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Iraq Becoming Islamic State Hostile to Non-Muslims
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, December 19, 2008 :: 84161 Views :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

London, UK – Lord Alton called for the government in the north of Iraq to return land that had been seized from minority groups.  "The Kurdish Regional Government needs to ensure a swift and complete return of Christian homes, land and property that has been misappropriated ­ which includes 58 Christian villages taken by Kurds.

"How The Kurdish and Iraqi authorities treat their minorities ­ including Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans ­ will be a test of their determination to create a tolerant society respectful of difference."

Around 90 people packed into a House of Lords' committee room to attend a hearing about the crisis currently facing minorities in Iraq.

A statement from the Syriac and Chaldean Churches read out at the meeting similarly sounded a note of caution about the direction the country was taking: "It seems that Iraq is one step closer to becoming an Islamic state intolerant to non-Muslims".

These concerns were echoed by Zahra Mohammed, speaking on behalf of the Faylee Kurd minority, who warned that "ethnic cleansing, sadly, can be still seen in the new Iraq".

Presentations at the meeting began with Prof Gregory Stanton, president of international organization Genocide Watch, who warned that the treatment meted out to minorities in Iraq had all the signs of attempted genocide.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, UK national director of Aid to the Church in Need, also spoke, underlining the need to provide aid to allow the Christian communities to remain in the country.

He concluded by quoting Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk: "Iraq is a mosaic of cultures, religions and different ethnic groups. The Church can play a key role so that the country can recover its balance."

The meeting called by Lord David Alton to address the problems, speakers described how various minority groups have suffered murder, rape, kidnapping, forced conversion, and extortion.

Although the room could only accommodate 50 people up to 90 turned up to express their concern about the problems facing minorities in Iraq.

Speaking after the meeting Lord Alton, said: "The Christian minorities in Iraq ­ along with other vulnerable minorities ­ have suffered appallingly.

"Since 2003 more than 700 Iraqi Christians have been murdered and at least a further 15 have died in Mosul, as thousands of Christian families fled to safety."

Stressing the need for an extensive enquiry he went on to say: "The Iraqi Government needs to conduct a full and transparent investigation into who was responsible for the events in Mosul."

With thousands of Iraqis from minority groups having fled the country and currently seeking refuge in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Syria and Turkey, the issue of refugees was of particular interest to those at the meeting.

There were calls from several of those present for countries such as the USA and UK to generously welcome the minorities who were now refugees from Iraq.

Others addressing the meeting included Adnan Kochar of CHAK (Centre of Halabaja against Anfalization and genocide of the Kurds), Peter Price the Anglican Bishop of Baths and Wells, and Nicola Craven, researcher on Mandaean refugees in Syria.

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.