MPs recall demand over Iraqi Christian ‘catastrophe’

UK Parliament
UK Parliament

Parliament must be recalled to debate the “catastrophe” facing Iraqi Christians and other minorities, according to Sammy Wilson.

The DUP’s MP for East Antrim yesterday demanded that MPs ditch their summer break in light of the crisis, which has seen tens of thousands of civilians forced to flee from the Islamist extremist group calling itself “the Islamic State”.

Sammy Wilson

Sammy Wilson

Mr Wilson was one of a number of voices from across the UK making the call, which came as the UN warned of a potential for “genocide” in the region, while the Westminster government said it was dispatching Chinook helicopters to help.

This month has seen an offensive by the Islamic State force large numbers of the Yazidi minority group into the mountains of northern Iraq, while its takeover of the town of Qaraqosh caused much of its Christian population to flee.

Speaking from Westminster yesterday, Mr Wilson said the UK’s response has been much too slow, and that failing to recall the Commons to discuss these attacks on minorities would be “nothing short of disgraceful”.

Mr Wilson issued a statement which read: “What is happening currently in Iraq is nothing short of a catastrophe. The terrorists of The Islamic State (or ISIS) are engaged in genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq, and it is being wilfully publicised on social media by the terrorists themselves.

“In the face of this however, action from the West, including the UK, has been woefully slow. It is not an overstatement to say that Christianity is on the verge of being wiped out.

“During a debate tabled by the DUP last December we were assured by the government how important the defence of religious freedom was. However, only a few months later the city of Mosul was emptied of its entire Christian population of some 60,000 people.

“In other Christian towns and cities the population has been forced to flee in the face of the ISIS advance.”

Meanwhile Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Commons Speaker, said: “Maybe we need to go to the extent of military action, I don’t know. But we need to somehow go to the assistance of these people.”

Parliament is now in summer recess, running from July 22 to September 1.

Mr Wilson said while recalling it “does not equate to an inevitable move to war”, it would allow debate.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard urged air strikes and drone attacks, but not sending ground forces back to Iraq.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said “it would be in the interests of the Government” to have Parliament recalled.