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Chaldeans Go on High-Alert as 'Ethnic Cleansing' Efforts in Iraq Begin
By Huda Metti :: Friday, August 17, 2007 :: 70558 Views :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Baghdad, IRAQ - Chaldeans in Iraq go on high-alert as word spreads that Islamic terrorists groups are aggressively targeting non-muslims in Iraq.  The religious genocide by Islamic fanatics has taken a horrific and dreadful turn as over 500 Yazidi villagers were massacred this past week.  Islamic leaders and followers in Iraq and around the world continue to remain silent, and by doing so send a message of approval. 

The Tuesday bomb attack near Mosul is the latest in an onslaught of targeted killings against non-Muslims.  Provincial authorities in Nineveh province fear that in addition to those already accounted for, another 200 people might still be buried in the rubbles left by the devastating truck bombings. Sources in Iraq warn that the multiple attacks are part of a wider plan that is likely to target Christian villages in the historically Christian Nineveh plain very soon.

The bombings are the deadliest since the war began in 2003. The coordinated operation involved five trucks filled with explosives that killed indiscriminately as body parts of men, women, and children were torn apart and shredded across the streets in a ghastly portrayal of Islam gone awry.  

Major-General Benjamin Mixon, the commander of US forces in northern Iraq calls the cowardly act a bold move towards “ethnic cleansing.”  Iraqi political leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia, and President Jalal Talabani, an ethnic Kurd, condemned the “heinous” attacks and ordered an investigation.  The Kurdistan Regional Government condemned "the cowardly and barbaric attack against innocent civilians of this tolerant religious minority".  United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also slammed the bombings in Iraq.  Yet very little remains to be seen in the form of action by the world leaders or Islamic followers. 

Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain fear the worst.  Sources in Mosul say that the bombings against the Yazidis are “part of a broad plan elaborated by Wahhabi extremists who now control the area to eliminate all those elements that might be in their way as they pursue their goals, namely an Islamic state and the caliphate.  Terrorists have already infiltrated corrupt police and the national army units. “Everything has been studied and prepared with the backing of foreign countries,” reliable sources add.

All villages between Qaraqosh and al-Qosh remain at high risk.  Over 6,000 Christian families have arrived from Baghdad and Mosul being forced from their homes or having their lands in the city confiscated.  Noticeably absent has been the al-Maliki government or the Baghdad authorities as Christians slaughtered.  In the mist of the growing insecurity and uncertainty the decimated Christian community continues to pray for “peace for the entire country and all their neighbors; be it Christian, Muslim or Jew,” Sources say.

Chaldean Christians yesterday prayed in a church in Kirkuk where Archbishop Louis Sako celebrated mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady.  On this occasion, very important for the Chaldean Church, 40 children received their first communion.

United States continues to take heavy criticism for not doing enough to defend minority rights in Iraq.  Michael Youash, project director for the Washington-based Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, which advocates on behalf of Iraqi religious minorities, says "America has shown with abundant clarity that it's not willing to lift a finger on this issue.”

"The Nineveh Plain is a bit of an oasis in terms of safety, and the main reason is because the communities really do know each other," said Youash. "Even with the new arrivals, they tend to know each other." 

The number of internally displaced persons, or IDPs, seeking refuge in the Nineveh Plains rose to more than 10,000 families five months ago. Nineveh province has nearly 90,000 IDPs, the second-largest for any province in the country, according to a July report by the International Organization for Migration.

Forced between the lesser of two evils, Christians who once fled into the cities from Kurdish hostile land grab efforts are now forced back into the region by Islamic fanatics kidnapping and killing women and children in the cities. 

Kurds in the areas recognize that attacking minorities would loose favor with world opinion as they make political strides for independence and a Kurdish nation straddling Iraq and Turkey.  The Kurdish government would like to incorporate much of the Nineveh Plain into its area of rule, but many residents want to create a special administrative area of their own there.  Ongoing claims that the Kurdish psudo-government have confiscating land and disenfranchising Christian voters in the 2005 elections remain. Historically Kurds have been just as hostile to Christian groups they have tempered their zeal of bold and public violence and injustices against minorities. 

"There isn't necessarily a special solution for Christians, because any solution needs to address all political, security and economic concerns through Iraq," said the human rights activist. "But Christians want their own autonomous region with the Shabak and the Yazidis in the Nineveh Plains."  Youash agreed, saying,"This is what's needed to save these people."

Advocates for a special territory run by minorities on the Nineveh Plains cite the Iraqi constitution, which guarantees administrative rights for minorities such as Turkoman, Chaldeans and Assyrians.   If momentum gains for a minority-run area in Nineveh, it will probably be fiercely opposed by the Kurds and perhaps other political groups.

Still, Youash and other advocates are lobbying for US support for the plan and for the plains region.   Over 200,000 Chaldeans and Assyrians living in the US have formed a formidable lobby and education campaign to educate the world of horrific genocide occurring once more in Iraq against Christians.

The US Senate is currently considering a bill that would give 10 million dollars in aid to help religious minorities in the Nineveh Plains. It has already passed in the House of Representatives.

Unless they have security backed up by strong governance, the Christians of Nineveh fear they will disappear altogether. 

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.