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Volume IX

Issue 35

3 November 2003
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo

  Assyriska Föreningen
The food & Ambiance, $250. The results? Priceless.

Answering Majdolin

  Assyrian Judge Killed in Mosul
Chaldean Synod Called to Rome to Elect New Patriarch
Final Declaration of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian General Conference
Zinda Special: Report on the General Conference in Baghdad
Yonadam Kanna on Ashur Satellite TV
Chaldean Bishop of Kirkuk: New Iraq Needs Europe's Help
Christian Religious Leaders Join in the Ramadan Dinner in Istanbul
  AUA & Political Parties Call For A Convention
Iraq's Christians Run Gauntlet of anti-US Hostility
Rev. Kenneth Joseph on FoxNews, November 3
London Police Arrest Antique Dealers
Vatican is not Opposed to Turkey in the European Union

Holocaust or Self-Immolation
“A Syrian”, Not “Assyrian”
The Real Author, Please!
The Voice of Reason A Zinda Reader’s Letter to National Geographic Magazine


Assyriology Lecture Series at Leiden UniversityGorgias Press Holiday Sale


Please, Show Me Some Action and Spare me the Talk!New Iraq on its way to Becoming Islamic StateWe want to be just like you!

  Assyrian Soccer Fever Rules Sweden
Assyriska Soccer Team- A Brief History




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Zinda Says


If you missed last Saturday’s football game (that’s ‘soccer’ for our North American readers) between Assyriska Föreningen and IF Elfsborg you may have just failed to take notice of one of the most exciting sports teams in Europe and football clubs around the world.

Over ten thousand spectators watched this year’s most exciting football match at the Råsunda stadium in Stockholm. Two weeks prior to this glorious day, the Assyrian team of Assyriska had knocked out Sweden’s Djurgårdens, the UEFA Champions in the semi-finals. Now they had to prove their superiority one last time against Sweden’s first division team, Elfsborg.

The first goal in Saturday’s game was planted by Lars Nilsson four minutes into the first half. Nilsson gave his team another goal with a header midway through the second half.

With no goals attributed to our Assyrian players, Elfsborg won the Swedish Cup with a 2-0 win over second division team, Assyriska. This victory qualified Elfsborg for next year’s UEFA Cup against first division runners-up, Hammarby.

Because of the players’ Assyrian background and ties to Iraq and Turkey (birthplaces of some players), the game had quickly become a political statement in itself. Sweden has often criticized the U.S.-led war on Iraq, saying it did not have United Nations' approval. The former Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in a statement on 6 June had said that U.S. President George W. Bush had acted like a ''lone ranger'' on Iraq and warned that other countries could be tempted to follow America's example. Anna Lindh, 46, was one of Sweden's most popular politicians and was a likely successor to Prime Minister Goran Persson. She was stabbed to death on 10 September.

But like many other Assyriska fans, Zinda staff and thousands of Assyrian-Swedes were – regardless of any political bias – glued to TV sets or gathered in Stockholm to observe the football match of the year – perhaps the decade. The most awesome and inspiring moment, one that can never be erased from the memory of any attending fan, was the appearance of an enormous Assyrian flag representing the aspirations of millions of Assyrians worldwide. Resistance was futile. Tears were readily flowing down our faces - the old and the young. This was not only a football match, but also a political statement. That the Assyrians exist and wish to be recognized for their own merits and accomplishments.

Nothing will bring us greater joy than watching the lions of Assyriska Föreningen clinching the final championships of Cupen Svenska and every European football club in the coming year.


For a starter I see a little Assyrian cheese spread liberally over a small piece of lawasha bread. I follow that with tuna and Yellow Tail Damier gently soaked in Wasabi cream. I place that on a lightly buttered sesame cracker and move to the next table. Wow! Crab Lady Bug immersed in Tomato Jus, sitting next to the tartlette of Cucumber, Tomato, Onions, and Feta Cheese. And this is just the starter!

The first order of the day is my favorite - Saffron Chicken with Yogurt (did you know “saffron” is an Akkadian word?)
Then I am offered little shrimps glazed in maple syrup and wrapped in Pancetta. If you love scallop, you are going to love the one’s on my plate – seared in lemon butter and fresh mint. The marine delicacies reach an awesome finale with the roasted sablefish in saffron broth and harissa.

Enough of the fish. Let’s move to the birdies. Do you like pomegranate? Then you’ll love the grilled coriander quail with roasted sweet potatoes and yes – pomegranate. Care for some lamb? How about roast rack of lamb and basmati rice pilaf with barberries.

