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Archive for March, 2009

Frank R. Wolf

Frank R. Wolf

Congressman Frank R. Wolf (10th District, Virginia) has send a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton regarding the perilous situation of the Christians of Iraq, who have in the past six years subjected to intense ethnic and religious persecution. It is estimated that nearly 50% of Christians have fled Iraq since 2004. Christians in Syria and Jordan comprise 40% of Iraqi refugees, though they are only 8% of Iraq’s population.

 

and this is the text of Congressman Wolf’s letter to Secretary Clinton:

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Dear Secretary Clinton:

I recently received two responses from the Department of State to two different letters I had written regarding the plight ofIraq’s besieged ethno-religious minorities, specifically the ancient Christian community. Both of the letters were signed by the acting assistant secretary for Legislative Affairs. While I am familiar with the internal clearance process ofthe department, and gather that these responses reflect the administration’s position, I respectfully request that any future letters come from the corresponding assistant secretary who has responsibility for the issue at hand.I found that the department’s response to my letters did not address the core of my concerns-namely the department’s lack of a comprehensive policy to address the unique plight ofthese minority communities. While I am encouraged by the overall improvements in the security situation in Iraq, these are not yet a reality for all ofthe people of Iraq. A March 18 Christian Post article lead with the following sentence: “Nearly six years since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Iraqi’s are increasingly saying that their country is becoming a safe place to live, according to a recent survey. For Christians, however, the daily threat of violent attacks means these are still uncertain times.”

I have also repeatedly asked, consistent with the recommendations put forward by the

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, that you appoint a special envoy or some other high-ranking official, responsible for human rights, to our embassy in Baghdad. This individual should report directly to you and serve as the lead human rights official in Iraq for the United States.

The recently released State Department Country Reports on Human Rights documented the targeted oppression and killings that the Christian community in Iraq experienced over the course ofthe last year. Below are a few excerpts:

“In general Christian residents in the north saw increased threats in the second half ofthe year, for example in Mosul during October;”

“In October, 12 Christians were reported killed in Mosul. The attacks began after hundreds of Christians began protesting an initial parliamentary removal of guarantees of seats for minorities on provincial councils in Mosul and the surrounding area. According to UNHCR, 2,000 Chrsitian families fled Mosul after the attacks;”

“In January, Christian churches and convents were the target often reported bomb attacks.”

Give these realities, nothing short of a comprehensive policy will suffice. The stakes are high. Renowned religion scholar Philip Jenkins recently authored a book titled The Lost History /Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age a/the Church in The Middle East, Africa, and Asia-and How It Died. In a Christianity Today interview about the book, Jenkins had a devastating prediction for this faith community saying, “Iraq is a classic example of a church that is killed over time. The church will probably cease to exist within my lifetime.” .

Do not allow the church in Iraq to die on your watch.

Frank R. Wolf

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Father Mofeed

Father Mofeed

 

By Terry Mccarthy

ABC) — We first met Father Mofeed Toma in 2004, when he was abbot of the Christian monastery in the town of Al Qosh in the mountains of northern Iraq, near the Turkish border. That part of Iraq is controlled by the Kurdish authorities and has never really been touched by the war. We spent several days with Father Mofeed, and in those early days he was hopeful that Iraq’s 2 million Christians would not be drawn into the power struggle to the south between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

But in the years that followed, insurgents began attacking Christian businesses, particularly liquor stores, which were legal but unpopular with some Muslim extremists. And Christian businessmen were kidnapped for ransom in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul, starting an exodus of Christians from those cities. Some emigrated to Europe and the United States, while others went north to find refuge in Kurdistan.

Al Qosh received its share — some 800 Christian families came to the small town, increasing the population by one third. These newcomers built houses in the small town and sought to adapt to living in the quiet countryside so far from the cities where they grew up. Some started businesses trucking goods in from Turkey, others took to farming.

