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Slayed Chaldean Mourned
By Sam Yousif :: Saturday, July 3, 2010 :: 62318 Views :: Law & Order, Chaldean Justice League

California, USA  – Senseless death after senseless death rocks the Chaldean community.  From news of loved ones murdered for their religion in Iraq, refugees able to escape the religious persecution are forced into subhuman conditions and feared dead, and in America as the economic toll of the country takes its course, Chaldeans remain especially vulnerable to robbery, mayhem, and murder. 

For a culture with strong family relations, the devastation is catastrophic.  “Chaldeans value their family relationships,” says Raymond Bahri, a Michigan social worker.  “They tend to come from a large family and pull their resources together to survive.  The family traditions and get-togethers like birthdays, communions, and graduations are widely celebrated as feasts.” 

Perhaps that is why the pain of losing a loved one to a senseless murder over money is so devastating to the Chaldean community.  “Something as priceless as the family relationship being ripped apart by murder is shocking,” adds Bahri.  “It breaks my heart to learn of the murder.”

Authorities on Thursday announced rewards of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest in the 14-year-old slaying of a businessman during a liquor store robbery in southeast San Diego's Skyline neighborhood.

Thursday's announcement came on what would have been Sleiman "Pops" Hallak's 79th birthday. According to San Diego County Crime Stoppers, Hallak was shot to death on April 17, 1996 inside Moonlight Market, near the intersection of South Meadowbrook Drive and Skyline Drive.

Hallak, who owned the market, was behind the counter when a robber demanded cash, then fired several shots at Hallak before turning his weapon on another store employee. The gunman got away with an undisclosed sum of cash, authorities said.

Crime is skyrocketing as the economic outlook of the country continues to fall. “Local governments are choosing to layoff police instead of making the touch decisions of reducing other non-essential or non-security related services,” adds Bahri.  “I guess these council officials feel they can convince the citizens to raise taxes if they feel unsafe and threatened.  It may work, but they are toying with lives here.”  

Chaldeans are especially at risk as small business owners remain the number one target of hardened criminals.  States like Michigan and California are releasing convicted criminals back out onto the streets with little or no chance of making a living.  This is causing these former felons with little to no alternative to robbing, stealing, and killing. 

“Two years into our president’s administration and still we have double digit unemployment. When the economy is bad, criminals attack corner stores, markets, gas stations, and other small businesses, says Antisar Denha.  “They know Chaldeans are killed in Iraq because they are Christians.  They do nothing about it.  Plus, they are deporting Chaldeans back to Iraq saying they don’t deserve asylum because Iraq is now free.  This is a joke.  I will never vote for him or his party again. His party is all talk, just to get elected.  They are backstabbers.”

Chaldeans in California and Michigan struggle to convince authorities that store robberies and burglaries should be taken seriously.  Most of the criminals are involved in gangs, deal drugs, and are connected to numerous criminal activities.  In Michigan, Chaldeans in Detroit continue to complain about the lack of response by police.  “It is a running joke in the Chaldean community that you can get a cop to come to your store faster if you offer them free pizza than you could by hitting the hold-up alarm,” jokes Bahri. 

In California, Chaldeans have taken matters in their own hands by forming a Neighborhood Market Association that remains involved and engaged with local authorities.    In the case of Sleiman Hallak the San Diego Crime Stoppers is only offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case. Meanwhile, the Hallak family and the Neighborhood Market Association are offering an additional $9,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
 
Tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477. Anonymous email and text messages can be sent via www.sdcrimestoppers.com.

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.