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Despite Criticisms of Alienating Christians Iraq Presidency Approves Provincial Election Law
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, October 3, 2008 :: 125563 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Community & Culture, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Sulaimaniyah, IRAQ — Today, Iraq's three-member presidency council approved a delayed provincial election law, amidst strong criticism of legally marginalizing Christian representation in the country.  “Again, Iraqi Christians are dealt a devastating blow,” says Issam Najed.  “America’s revolution was ignited over taxation without representation.  In Iraq, Christians are given no representation in the direction of their country.” 

"I think that some political groups are pushing the remaining Christians to leave Iraq," worshipper Afram Razzaq-Allah said after services at a Catholic church in Baghdad. "They want us to feel that we are no longer Iraqis."   Native Americans can empathize with the indigenous people of Iraq.  Iraq's leaders feigned seeking safeguards for small religious communities in this mainly Muslim country as Christians protested parliament's decision for minority representation on provincial councils. 

Matti Galia, a local politician agrees with Razzaq-Allah.  In a rally in Mosul the local leader said, "This is an unjust decision and it affects our rights as Christians. We are original citizens in this country. The politicians' goal was to divide the Iraqi people and create more struggles. Indirectly, they are telling us to leave Iraq."

"The presidency council has adopted the provincial election law," said the official, who is a member of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party.  Talabani and Vice Presidents Adel Abdel Mahdi and Tareq al-Hashemi were all present at the meeting, which was also attended by Massud Barzani, president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

The council's stamp of approval means Iraq can now finally go ahead with the polls which had originally been scheduled for October 1. 

Iraq's 275-member parliament finally passed the law on September 24 after secretly scraping a key clause that would have reserved seats on provincial councils for Christians and other minorities.

Ignoring calls for justice and fairness, Iraqi leaders forge ahead with elections which will be held early next year in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces.   Although able to scrap Christian representation in parliament, Islamic Kurdish forces threatened ongoing violence and trouble if their demands were not met.  Unable to meet the needs, the council decided to exclude the disputed northern oil province of Kirkuk and the three Kurdish provinces of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniyah, leaving the areas militarily controlled by Kurdish forces.

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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.