Iraq action 

As the U.S. House of Representatives last week was considering a resolution to help protect people in Iraq, Sister Beth Murphy was receiving tragic news pointing to the measure's need.

Murphy, the volunteer services coordinator at the Archdiocese of Detroit, learned that relatives of one of her Iraqi Dominican Sisters were brutally murdered in their homes. Such reports of violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq have increased since the American military arrived, according to Human Rights Watch. In part, the instability in the region and the lack of a stable government has led to tensions between ethnic and religious groups: vandalism, beatings and killings.

"The panic it has raised has been made all too real to me through the voices of my Iraqi friends," says Murphy, who also works with the Iraq Coordinating Committee of the North American Dominicans Co-Promoters for Justice and Peace. 

She applauds the passage in the U.S. House of a resolution that calls on the U.S. government to provide support for Iraqi refugees and displaced religious minorities in the aftermath of the Iraq war. Authored by Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Hills) and supported by Detroit's Chaldean community, the resolution passed 415-3 on Feb. 24.

Voting against it were three Republican Congressmen, including libertarian-leaning former presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas). The resolution calls for investigations into human rights violations, calls for an end to the abuse of religious minorities, and urges the United States and the United Nations to insist the Iraqi government protect religious minorities.

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D-Detroit) has sponsored a similar bill in the Senate, though no vote is scheduled.

Murphy, who has visited Iraq, hopes that one is passed soon but also says more is needed to make the resolutions work.

"Unless these resolutions are strengthened by diplomatic action and demands made on the Iraqi government by the United States and the international community, they will be nothing but words on a page, sound and fury," she says.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or

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