Oh, I almost forgot the drinks. All that fabulous food has to go down with equally marvelous wine. In no time I am offered all of the following choices: 1998 J Vineyards and Winery J Vintage Brut, 2001 Miner Family Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonay, 1999 Hanna Winery, Bismark Ranch, Sangiovese, 1999 Showket Sangiovese, 2000 Darioush Winery, Napa Valley Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon & my favorite the 2000 Narsai, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon.

And what’s a good meal without the sweet and rich Assyrian delicacies like Qalechi, Aradin Baklava, Nazoogi and the not-so Assyrian, truffles?

Too good to be true? Let me pose this question: “How much are you willing to pay to have San Francisco’s top chefs offer you all this, while you get a chance to meet with the San Francisco Bay Area mayors, congressional representatives, Assyrian dignitaries, and listen to live entertainment by Walter Aziz, Dan Eshoo & the Ancient Echoes Ensemble? There is also the ever-popular Presidio Children's Dance Theater. What if I said that all proceeds from your generosity would end up helping the Assyrians in Iraq?

Priceless? Zinda Magazine agrees.

Narsai David has done it again. The most notable Chefs and dignitaries from around the San Francisco Bay Area will be joining hundreds of munificent Assyrians to create another unforgettable evening this coming Friday at San Francisco’s 5-Star Ritz Carlton Hotel. Last year’s Narsai’s Taste of the Mediterranean helped raise $150,000 for the building of a school in north Iraq and for assisting the victims of the Gulf War.

Join Zinda Magazine, Macy’s, KCBS, Delta Airlines, Cedars Bank and several other companies and restaurants in celebrating another culinary achievement on Friday, 7 November in San Francisco. Great food, fabulous people, and primo entertainment in the company of your Assyrian friends.

For tickets and information call 510-527-9997. If you are a full-time Assyrian student, then you can enjoy all this for 60 percent less than the actual cost. Email us at narsai2003@zindamagazine.com.

See you on Friday at Ritz-Carlton San Francisco!

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas


The Lighthouse


On the 31st of March Assyrians in Chicago proudly rallied to support the war in Iraq, backing the invasion of their homeland and supporting the US troops.[1]

In a display of “instant-karma” and on the very same day of the Chicago rally Mosul, the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh (Mosul), was attacked by a B-52 air strike using missiles paid for by Assyrian-American taxpayers. The attack on the village of Bartilla in Mosul, was originally reported by Al-Jazeera as killing 20, but actually killed 21 and injured more than 70 Assyrians.[2] Initially seen as a tragic footnote in this war the event was soon forgotten by most Assyrians and considered a “price worth paying” as the rest of Iraq was “liberated.”

Had the victims been killed by the Iraqi regime the Assyrians in the Diaspora would’ve sent out petitions, contacted their local governments and protested in front of the Iraqi government’s embassies. Yet the victims of Mosul, along with numerous other innocents killed during this latest war have been sadly forgotten. No religious designations, such as “martyrs” were applied to them. No candles were lit for them during this year’s Assyrian Remembrance Day. And no flowery poems reminded us of how they came to be killed.

The victims of that attack were however not to be forgotten and in last week’s issue the tragic consequences of our ongoing support for this war in our homeland came back to haunt us.[3]

Majdolin Yonan and her story is a “reality check” on the idea that any war can ever be justified, be surgical or benefit our people.

Admitting that there have been victims at all undermines our simplistic “good vs. evil” religiously-based beliefs. This may partly help to explain why our organisations in Detroit have sadly chosen to ignore the plight of Majdolin Yonan. We know deep down inside that we are partly responsible for the pain and suffering of our people and the Iraqi people during this war.

Weren’t our western governments the ones who originally installed, trained and supported Saddam Hussein during the 1970s?

Weren’t our governments responsible for profiting through the selling of weapons to both Iraq and Iran during 8 years of carnage?

Weren’t our military ships used to blockade Iraq and cause the death of 500,000 innocent children under the age of 5 due to US-led sanctions?

Weren’t our governments responsible for this latest illegal invasion of our homeland and the deaths and injuries of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians?

Yes, Majdolin Yonan’s story is not unique.

The innocent Assyrian civilian toll in this war alone has yet to be tallied but can be roughly assessed.

If we forget about the numerous Assyrian men who died serving in the Iraqi army, a rough assessment can be made of how many innocent Assyrian civilians have died during this war.

