.

History proves that when the international community agrees that a "genocide” is taking place, steps are rapidly taken to stop it. Until that word becomes the norm, there is less urgency to act.

And it also matters for another key reason: Refugees leaving Syria and Iraq have a much stronger legal case to be taken in by other countries if they can say they are escaping genocide, instead of simply fleeing from war.

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