Meanwhile Father Mofeed had moved — he was first transferred to Mosul, where he was kidnapped by Sunni extremists in 2006. They demanded money from him, to which he replied that as a priest he had no money, and even if he did he would give it to the poor and not to the bandits who had abducted him. The extremists gave up and released him, but he moved out of Mosul for his own safety. Not long afterwards another Christian priest who was kidnapped was beheaded. Last year Father Mofeed noticed that some of the Christian families who had moved to the north were talking about going back to their homes in Baghdad. He counselled caution, since it was unclear that the reduction in violence was permanent. But as the security situation continued to improve, families started to trickle back. When we visited Al Qosh last week the postmaster told us that 50 of the 800 new families had gone back down south, and others we spoke to said they were planning to go in the near future.

But while Father Mofeed is now cautiously optimistic about the situation inside Iraq, he is saddened that so many of the Christians who used to live there have gone overseas — about half, by some calculations. He thinks that very few of these families will come back, and fears that the long Christian tradition in Iraq might get sidelined if too few remain. That would take away a valuable strand of pluralism in Iraq that for centuries has been very tolerant of Christians.

Iraq’s civil conflict has principally been between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, with Christians getting caught sometimes in the crossfire. But how Christians are treated and how many decide to remain in the country now will be a telling indicator of the overall level of tolerance and civility in the new Iraq as it apparently emerges from war. We will be staying in touch with Father Mofeed to help us see how things develop in the coming years.

 

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source: DW TV.

More than 100 Iraqi Christians have arrived in Hanover. They’re the first wave of a contingent of 2,500 Iraqis expected to relocate to Germany as part of a program sponsored by the UNHCR.

The first group of Iraqis to arrive in Germany had previously been living in refugee camps in Jordan and Syria. Upon their arrival on Thursday, March 19, they will initially be housed in northern Germany and issued with three-year, extendable residency permits.

That means their chances of successfully integrating into their new community in Germany will be better than many other Iraqi refugees who’ve been here for much longer, but who’ve been forced to live on the periphery of society, asylum experts say. Many of them have only a Duldung — a certificate that states that they are in Germany illegally, and that their deportation has been put off indefinitely.

The continuing civil war in Iraq prevents refugees from being sent back to their homeland; a situation that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

“We think that it is only fair to issue the Iraqis who are living here illegally with a residency permit,” said Kai Weber of the refugee council in the state of Lower Saxony.

Weber would like to spare asylum seekers a fate like that of Ghassan El-Zuhairy, an Iraqi who fled his country in 2002 and his since been living in Lower Saxony without a residency permit. Because of his status, he is not allowed to move freely within Germany — a restriction that cost the trained metal worker his job once it became clear he would not be able to travel to other German states to deliver parts to customers. Now, El-Zuhairy is on welfare, and deeply unhappy.

El-Zuhairy

El-Zuhairy

“I don’t have any plans at the moment,” he said. “I can’t live without goals, because I get ill — mentally ill.”

El-Zuhairy took it upon himself to learn German because his status doesn’t give him the right to attend German language classes.

It’s an intolerable situation, Weber said, referring to the Iraqi refugees now arriving from Syria and Jordan.

“You can’t say that because of the situation in Iraq we’ll take in these victims of war, while at the same time, you’re thinking concretely of how you can one day send them back to their country,” Weber said. “From our point of view, this just doesn’t work. We have to have a concept of how to offer these Iraqis a real chance at a life in Germany.”

Germany must do more, expert says

While Lower Saxony’s refugee council welcomes the German government’s willingness to resettle 2,500 Iraqis, Weber says that number is just a drop in the ocean when seen against the 2.5 million Iraqis in refugee camps in Syria and Jordan.

“It doesn’t really help to ease the suffering, but it’s a sign of good will,” he said. “But we shouldn’t leave it at that. To really make a difference, Germany should take in 10 times that amount.”

In total, the resettlement program sponsored by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will help 10,000 Iraqis relocate to Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Britain, Denmark, Finland the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are also involved in the scheme.

Most of those receiving help from Germany are members of Iraq’s Christian minority, which has faced years of violence and intimidation from Islamic extremists.

The people selected to take part in the program must fit criteria established by the German government and the EU. They must have a clean criminal record, for example, and not have been members of Saddam Hussein’s former Baath party. Single mothers, post-traumatic stress sufferers and those with family ties to Germany also had a greater chance of a successful application.

