Syrian Refugees Admitted Since Paris Attack:1 Christian, 482 Muslims; 0.2% Christian

Patrick Goodenough | January 18, 2016 | 5:12pm EST
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Syrian refugees at the Zaatari camp in Jordan. (Photo: UNHCR/S. Malkawi)

( – The United States has approved the settlement of 483 Syrian refugees since the Paris terror attacks last November heightened concerns about potential security risks in the refugee admission program – and only one of them (0.2 percent) is a Christian.

One-quarter of the 483 Syrian refugees admitted into the United States since Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) terrorists attacked the French capital on November 13--125 of them--are men between the ages of 14 and 50.

The sole Christian among the 483 is identified in State Department Refugee Processing Center data as an adherent of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Christians account for an estimated 10 percent of the Syrian population. ISIS has frequently singled out Christians and other non-Muslim minorities in its brutal campaign in both Syria and Iraq.

The vast majority of the refugees admitted since the Paris attacks are Sunnis--470 (97.3 percent). Three (0.6 percent) are Shi’ites and nine (1.8 percent) are individuals identified as “Moslem.”  (The department says religious affiliation categories are those preferred by the refugees themselves; In addition to mainstream Sunnis and Shia, Syria is home to Muslims from the Alawite and Ismaili sects. President Bashar al-Assad is Alawite.)

Apart from the 125 men between the ages of 14 and 50, another 106 (21.9 percent) of the refugees from Syria admitted since Nov. 13 are women aged 14-50, and 228 are children aged under 14 – 118 boys and 110 girls.

At least two of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks had posed as Syrian refugees, according to investigators.

The attack prompted a number of Republican governors and several of the GOP presidential candidates have called on the Obama administration to reconsider a plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the current fiscal year.

Concerns deepened after the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif. by an ISIS-inspired U.S.-born son of Pakistani migrants and his Pakistani-born wife. Last week, two Iraqi-born refugees in the U.S. appeared in federal court on terror-related charges.

The U.S. Senate is now considering taking up legislation that passed in the House of Representatives with a veto-proof majority last November, requiring additional screening for refugee applicants from Syria and Iraq.

Since FY 2016 began on October 1, the government as of Monday has admitted 774 of the planned 10,000 Syrian refugees.  Of the 774, just six (0.7 percent) are Christians, comprising three Catholics, one Greek Orthodox, one Orthodox and one person identified simply as “Christian.”

Of the rest, 756 (97.6 percent) are Sunnis, three (0.3 percent) are Shia, and nine (1.1 percent) are “Moslem.”

According to Refugee Processing Center data, 197 (25.4 percent) of the 774 admitted since Oct. 1 are men aged between 14 and 50.

The remainder comprise 168 (21.7 percent)women aged 14-50; 371 (47.9 percent) are children, of whom 196 are boys and 175 are girls; and 38 (4.9 percent) are older than 50, of whom 21 are men and 17 are women.

Since the Syrian civil war began with a violent state crackdown on anti-government protests in mid-March 2011, a total of 2,647 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S.  Of them, 2,4751 (93.5 percent) are Sunnis, an additional 69 are “Moslem” and 16 are Shia.

Only 54 (2.0 percent) are Christians (including five Orthodox, one Greek Orthodox and four Catholics). Accounting for the others are eight Jehovah’s Witness, six Zoroastrians, three atheists, two Baha’i, one Yazidi, seven “no religion” and six “other religion.”

Of the total 2,647 Syrian refugees admitted since March 2011, 719 (27.1 percent) are men aged between 14 and 50.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has called on the State Department to prioritize Syrian refugee applicants who have been targeted for religious reasons.

At the same time the USCIRF, an independent statutory watchdog, acknowledges that ISIS “has also targeted both Shia and Sunni Muslims who have resisted their violent ideology.”

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