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Chaldean Iraqi Doctors Systematically Being Kidnapped
By Ann Bahri :: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 :: 31225 Views :: Government & Society
Kirkuk, IRAQ - Chaldeans have long begged the world to pay attention to the pillaging of Christians in Iraq.  The Iraqi war drew devastating consequences to the Christian minority in the region.  “A consequence overlooked by a beleaguered American administration in their haste to war,” says Rafid Yohanna, a Chaldean refugee aid worker.  “We have been telling the world that Christian women are targeted and being raped and sold as slaves, men and young children kidnapped, held for ransom, and threatened with decapitation and death to fund terrorism in the war torn Iraq.  They ignore us.  They fear this war will be labeled a religious war.  The terrorist group have already labeled this war a religious war.  All this because America acted before thinking.”  

While many considered the pleas of the peaceful Christian minority to be no different than the atrocities faced by their Muslim counterparts, new evidence says otherwise.   “Now there is a smoking gun that is proof that Christians have been systematically attacked for no other reason that being Christian,” adds Yohanna.

Iraqi police in Kirkuk have captured four members of a criminal enterprise who specialized in kidnapping Christian doctors.  Claims that the men have no link to terrorism or Islamic extremism are being challenged. 

According to reports, the men said they started kidnapping Christian doctors because to sharia (Islamic religious law), taking money from a Christian is legitimate and encouraged.

“The hatred fueled against non-Muslims is in itself Islamic extremism,” exclaims Yohanna.  “It is the hand of hatred guiding suffering Muslims to justify their terrorism against innocent people.”  

The terrorist group had a detailed list of Christian doctors and pharmacists.  The doctors and pharmacists primarily took care of the Muslim community.  A fact that many Christians are claiming is proof that fanaticism threatens both the growing government of Iraq and its people.  Yohanna perplexingly wonders, “If they are willing to torture and kill the very people that are working hard to help Iraq be healthy in the name of Islam, is this not fanatic?”

Doctors have long been a target in Iraq for terrorists and criminals. However, the acts were often considered random or attributed to some non-religious motive.  In the past week alone the director of Iraq’s top clinic for mental health problems was assassinated. Many Iraqi’s feel that terrorist elements are helping to destabilize the country by having it awash in crime whereby the citizens will demand peace, even at the cost if instilling Al Quaida like operatives. 

Yohanna agrees that the criminal element is a ploy for power, “This is the same strategy the terrorist used in Afghanistan.  The people begged for law and order and the same terrorist that created the chaos were happy to take over.  They simply stopped their killing and said it was because of us that we create peace.” 

Christians are targeted for their vulnerability due to what some consider being Islam’s natural indifference towards protecting non-Muslims. 

In another recent case, four specialized doctors were kidnapped and ransomed forcing the families to pay and then flee the country.  Many doctors, specialists and general practitioners have been leaving Iraq because of the danger to their lives. As a result, Iraq has been losing the medical specialists it needs and the intelligence to rebuild the country. 

The ripple effect is devastating.  Infant mortality rates are staggering and stifling an entire generation.  In major cities of Iraq there are virtually no gynecologists left leaving pregnant women in dire situations. 

The Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly III has been optimistic yet saddened by suffering of the Iraqi people.  The leader of the Chaldean Christian church says, "The security situation in Iraq is improving for everyone, including us Christians.”  To this statement Yohanna simply adds, “I guess that leaves people to only imagine how bad Iraq was.”
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.