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PHOTO RELEASE: Rubio Reinforces Commitment To Religious Freedom After Meeting With Christian Clergy During Visit to Iraq

May 4, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – As part of an official trip to the Middle East this week, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today met with the Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq, Bashar Matti Warda, and the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul, Nicodemus Sharaf, to discuss the plight of the Christian community in Iraq and Syria and efforts to help people of faith in the region, especially religious minorities, preserve their traditions, history and ultimately presence in the lands they’ve inhabited since antiquity.

“It was very important to me to show all Christians in the Middle‎ East that I stand in solidarity with them, and will continue praying for their safety and working on their behalf in the Senate,” said Rubio. “I was inspired by these brave individuals of faith who refuse to be silenced by intolerant and hateful barbarians like ISIS. This visit has renewed my commitment to them and religious freedom everywhere around the world.”

Rubio is a longtime advocate for religious freedom in the Middle East. Since 2014, Rubio characterized the Islamic State atrocities against religious minorities as genocide. It wasn’t until two years later that the Administration determined that ISIS has been committing genocide against Christians, Yezidis and others in Iraq and Syria. Rubio was also an original cosponsor of S. Res. 340, Senate legislation finding that ISIS has engaged in genocide and was instrumental in shepherding it through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.

Also last week, Rubio introduced the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, a bill which would give the State Department new tools to support the promotion of international religious freedom globally and counter the spread of violent extremism.

Below are photos of Rubio’s meeting earlier today with Christian officials in Iraq:

Rubio being greeted by the Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq, Bashar Matti Warda:

Rubio being greeted by the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul, Nicodemus Sharaf: 

Rubio meeting with the Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq, Bashar Matti Warda: 

Rubio with the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul, Nicodemus Sharaf, the Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq, Bashar Matti Warda, and the U.S. Consul General in Erbil, Matthias Mitman. 

Rubio eating lunch with the Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq, Bashar Matti Warda:

Note: All photos can be credited to the office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.