Mr. Speaker, the genocidal activity of ISIL has gone too far for far too long. The desperate situation in Iraq and Syria is daily highlighted by ISIL's targeting of religious minorities. These communities have been integral to the cultural, intellectual and moral heritage of the Middle East for centuries.
Yazidis are being forced to leave their lands and compromise their faith, which is so closely tied to these sacred spaces. ISIL is desecrating mosques, churches have been destroyed, priceless Iraqi and Assyrian artifacts have been looted, and atrocities are common. Children are kidnapped and tortured, women and girls raped, and men brutally murdered, simply because of who they are.
For Canada, this is not just a military mission. We are committed to developing and protecting religious freedoms, especially for those minorities who formed the cultural fabric of this area.
Today, we welcome to Ottawa leaders from many of the affected religious communities. We want them to know that we stand with them in this difficult time of persecution.