Thanks to President Donald Trump’s stunning decision last week to allow the Turks to overrun northern Syria, my Facebook page is starting to fill up with photos of Kurdish “martyrs” and tearful notes in Arabic. The most prominent is Hevrin Khalaf, a female politician somewhere in her 30s, her dark hair pulled back, a half-smile on her face, framed by the dark, expressive eyebrows I’ve seen on so many Kurds.
The Turks blocked her car, pulled her out and executed Khalaf and her driver. I’ve attached a photo of her to this post. Reports indicate that Khalaf was raped and then stoned to death.
Things are changing pretty quickly on the ground. As of Sunday night, here’s what the New York Times said was going on, namely that the Kurds asked the Syrian government (with the Russians) to intervene.
Some of the biggest protesters of Trump’s decision have been evangelical Christian leaders, who are telling Trump that he’s basically sanctioned genocide of an entire people, while threatening the safety of other religious minorities in that region, including Christians in churches ancient and modern. I wrote about this possibility in August.
Trump had held off on allowing Turkey access to the region before but every time he gets on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he is bewitched into granting whatever Erdogan wants. Sadly, in his three years in office, Trump has basically given away every valuable American asset to everyone from the Chinese to the Turks, while avoiding any insistence that these nations toe the line on religious freedom.
Anyway, there is one huge point that reporters are missing when it comes to explaining why evangelical Christians care so deeply about northern Iraq. It goes way beyond the historic Assyrian Christian communities being allowed to function there.
Which is: The Kurds are the most open people group in the Middle East to Christianity and a number of these now-former Muslims are newly minted evangelicals.
Christianity Today is closest to pointing out this truth.
Christian voices are also keen to preserve the unique peace achieved between Kurds, Arabs, and Christians. Since 2014 a social charter has ensured democratic governance, women’s rights, and freedom of worship.
The town of Kobani, on the Turkish border, hosts a Brethren church composed of converts from Islam. Around 20 families worship there, and the church’s pastor, Zani Bakr, arrived last year from Afrin, displaced by an earlier Turkish incursion.
There were a bunch of news stories back in February about this new church.