On the Breitbart News Network is the claim

In a region where Christians predate Muslims by centuries, over one million Christians have been killed or have had to flee because of jihadi persecution, while America is basically standing by and watching.

Is it true that one million Christians have been persecuted to death or exile by jihadis? No cite was given.

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    Have you seen the Wikipedia article on Christianity in Iraq? It seems to give a pretty good overview, with links to primary sources.
    – Is Begot
    Jul 21 '14 at 14:40
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    starting from what time period? Since the advent of jihad in the 7th century? Or in the last 10 years? Or some other time-frame.
    – warren
    Jul 25 '14 at 19:34
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    @warren That's an interesting question, thank you! The article seems to imply since the start of the Iraq war, but if you have any evidence of this claim for any time period, I think it would be welcome. Thank you so much in advance!
    – user20862
    Jul 25 '14 at 19:37
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    @Cincinnatus - thanks :) I just think a time period needs to be stated, because if you make it large enough (eg 1300 years), you're much more likely to hit the 1,000,000 number than if it's only 10 years :) As it is, it would seem trivial to look at "official" numbers regarding the total population of Christians in Iraq in, say, 2000 and compare it to today to see.
    – warren
    Jul 25 '14 at 20:04
  • I edited my answer again after you accepted it.
    – ChrisW
    Aug 13 '14 at 1:38

The claim which is the subject of the OP justifies/calculates its own numbers by saying,

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, there were at least 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Over the last ten years, significantly in the last few months with the emergence of ISIS, that figure has dropped to about 400,000.

In 2003?

Wikipedia's Christianity in Iraq article says,

In Iraq, Christians numbered about 1,500,000 in 2003, representing just over 5% of the population of the country. They numbered over 1.4 million in 1987 or 8% of the population.[1]

Wikipedia's citation for its 1987 number is IRAQ: Christians live in fear of death squads which says,

The last Iraqi census, in 1987, counted 1.4 million Christians, but many left during the 1990s when economic sanctions were imposed on the country.

Wikipedia has no citation for its 2003 number. The CIA world factbook for 2003 says,

Population: 24,683,313 (July 2003 est.)

Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

... so "1.5 million Christians in 2003" looks like it could be an over-estimate.

This BBC article (also cited by the same Wikipedia article) says,

Before the Gulf War in 1991, they numbered about one million. By the time of the US-led invasion in 2003 that figure fell to about 800,000.

In 2013?

Wikipedia goes on to say,

After the Iraq War, it was estimated that the number of Christians in Iraq had dropped to less than 450,000 by 2013[2] - with estimates as low as 200,000.[3]

The citations for these numbers are a BBC article,

Two bombs in Christian areas of the Iraqi capital Baghdad have killed at least 35 people, officials have said. One device exploded near a Catholic church when worshippers were leaving a Christmas Day service, killing 24. Another bomb ripped through a market, killing 11 more people. Christian leaders denied that the attacks had targeted worshippers. Iraq's ancient Christian community has more than halved in recent years, from an estimated population of 900,000.

... and a The Economist article dated 2014 which says,

Exact figures about Iraqi Christianity are hard to come by. It is often asserted that about 400,000 to 500,000 Christians live in the country, down from a total before the 2003 war of perhaps 1.5m. Other observers think as few as 200,000 may be left. The majority of the remaining Christians live in the far north of the country.

When was ISIS?

According to Wikipedia, ISIS and/or its earlier incarnations have been active (e.g. claiming responsibility for bombings in Baghdad) going back to 2004.

Summarizing the numbers

In summary:

  • Exact numbers are hard to determine (the last / most recent census was in 1987)
  • It would be more probable (but less spectacular) for the claim to say "up to a million" instead of "more than a million" (if the unreferenced "1,500,000 in 2003" is correct), or "half a million" (if the BBC's "800,000 in 2003" is correct).
  • The decline in population is contemporaneous with ISIS.

Is it a holocaust, genocide?

The title of the article is, "SEBASTIAN GORKA: CHRISTIAN HOLOCAUST UNDERWAY IN IRAQ, USA AND WORLD LOOK ON"; and the title of this Skeptics question includes the words, "persecuted to death".

This section in Wikipedia implies that by far the largest cause of the decline (i.e. hundreds of thousands of people) is emigration/exile, rather than being killed and/or a declining birth rate. The numbers of (living) refugees are large, perhaps too large to be compatible with any wholesale or systematic killing, for example:

As of 21 June 2007, the UNHCR estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighbouring countries with a large majority of them Christians, and 2 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month. ... Half the Christian population has fled, with an estimated 330,000 to Syria and smaller numbers to Jordan. ... Apart from emigration, the Iraqi Christians are also declining due to lower rates of birth and higher death rates than their Muslim compatriots.

The same section reports the killings of individuals and of dozens or hundreds of people, and not of hundreds of thousands.

