Archive for December, 2008


December 23rd, 2008

ACN News, – IRAQ

By John Pontifex

AID to the Church in Need food parcels packed with Christmas goodies have gone out to more than 750 families in Iraq who fled persecution at risk to their lives.

The Christmas hampers were despatched to villages in northern Iraq where thousands of Christians have taken refuge in temporary accommodation after campaigns of violence and intimidation in the cities of Baghdad and Mosul.

Distributing the aid over the past few weeks have been the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (Chaldean Sisters) based in the Kurdish town of Zakho, who went from house to house with the provisions.

(Sister Merna with Christmas hamper.The Daughters of Mary Immaculate went from house to house distributing provisions)

Project coordinator Fr Bashar Warda said: “The Sisters have told me just how grateful the people have been to receive the hampers. Many of them are really struggling having left everything behind them to come to the north of the country.”

The provisions – which include rice, sugar, cooking oil, tomato paste, canned meat, milk powder and cheese – have been dispersed to communities around Zakho and Mosul.

Fr Warda, who is rector of St Peter’s Seminary, now in Ankawa, a suburb of the Kurdish capital, Erbil, added: “The people are fed up of having to queue for basic food stuffs and they are also very happy with the quality of what they’re being given by the Sisters.”

Further aid has gone to poverty-stricken families in Baghdad.

(Christians in the poorest villages have received food hampers for Christmas)

Meanwhile, ACN support has also centred on Mosul following the return of most of the 15,000 people who fled in autumn following a wave of violence and intimidation.

Fr Warda said that security was now much improved, giving hope to the Mosul Christians who were desperate to return to their homes and restart their businesses.

He underlined that those still left in Mosul were the city’s poorest inhabitants who desperately need support.

The villages around Zakho where Christians have received the Christmas hampers include Naskadla, Levo and Shansh, which is one of the poorest because it is so remote.

Further aid will be going to a few isolated Christian families in Basra, south-west Iraq, but because of administrative difficulties, they will only receive the help after Christmas.

Fr Warda said Christmas would be quiet across the region, especially in Mosul where once again for the fourth year running Midnight Mass was cancelled.

Editor’s Notes:
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 45 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.




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U.S. government committee said on Tuesday that Iraq is now one of the most dangerous areas on earth for religious minorities, accusing the leaders of Iraq for being so tolerant with the attacks on Christians and other minorities.


The report that is written by U.S. Commission on International Religious Liberties set up by Congress and the President, said that the mere existence of such groups in Iraq, which is predominantly Muslim could make them face a real threat.


The report was provided after 1500 Christian family fled from attacks and intimidation in the northern city of Mosul in October. Archbishop kidnapped in the city and killed this year. The U.S. military commanders blame Sunni Islamist militants to be behind this.


The Committee, which includes members of the bipartisan, recommended, that Iraq to be classified as a “country of particular concern” due to what it called the Iraqi government tolerated violations of religious freedom. An official in the committee said that such classification could theoretically lead to sanctions.


But more likely if the U.S. government accepted these recommendations to use diplomatic channels or establish guidelines in an attempt to change the actions of the Iraqi government.


The Committee urged the U.S. government to allow members of religious minorities to apply directly to the United States for asylum applications, rather than applying for United Nations and for this they will appoint a special envoy for the protection of human rights in Iraq.


The Commission reported that religious minorities have found themselves trapped amid the conflict between the Government of Iraq’s Kurdistan and Baghdad for control of the northern areas where these minorities are concentrated!

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Murdered Bishop

By: Fa Me


Translated from original article written in Arabic. And was published on (www.ankawa.com)



            What happened to our people since first they were found on the land of two rivers, the land of Iraq, the land of our forefathers, never to happen to any other nation around the world. Pain, oppression, and unfairness, no other nation had been treated in such cruel and brutal way. The peaceful nature, and kindness of our people have been considered weakness and submission by others, it’s indeed so if we want to compare it to their monstrous methods, and the hand of evildoers has been reached not only to reap the souls of simple innocent people, but also the souls of their symbols and leaders. To show that we are the easiest prey to hunt, and kill or bargaining on. The only purpose is running special agendas to empty the country from such simple people who have no power and non can protect them, but what they don’t know that they are indigenous people of this land with deeply rooted history.


Many reports from outside Iraq have shown that some famous Iraqi politicians have received their orders, taking advantage of their status inside the government working on agitating sectarian violence in Iraq as well as ethnic cleansing to maintain minorities including Christians at their worst circumstances, draining the country from intellectuals of such nation, furthermore, preventing them to have any political access or leadership, which is something was actualized when the House of Representatives have voted to abolish article 50 and gave christians only 3 seats in the  Provincial Assemblies Election to be held on November.


This type of iniquity in broad daylight of marginalization and exclusion of indigenous components of the country, who truly want to participate in the political process, and were always optimistic about the future of this wounded and oppressed country, and nothing but their good deeds are obvious evidence of their faithful intentions with so much prosperous aspirations. And the Head of Iraqi Parliament (Mahmood Al-Mashadani) said it himself “Christians are the roses of Iraq” but unfortunately words are something and actions are something else.


In the latest report conducted by Iraqi Ministry of Migrants and Displaced People, and was published on Humanitarian News and Analysis website which is part of UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the report clarifies the number of Deaths and Displaced persons from each minority for the period between 2003 until the end of 2007, and I don’t know how much we can rely on such statistics but the truth shows us more that its said in the repot, the repot records the following:


·        The Minority of Shabak:  Shabak is a religious sect follows the combination of Islam and Christianity as well as beliefs of other religions (led the list of affected Minorities in the report).


