REX/Gail Orenstein/NurPhoto

Britons against offering Iraq's Christians asylum

Tue 19 Aug 2014
By Desmond Busteed

Only one in four think the government should offer asylum to Iraq's persecuted Christians, according to Comres

The majority of Britons don't want the government to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians facing persecution by Islamist militants Islamic State (IS).

A Comres poll suggests only one in four (24%) think they should be allowed to come and stay in the UK, while half (50%) disagree. Only one in six (16%) say the same of Iraqi Muslims at risk of persecution, but 58% disagree.

Nick Spencer, research director at Christian think tank Theos, who's written books on the Christian response to asylum and immigration in the UK isn't surprised by the poll's findings; on Premier's 'News Hour', he said: "It's partly driven by a confusion between asylum and immigration. People often talk about asylum seekers and immigrants in the same breath, when of course they're very different categories".

The UN's launching a major aid operation to help more than half a million people, who've fled from militants in northern Iraq. A four-day airlift of tents and other supplies will begin tomorrow. Road convoys from Turkey and Jordan will start over the next 10 days.

Islamic State of Iraq issued a decree in July that all Christians in the area of its control must pay a special tax per family, convert to Islam, or leave. Many of them took refuge in nearby Kurdish-controlled regions of Iraq.

Earlier President Obama revealed Iraqi and Kurdish forces helped by U.S. airstrikes have retaken the Mosul Dam from the Islamic State, however fighting in the area has reportedly resumed.

Barack Obama said: "with our support Iraqi and Kurdish forces took a major step forward by recapturing the largest dam in Iraq near the city of Mosul. The Mosul dam fell under terrorist control earlier this month and is directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq".

The Islamic State militant group has warned the United States in an internet video it will attack Americans "in any place" if the air strikes against its fighters continue.

The message includes a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and also American troops being shot by snipers.

It carries a warning statement, on screen in English, "we will drown all of you in blood".

Nick Spencer, Theos:

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