In comparison, The Holocaust says,

Between 1941 and 1945 Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, communists, homosexuals, the mentally and physically disabled and members of other groups were targeted and methodically murdered in the largest genocide of the 20th century. In total, of the approximately 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust, over 1 million were children.[4][5] Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed.[6]

Ex-Iraqi Christians are presumably mostly still alive: they're in exile, they're refugees. "Genocide" isn't the right word for it (though "ethnic cleansing" might be).

The article quotes Dr. Sebastian Gorka as saying that America should "do something", but the article doesn't say what.

Some of the statements in the media seem to be inciting war or military intervention ... and that might be the big lie: instead, perhaps what Christians need now is humanitarian aid, refugee status, etc.

The question asks whether they've been persecuted to "death or exile" -- they have mostly chosen exile.

  • Choosing exile rather than death does seem the more logical option. Given the choice...
    – Benjol
    Aug 13 '14 at 5:28
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    So if you were exiled from your home by an agressive neighbor on false pretenses, you would not want any action taken to get back to your home? I think it's a good answer overall (+1), but the second-to-last paragraph seems very [citation needed]. Perhaps, just perhaps, they need both humanitarian aid and a way of getting back home right afterwards.
    – Spork
    Aug 13 '14 at 12:42
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    the second-to-last paragraph seems very [citation needed] @Spork Yes. The second to last paragraph is a personal/authorial aside, an opinion. Terms like "the big lie" and speculation about how to improve the future is perhaps more the realm of politics. Nevertheless, IMO the subtext/message which I get from reading these media articles ad reading people's reactions to them is that the stories are edited/chosen/slanted to pander to hatred and/or fear and/or bullying in the reader, and to incite violent retaliation: and I'm skeptical of that message/subtext.
    – ChrisW
    Aug 13 '14 at 13:46
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    I'm fine with you being skeptical of that - but why introduce new opinion based subtext of your own in your answer on a site aimed at utter objectivity? "do something" could be humanitarian aid. Your person opinion weakens your answer here.
    – Spork
    Aug 13 '14 at 13:50
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    "Contemporaneous" means "during the same time as" not "because of".
    – ChrisW
    Jan 7 '17 at 22:48

After the American crusade on Iraq, thousands of pro-Saddam employees were fired. The instability created by the occupation empowered fanatic groups that took over many cities and villages soon after the fall of Baghdad. The crusaders than used radioactive weapons to suppress revolts which caused a significant portion of Iraqi cities unhealthy for living. (The world health organization faked statistics regarding the effects of Depleted Uranium that were widely used by the crusader forces.)

The crusaders marginalized the Sunni population empowered Shia militias and turned a blind eye towards atrocities against Sunni civilians. In some cases, the violent crusaders engaged in violence themselves.

The US occupation and ethnic conflict among Iraqis ended the minority Sunni governance and allowed the Shi’ite majority to regain control, which worried Iraq’s Sunni majority neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda have taken advantage of the chaos and violence to establish a presence in Iraq https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_Iraq

The sectarian violence between fanatic Sunnis and Shias heavily affected the civilians living there. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to neighbouring countries including Christians. The Christians were perceived negatively since the crusaders share the same religion with them. Iraqi Christians leaving Iraq correlates with American crusaders bombing of Iraq's major cities.

Perhaps as many as half a million Assyrians and Chaldeans are thought to have fled the sectarian fighting in Iraq, with Christians bearing the brunt of animosity toward a perceived "crusade" by the United States in Iraq. Most chose to go to Syria due to the cultural similarities between the two countries, Syria's open-door policy to Iraqis, and the large population of Assyrians and other Christians in the country which perhaps totals as high as 2 million. The large influx of Iraqis may tip the demographic scale in a country with a diverse population. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_Iraq

Then the crusaders supplied fanatics with tons of ammunitions and pretended like they were unable to stop the fanatics (they are mostly refered by the lying CNN as "terrorists"). The fanatic group Daesh took over weapons worth 500 million dollars quite easily with very little resistance from Iraqi forces. (The crusaders didn't help the corrupt Iraqi army with their planes.)

A revealing light on how we got here has now been shone by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which uncannily predicts – and effectively welcomes – the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaeda in Iraq (which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria.

The group installed discriminatory policies towards Christians which is why thousands of Christians fled Iraq's major cities to safer places. Christians fled Iraq largely due to the occupation by crusaders not because Muslims persecuted them.

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    :-( Too much of this is political ranting, rather than answering the question. Buried in this is the legitimate answer "the large number of Christians killed or persecuted was not by jihadis, but by American forces", but it takes a lot of digging through the posturing to get there.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 7 '17 at 0:15
  • @Oddthinking The whole quote in the question is also, political rants. Jan 7 '17 at 20:46
  • +1 but I believe the questioner was looking for a breakdown of the numbers first and foremost
    – Avery
    Jan 8 '17 at 0:04
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    @MohammadSakibArifin: It is great that you notice that! Use your perspective to expose its biases, and rip apart its premises. Widen the horizons of the people who accept it. But don't give an answer that is biased in the opposite direction to try to balance it out. (e.g. "Crusader" is an emotive word, and a false equivalence. Using it detracts from the answer.)
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 8 '17 at 2:59

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