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Iraqi Christians Targeted In Order to Keep Them Oppressed
By Sabah Hajjar :: Wednesday, July 2, 2008 :: 53889 Views :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Mosul, IRAQ – Christian churches in Iraq continue to receive threatening notices foreshadowing potentially violent attacks against the non-Muslim religious centers.  In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul parishioners fear the worst after a letters were received asking them not to cooperate with US forces. 

“We don’t cooperate with anyone.  They use this as an excuse to attack, torture, hold for ransom, and kill innocent people,” says Khalid Bunni, a parishioner in the region.  

Concern is growing that The Batallion of Just Punishment, Jihad Base in Mesopotamia which strongly opposes Christians entering the Iraqi police force, have begun an aggressive campaign to force Christians from the region once more. 

The letter stated, "We caution and warn anyone who tries to rob us through dealings with the Americans or through the spreading of American forces and/or police to protect the Holy Shrines in the Islamic Republic of Iraq, that these shrines would remain target of the freedom fighters.”

The letter made clear that non-Muslims would remain under oppression and forced into the Muslim Dhimmi system. "We remind the dhimmi people [Jews and Christians] that Iraq is for the noble Iraqis and not for how you are now."

Community leaders in the region suspect the letter actually originated from Ansar Al-Islam, a Kurdish Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.  Muslim Kurds who have squatted on Christian lands in the North are collaborating with al-Qaeda to keep Christians out of the Iraq Police Force and increase tension in the region. 

“The Kurds benefit as long as there is fighting going on.  The Kurds remain ally of the coalition forces.  This wins them favor, gains them support and money, and makes it easier for them to finally gain their own autonomous region in northern Iraq and southern Turkey.   All that land was legally owned by Christians until Kurdish rebels began using the mountains as their place of operations to attack Iraq and Turkey, knowing that they could easily push Christians out of the region. Fearing that Christians on the police force will begin to uncover many of the corrupt efforts, they are being attacked and warned to leave the region and not join the police,” says Bunni.

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.