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Rallies in Iraq

Rallies in Iraq

By: Fa Me

 

 

Iraqi Christians in different places in Iraq have revived the first anniversary of Archbishop (Poluos Faraj Raho) Martyrdom who was killed in March 2008 in Mosul by unknown group of terrorists.

 

Iraqi Christians until this moment are seeking answers on who was behind this act that had the biggest impact on the life of Iraqi Christians, and cast a shadow on their current life and future, a gloomy picture of an unknown coalitions who is with and who is against their presence.

 

“the aim of these rallies” says Father Salim Kanny “ is to remind the people in the world as well as people in Iraq that our martyrs have sacrificed themselves for christianity, and defended our beliefs on behalf of people in America and Australia and Europe” and he adds “ I never doubted for a single moment that our late Archbishop Poluos Faraj Raho responded to the call of Jesus Christ calling him to come and inherit the Kingdom of God, which was prepared for the blessed ones before even the world was created”.

 

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Senate Seal

Senate Seal

A letter calling attention to the plight of Iraq’s Christians has been sent to U.S. Secretary State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The letter calls attention to the flight of Christians from Iraq in the past 6 years; the Christian population has declined from 1.4 in 2003 to 500,000 at present.

The letter was sent by Senator Sam Brownback, Senator Roger Wicker, Senator Carl Levin, Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. and Senator Banjamin Cardin.

The senators emphasize that the violence and intimidation of Iraq’s christians and other non-Muslim minorities is targeted and call for the administration to “…develop a comprehensive policy to address the situation of these defenseless minorities.”

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Car Bombed

 

A bombed car was detonated today Tuesday 10th of March in Al-Hamdaniya village 30 kilometers near Mosul, the car targeted the Mayor’s building and nearby police station, which caused the death of 2 persons, one of them is a doctor who works in Al-Hamdaniya main hospital and the other victim is the son of Al-Hamdaniya Chief of Council, and others were injured in this blast amongst are policemen.

Al-Hamdaniya Blast

Al-Hamdaniya Blast

 

 Some eye-witnesses said, a red car (Peugeot) was detonated in the place targeted the policemen who were there attending a meeting with the newly appointed christian Chief of Police there as a first christian who takes such position for the first time. Worthy to mention that many Christians escaped Mosul City and taking refuge in Al-Hamdaniya now after the wave of killing and threats that they faced in 2008.

 

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Polish Forces

Polish Forces

 

A government program envisaged that 200 Iraqis would be brought to Poland. These people helped the Polish army, mostly as translators, and for that reason they faced death in their homeland. 40% of these Iraqis were not verified positively by the Polish intelligence services and therefore were not permitted to stay in Poland. The head of the Ministry of National Defence (MON) Bogdan Klich promised these people a new life and a job. Despite such promises, after their arrival, the refugees were informed that flats will be provided for them in Dęblin but they will have to pay rent and earn a living. “It is plain to see how badly this operation was prepared. Bringing these people to Poland was not a problem, but what next?” comments a Polish officer who worked together with the Iraqi translators. The Iraqis are well-educated and most of them have degrees. They hoped for jobs in which their skills and knowledge of Arabic countries would be invaluable.

“An officer came and told us we should go to the employment agency to get a job, although he added that it would be best to search for ourselves as this agency will not find anything for us. What kind of job can we get in such a small town as Dęblin? What have we become? Refugees and spies of the Iraqi government and a burden to the Polish one,” complains Kadir who came to Poland with his wife and four children. Janusz Zemke of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) believes, “the people who have passed the verification should be hired by the army or intelligence service because it lacks specialists who have a good command of Polish. I do not understand the attitude of the Polish authorities and I will discuss the matter with the head of the MON and consult the Office for Foreigners. Gazeta Wyborcza sent an email about this issue to the Office for Foreigners and received the reply that the Office is currently in the process of granting refugee status to these Iraqis. It will not comment on the future of these Iraqis in Poland.

Many fear that Iraqi translators in USA will have the same problem, unless they are being embraced by the US Government!

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