A leader in the Iraqi community in eastern San Diego County is redoubling his efforts to rescue Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities facing slaughter by Sunni militants of the Islamic State.
Mark Arabo had earlier petitioned the White House to take military action to stop the militants from killing Christians and others as they attempt to form a caliphate in Syria and northern Iraq.
Now that President Obama has ordered airstrikes, and is said to be considering further actions, Arabo has turned his efforts to persuading Obama and the United Nations to authorize an airlift to rescue tens of thousands of Christians and others.
He has been in contact with White House officials, including Rumana Ahmed, who is part of a White House effort to reach out to American Arabs and Muslims.
Arabo, 31, a Chaldean Christian born in the U.S., has forwarded to the White House the names of several thousand Iraqi Christians who are trapped and several hundred Americans willing to act as immigration sponsors.
“I want to give voices to the voiceless, names to the nameless,” said Arabo, executive of the El Cajon-based Neighborhood Market Assn.
This week, he will travel to Detroit to gather more names and encourage political support for an airlift to the U.S. and Europe. Detroit and eastern San Diego County are the two largest Iraqi immigrant communities in the United States.
Arabo is also working with Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) to fashion legislation to call for a rescue and to lift the immigration quotas from the Middle East.
“My fear is that if we don’t do something now, someday I’ll be going to New York to dedicate a memorial museum with all the names,” he said.
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