Assuming that the Assyrian population in Iraq is 1,000,000 and the total population of Iraq is 23 million then basic mathematics can be used to make this estimate.

According to the latest figures of innocent Iraqi civilians killed during this war, taken from www.iraqbodycount.org, the toll ranges from 7757 to 9565.

One million divided by 23 million multiplied by www.iraqbodycount.org’s minimum figure of 7757 gives us 337.
Again 1 million divided by 23 million multiplied by www.iraqbodycount.org’s maximum figure of 9565 gives us 415.
So the Assyrian cost of this war ranges from 337 to 415 innocent Assyrian men, women and children!

But we have and continue to remain silent. Choosing the far easier option of sending tax deductible band aids to the people we have helped injure and kill.

We have not yet admitted to ourselves that the US objective in Iraq is far from providing security or stability. We do not dare confront our corporate hijacked governments and tell them that we don’t think that any price is worth paying in order for Bush’s Enron, Rice’s Chevron and Chenney’s Halburton to improve their companies’ stock price.
And we have yet to unite with other similarly disenchanted groups and called for a boycott of these very same companies’ products.

Madjolin Yonan's story and the death of her baby daughter, her unborn child and the rest of the 21 Assyrians killed in Mosul on the 31st of March, is just one of many tragic stories that have and will continue to occur in the months ahead.

But we can at last answer Majdolin Yonan’s questions and tell her who’s truly responsible for what happened to her and the rest of our dead and injured throughout Iraq.

Majdolin Yonan, we are all collectively responsible for what happened to you.
Our organisations are responsible for supporting this illegal war. Our activists are responsible for not bothering to protest. And each of us is individually responsible for allowing our tax dollars to be spent on the bombs that were dropped on your home and our homeland.

I hope one day you can forgive us.

David Chibo

1. Over 4000 Assyrians Rally In Support Of U.S. Troops In Chicago, http://www.zindamagazine.com/html/archives/2003/3.31.03/index.php#NewsDigest
2. Iraqi Village Reportedly Bombed, http://www.acsa.nu/artikel.asp?lankid=25&artid=330
3. Woman who lost children, sight in Iraq struggles to cope,

[Mr. Chibo is a member of the Zinda Crew in Australia and has written exensively on the condition of the Assyrians in North Iraq. He spoke with Majdolin about her condition last week and discussed a fundraising campaign in Australia to raise money for her operations. At first Majdolin and her sister Wardiya were stunned that someone as far away as Australia had read the San Diego Tribune article and then taken the time to get their number and call to enquire and support them.

Far from a sorrowful and weeping conversation both women kept expressing hope that things would improve. Majdolin is undergoing another operation this week and is hopeful that some improvement can be made to her condition.

Majdolin has a Trust Fund account to which donations can be wired or sent from around the world. Our Australian readers can contact Mr. Chibo at 0421-353 253. Zinda Magazine readers are also welcome to call Majdolin's sister, Wardiya, at 619-300-9765 and enquire about Majdolin’s condition. Zinda Magazine urges its readers to give generously to the Yonan Family Trust Fund and help Majdolin and other war victims during the coming holiday season.

Community First National Bank
1234 E. Main St.
El Cajon, Ca 92021
Account #8312633688

Good Morning Assyria


(ZNDA: Dohuk) According to a report from the Information Offices of the Assyrian Democratic Movemnt in Dohuk, Iraq and London, an Assyrian judge was killed outside of his home in Mosul. Judge Ismail Yousif Sadeqge Sadeq, originally from the town of Alqosh, was shot three times outside his home in Mosul in the early hours of Tuesday, 4 November.

According to the report, Judge Sadeq was expected to be the presiding Judge for the entire city of Mosul. Judge Sadeq was a deputy to the head of the appeal courts in Nineveh province. On Monday, the head of an Iraqi court who was investigating members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, Muhan Jabr al-Shuweily, was also abducted and murdered in the southern city Najaf.

A colleague who was spared said he believed the killers were supporters of Saddam.


Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (29 October)

(ZNDA: Vatican City) John Paul II called the Synod of the Bishops of the Chaldean Church to meet Dec. 2-3 in the Vatican to elect the new patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans.

The Pope's decision came in virtue of Canon 72 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, explained Vatican press office director Joaqu?n Navarro-Valls. The patriarchal see of the Chaldean Church is in Baghdad, Iraq.

The 22 bishops of the synod met in August to appoint the successor of Patriarch Raphael Bidawid, who died July 7. Such a process followed the custom of the Eastern patriarchal churches.

