Middle East

Pope says no one country should stop Islamist militants

Pope Francis kisses a child as he greets Catholic faithful from his Popemobile upon arriving for Mass at Gwanghwamun square in Seoul August 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Korea Pool/Yonhap)

ROME: Pope Francis said Monday the international community would be justified in stopping Islamist militants in Iraq but that it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to act.

“In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression I can only say that it is legitimate to stop the unjust aggressor,” he told reporters on a plane returning from South Korea in response to a question about U.S. airstrikes against ISIS insurgents who have overrun much of the country’s north.

Proclaiming a caliphate straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, the militants have swept across northern Iraq and driven tens of thousands of Christians and members of the Yazidi religious minority from their homes.

The pope suggested he was not giving a automatic green light for bombings or war but that the situation was grave and the international community had to respond together.

“I underscore the verb ‘to stop.’ I am not saying ‘bomb’ or ‘make war,’ but ‘stop him.’ The means by which he can be stopped must be evaluated. Stopping the unjust aggressor is legitimate,” he said.

“One single nation cannot judge how he is to be stopped, how an unjust aggressor is to be stopped,” he said.

He said the U.N. was the proper forum to consider the issue and to ask: “Is there unjust aggression? It seems so. How do we stop it?”

In response to another question, the pope said he had considered going to Iraq during the crisis but decided against it. “At this moment, it would not be the best thing to do but I am willing to do it,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 19, 2014, on page 8.




Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here