A-    Deaths: 529 Person

B-    Displaced Families: 3578 (about 16,000 persons).



·        The Minority of Yaziddes:  they inhabit Mosul city northern Iraq, the followers of this Sect glorify “Tawoos Malak” (The Peacock Angel) and comes second on the list.


A-    Deaths: 335 Person (worst of operations were on August 2007 with 4 car bombings that took 215 lives).

B-    Displaced Families: the report didn’t indicate any specific number about displaced families.


·        Christian Minority: comes third on the list, they consist of Chaldean which are majority, Syriac and Assyrians.


A-    Deaths: 172 Person

B-    Displaced Families: 1752 (about 9000 persons).



·   The Minority of Mandaees:  this sect is known to be followers of John the Baptist in Iraq, they have many rituals including baptism inside running water, and they use Tigris and Euphrates rivers to practice such beliefs.


A-    Deaths: 127 Person

B-    Displaced Families: 62 (while 3500 families sought refuge in Jordan and 10000 families in Syria)*



From what we read above we see that those minorities have suffered enough in Iraq, and now they are neglected by the government which was her duty to protect them and maintain their security.


As for senior researcher for PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life, Brian J Grim he puts a harrowing picture for what is happening in Iraq, and how the security situation for Iraqi Christians is worsening.


“It is no small irony, of course, that the Shiite majority that’s now a leading force in Iraq was brutalized and suppressed under Saddam, who extensively curbed the Shiites’ religious freedoms. A State Department report in 2002 said Saddam’s government ‘severely restricts or bans outright many Shiite religious practices.’ One might think that those fresh memories would be enough to ensure liberties for Iraq’s religious minorities today. Yet that appears not to be the case,” writes Grim in his report.


He also writes what is supposed to be the core of Iraqi Constitution which is we should consider the major protector of Iraqis’ rights inside the new established law system but Mr. Grim thinks something else he writes: “what’s particularly devastating for Iraq’s religious minorities is the lack of clear legal protections for religious freedom. Although Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution guarantees religious freedom, it also contains what some have termed a “repugnancy clause,” which states, “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.” Because the clause does not explicitly state what the “established provisions of Islam” encompass or exclude, this opens the door for the state and the courts to become theological arbiters. As such, there are no formal avenues for religious minorities to participate in the process.

Furthermore, Article 89 of the constitution stipulates that the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court include experts in Islamic jurisprudence, which means that the provision in Article 2 will be supported by a court system with people specifically employed to interpret Islamic law. These people can be appointed without having civil law training”.


The United States thankfully has worked closely with other organizations to make sure that such people who forcefully leave Iraq get admission in the United States, the Government of Washington also have set programs for the fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to arrange capacity receiving those people into their country.


Still the truth is hurtful, and for all Iraqi population, as indigenous people of Iraq, who inhabited this land for thousands of years, in stead of being part of the government and contribute in the political process, as well as reconstructing the country, they are shattered around the world, seeking Asylum in other countries. The government rescinds any presence of them; the politicians are busy with investments and financial projects, thereby, they forget to maintain their rights, and ensure their safety first, no signs of their work to protect them from disappearing. Exclusion is another new style which is not less than any other terrorist attack on Church or Mosque or any other holy place. By such unjust decisions towards our people, which will create fears and they no more trust the government, religious leaders are frightened that there will be a new wave of migration among our people, which will lead them to disappear from the face of this country. Something we all should fear!






* Displaced Families are other than migrated families, according to UNHCR statistics there are two million Iraqi people migrated outside Iraq.


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Source (BBC News)

The pentagon has lifted a ban that prevented Iraqi translators working with US troops from wearing ski masks to conceal their identity. The ban was intended to convey a new sense of security, and show that translators no longer fear for their life.

One interpreter said, “If anyone of my neighbors see me with this uniform I will get killed.” One ground commander commented on how valuable the Iraqi translators are. He then went on to say that US troops try to protect their translator’s identity.

Initially US officials agreed with the ban. They felt that if the translators did not like their job they could work somewhere else. The ban was lifted following a congressional petition to Defence Secretary Robert Gates.


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Source (Elaph Magazine)

Few days ago, in Cairo and Washington an International Campaign to save Iraqi Christians was launched which aims to deal with Iraqi Christians who had been displaced from their country or those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes to other parts of Iraq.

The purpose of this campaign in to collect 200 signatures from many organizations and institutions from different parts of the world to be submitted later to UN-Secretary General in order to form a court or an international tribunal to judge those whom were involved in these crimes against Christians of Iraq.

Magdi Khalil, the General Coordinator of the campaign said that the number of the Iraqi Christians displaced is over 600,000 which is almost 60% of their population in Iraq, and what happened to them deserves the formation of an international committee to find the truth, in the middle of exchanged accusations from different dominant parties in Iraq, from this and that, the truth still unknown or attributed to a gelatinous part as Al-Qaeda!!.

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Maronite Cardinal

Source (Radio Sawa)


The president of Maronite Church in Lebanon Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, calls on Iraqi Government and Iraqi Authorities to protect its citizens especially Christians after the recent attacks which have occurred in Mosul City.

Today was the ending of the Annual Meeting of Catholic Patriarches Council in East and was held in Lebanon, in which Cardinal Sfeir criticised the silence surronding the tragedy of Christians in Iraq, the killings, and displacement actions by some extremist groups. The Cardinal also called on international community to take its own responsibilities and put an end to their misery.

meanwhile, non-governmental organizations in Lebanon asked for urgent help and aid for hundreds of Iraqi Christians families who came to Lebanon escaping the violence in Iraq. in the same time, European Union Countries have expressed, Thursday 2nd of December, their readiness to accept 100 thousand refugee.

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