DENVER – A group of religious leaders, including Catholic Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Imam Sheik Dr. Ahmed A. Nabhan, of the Colorado Muslim Society, are signing a joint statement urging the Obama administration to work to stop the Islamic State's violent activities in Iraq.
Islamic State, known more commonly as ISIS (for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) has been terrorizing civilians in Iraq by threatening death to Christians and even Shiite Muslims if they don't convert to the Islamic State's brand of Islam.
In Denver, Archbishop Aquila says he is "encouraged by the U.S. administration's humanitarian and military efforts to protect those who are being threatened by ISIS."
President Obama ordered U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State but has not committed ground troops. The U.S. pulled its combat forces out of Iraq between 2009 and 2011. The president has consistently resisted beginning any new U.S. combat initiatives in spite of the increasingly turbulent situation inside Iraq.
Archbishop Aquila said ISIS/Islamic State represents something that all religions and nations should oppose.
"This is a case where we have an aggressor who is determined to impose its rule on innocent, defenseless human beings through killing and brutal aggression," he said
The group calls its initiative PLACE, for Peace, Love and Co-Existence, organized by Father Andre Y-Sebastian Mahanna, director of Ecumenical and Inter-Faith relations for the Maronite Catholic Eparch of Our Lady of Lebanon, and Archbishop Aquila.
"They're killing our people," said Elias Naoum, a deacon at the Syriac Orthodox Christian church in Denver. "They're killing our children just for killing. Not for any other goal, just for killing. Please, we need help."
Sheik Dr. Nabhan said Muslims stand with Christians and Jews in opposition to ISIS/Islamic State.
"I would like to raise my voice against ISIS," Nabhan said.
He says Muslims, Christians and Jews must work together "to cut off the ways of evil everywhere, not only in Iraq or Syria. This is our responsibility to all our Lords."
Dr. Shaul Gabbay added a Jewish perspective to the group. Dr. Gabbay is a professor of international studies at the University of Denver and a former member of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The joint statement signed by the group calls for President Obama "…to work urgently through diplomatic channels and ethical intervention to stop the murder and persecution of Christians in the Middle East," and "with equal urgency to oppose the persecution of Jews and Muslims in the Middle East."
The group has scheduled an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Colfax and Logan in Denver at 7:00 p.m. Monday.
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