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Minority Rights Group International Ranks Iraq Second in Persecution
By Rita Abro :: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 :: 79219 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends


Baghdad, IRAQ - Minority Rights Group International (MRG) releases their State of the World’s Minority’s 2007 report was released last week.  The report highlights  minority groups in Iraq, including Christians and women, as among the most vulnerable in the world.

Iraq is home to a shrinking indigenous population of Christian groups with Chaldeans composing only three percent of the 26 million people in the country.

The minority report cited the September-October UNAMI (United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq) report that noted a spike in violence against all Christians in Iraq, including churches and convents being attacked by rocket and gunfire and religious leaders being kidnapped and beheaded in October.

Another key concern for Iraq’s Christian minority is the growing refugee crisis which has totaled more than 1.8 million people since the 2003 U.S.-led offensive. Nearly half of those seeking asylum in neighboring countries and elsewhere are Christians.



“The report confirms what has been told to us by refugees and partner organizations working with these Iraqis in the Jordanian capital,” said Sharon Payt, advocacy director for World Vision Middle East/Eastern Europe Office (MEERO), in a released statement on Monday.

World Vision is carrying out both relief work through partners among Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan, and an advocacy strategy through World Vision offices around the Partnership and in coalition with agencies like the UNHCR.  Most of the refugees flee to neighboring Syria or Jordan.

Women are another discriminated minority in Iraq, facing a triple threat of discrimination from religion, ethnicity and gender. Many women in Iraq are non-Muslims, according to the report, and face death threats for failing to fully cover their heads and bodies to meet the strict Islamic standard.

The Women’s Rights Association of Baghdad reported in March 2006 that the number of women attacked for not fully covering their heads and face has tripled since 2003.

Women are also the victims of “honor killings” due to family conflict and vulnerable when they become widows. Iraq has few opportunities for a widow to earn money and they are not allowed to drive alone without a male relative present.
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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.