Even as the Islamic State group has been all but defeated and the Syrian civil war is largely winding down in most parts of that country, there continue to be thousands upon thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing the region in hope of finding safe refuge in Europe, Conservative Tribune reports.
Unfortunately, one of the most vulnerable minority groups in the Middle East — Christians — are finding that the welcome mat laid out for thousands of Muslim refugees has been pulled back when it comes to them, at least in regard to the United Kingdom’s Home Office, according to Jihad Watch. In fact, it would appear as though the U.K. has decided that there are already enough Christians living in Britain and no more should be allowed in, regardless of the existential threat they may face in the terror-infested and war-torn regions they are fleeing from, as only Muslim refugees were permitted entry earlier this year.
That shocking revelation came from The U.K. Sunday Times over the weekend, which obtained a report from the Home Office that exposed the fact that not a single Christian from Syria was granted entry into the country in the first three months of 2018. That’s right, of the 1,112 Syrian refugees admitted into the U.K. between January and March of this year, not a single one was of the incredibly persecuted Christian faith, even as virtually all agree that minority Christians in areas populated by Islamic extremists are essentially facing genocide for their beliefs.
The Times learned this tragic news from the Barnabas Fund, a charity that supports persecuted Christians around the globe, which had obtained the information from the Home Office after a long battle under a freedom of information law. As it turns out, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had recommended that the U.K. accept some 1,358 Syrian refugees for resettlement in those first three months. Of those 1,358 refugees, 1,226 were Sunni Muslims, 127 were Shia Muslims or some other variation of Islam and four professed they were Christians, while one individual claimed to be an atheist.
The four Christians were rejected by the U.K. Home Office, even as it remains incredibly dangerous in most of Syria for Christians to live and practice their faith openly, according to Martin Parsons, head of research at the Barnabas Fund. Parsons noted that Islamic State group militants had just conducted a bombing attack that killed at least 215 people in the Syrian city of Sweida in recent days, a city that is largely composed of Druze and hosts a significant Christian minority.
Of the decision by the Home Office to reject the four Christian refugees recommended for acceptance by the UNHCR, Parsons stated, “We think there is a cultural problem. We don’t want them to prioritize Christians — we want to prioritize people on the basis of vulnerability.” In defense of its decision, the Home Office released a statement:
“The vulnerable persons resettlement scheme prioritizes the most vulnerable refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. We are working with the UNHCR and other partners to reach groups that might be reluctant to register for the scheme for fear of discrimination and unaware of the options available to them. These groups include all religious minorities.”
As is quite obvious, Christians are one of the most vulnerable religious minorities in Syria, a country that used to host upwards of two million Christians prior to the devastating civil war that disrupted their homeland. Parsons explained how the U.N. takes into account such criteria as disabilities and sexual orientation when determining how vulnerable a potential refugee is, but inexplicably doesn’t take into account the targeting of individuals for their religious faith.
“If someone is gay, the penalty under sharia is death, but if someone converts from Islam to Christianity, the penalty is also death,” said Parsons.
It should be pointed out that Parsons organization doesn’t rely solely upon the U.N. for assistance in helping persecuted Christians flee areas where they are vulnerable, and the Barnabas Fund has of their own accord arranged for some 1,500 Syrian Christians to be resettled in Australia and Poland. Unfortunately, it appears at this time that the Barnabas Fund and the persecuted Christians they seek to protect will receive no helping hand or welcoming arms from the United Kingdom’s Home Office, who instead seem to prefer allowing in more Muslims into what used to be a decidedly Christian nation.
Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access
Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.
The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.
In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.
Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.
The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.
HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.
“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”
The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.
There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.
Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”
Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”
The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.
Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”
Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party
Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.
Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”
A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.
The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.