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Iraq Becoming Islamic State Hostile to Non-Muslims
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, December 19, 2008 :: 104785 Views :: Article Rating :: 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.

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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.