Rep. Becerra Won't Say If Islamic State Committing Genocide Against Christians

By Penny Starr | March 1, 2016 | 2:08 PM EST

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) (AP)

( – When asked by whether violent Islamic extremists are engaged in genocide against Middle Eastern Christians and whether the Obama administration should declare it “genocide,” Rep. Xavier Bacerra (D-Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, would not answer the question, saying instead that “clear and convincing evidence” was needed to determine if genocide is occurring.

“Genocide is a term that has specific references and I think all of us want to make sure that when we start to make declarations that we are backed up by clear and convincing evidence of that,” Bacerra said.

At the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, asked Bacerra: “The Omnibus Congress passed in December requires Secretary of State Kerry to declare by March 17 whether “violent Islamic extremists” are engaging in genocide against Middle Eastern Christians and other religious minorities.  Should the Obama administration declare that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Middle Eastern Christians?”

Representative Bacerra said, “So I’m assuming -- because I don’t remember that specific provision that you’re referencing -- that the Secretary of State will be reporting soon to the Congress on his findings, or the investigative work that was done to respond to Congress’ question and concern.”

“I don’t think there’s any doubt in the minds of most people that ISIS or ISIL – whatever, however you wish to refer to them – is terrorizing people, whether they are people of the Islam faith or the Muslim faith, or whether they are people who are Christian faith or don’t declare their faith,” said Bacerra.

He continued, “How the Secretary of State responds to the question you say was posed by Congress in the funding bill last year, I think the secretary will not only give us the results of the work that they’ve done but probably emphasize just how important it is for us to do our work correctly in the Middle East to make sure we’re saving lives and putting people’s governments in order.” then asked, “But would you say that ISIS, or Islamic extremists are committing genocide?”

Islamic State members prepare to 

execute Egyptian Christians.

(YouTube screenshot)

Bacerra said, “Like everyone else, I’d like to see what the secretary comes to the Congress and reports. Genocide is a term that has specific references and I think all of us want to make sure that when we start to make declarations that we are backed up by clear and convincing evidence of that.”

“And so, without a doubt we know that ISIS is terrorizing populations,” said the congressman. “And without a doubt we see how they kill without regard. And so I’m hoping to hear back from Secretary Kerry, if indeed there is a provision that requires that.”

In the Omnibus (HR 2029), the section on “atrocities or genocide” reads as follows:

d) ATROCITIES PREVENTION.—Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, after consultation with the heads of other United States Government agencies represented on the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) and representatives of human rights organizations, as appropriate, shall submit

to the appropriate congressional committees an evaluation of the persecution of, including attacks against, Christians and people of other religions in the Middle East by violent Islamic extremists and the Muslim Rohingya people in Burma by violent Buddhist extremists, including whether either situation constitutes mass

atrocities or genocide (as defined in section 1091 of title 18, United States Code), and a detailed description of any proposed atrocities prevention response recommended by the APB: Provided, That such evaluation and response may include a classified annex, if necessary.

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