Canon 72 provides for the election by a two-thirds vote in the first ballot or by an absolute majority after a certain number of votes. If the election does not take place in the first 15 days from the opening of the synod, Paragraph 2 of the canon establishes that the case goes to the Roman Pontiff.

Christians in Iraq number 800,000, about 3% of the population. Of these, Chaldean Catholics constitute over 70%. The Baghdad community has about 350,000 faithful.

The official language of the Chaldean liturgy is Aramaic. As the faithful normally speak Arabic, the celebration of the liturgy is bilingual. There are Chaldean communities in America, Europe and Oceania.


For Immediate Release
29 October 2003

The Chaldean Syriac Assyrian General Conference was held in Baghdad in the period of 22-23 October, 2003 under the motto of “Our Unity and Our National and Patriotic Rights in Iraq”. The Conference was held under the patronage of Dr. Ayad Alawi, the rotating interim President of the Iraqi Governing Council, with the presence of Mr. Younadam Kanna the representative of our people in the Iraqi Governing Council and the representative for Mr. Paul Bremer, Head of Civil Administration in Iraq as well as representatives of various national Iraqi parties. The Conference was also attended by representatives our people’s political parties and organizations and its religious, civic and cultural institutions throughout Iraq. Delegates from Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and the Diaspora (Europe, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) were also in attendance.

The Conference convened under circumstances when all Iraqi people are looking forward to a new era and dawn after the demise of the previous regime as well as an era during which freedom and democracy are prevalent, human dignity is safeguarded, and the sovereignty and independence of Iraq are preserved. The Conference represents a historic and important stage long-awaited by our people, an urgent need necessitated by many overdue rights and privileges on the path to secure our people's identity and the continuous national and civlizational existence on their ancestral native homeland. This existence extends over several millennia beginning with Sumer, Akkad, Babylon, and Ashur where the first laws were formulated and rules and regulations were instituted. Our people continued their services to humanity with their adoption of Christianity until this very day.

For three days, the participants debated the Conference's agenda and its primary items. Many valuable studies and researches were presented, which addressed the Iraqi patriotic and national causes and the specific cause of our people. After thorough deliberations and discussions, the Conference affirmed certain principles and foundations:

Patriotic Aspect:

-The Conference stressed the Unity of Iraq. It called upon the international community and the neighboring states to support and help Iraq consolidate its security and stability and recover its independence and national sovereignty which are needed to take Iraq back to its normal place where it can play its role and build relations based on common interest and mutual respect with all of its neighbors and return to the international community.

-The Conference stressed the establishment of a federal, pluralistic, and democratic system of government. This system shall affirm the principles of governance in peace and the separation of authorities; a system that honors international treaties and agreements, prescribes to human rights and institutes the rights of all national, ethnic and religious groups that constitute the Iraq people.

National Aspect:

-The Conference stressed the Unity of our people regardless of all the appellations currently in circulation as Chaldean Syriac Assyrian since they are names for one entity that we revere and are proud of. The appellations serve as evidence to our historic and civilizational depth into ancient times and reflect various historic periods that diversified our peoples' roots and affiliation to this land– an affiliation that is still extant. And due to the pressing need imposed by the critical situation that our people and cause are going through, the Conference highlighted the importance of concurrence on one unified national appellation that is consistent with our situation in Iraq. The participants agreed on appellation of ‘Chaldoassyrian’ to designate our people and the appellation ‘Syriac’ to designate our language and culture, to be incorporated in the constitution. The Conference stressed that the Iraqi permanent constitution shall include reference to the existence of the Chaldoassyrians as an indigenous nationality (people) on a par with the rest of the Iraqi ethnic nationalities and coexist with them in the country according to the principles of partnership, which will guarantee the Chaldoassyrians the ability to practice their ethnic, political, administrative, and cultural rights and their privilege to be represented and nominated in the legislative, administrative, and judicial branches of government.

-The Conference stressed the need to designate an administrative region for our people in the Nineveh plain with the participation of other ethnic and religious groups, where a special law will be established for self-administration and the assurance of administrative, political, cultural rights in towns and villages throughout Iraq where our people reside.

-The Conference stressed the issuance of legislations that redress the injustices that have befallen our people and the removal all remnants of policies that altered the demographic structure of several regions that belonged to our people. 1957 Census and earlier should be used as benchmarks.

-The Conference demanded the reaffirmation of the rights of our people who migrated or were forced into migration to return to Iraq. In this regard, the Conference values the decision of the Iraqi Governing Council for issuance of the new citizenship law.

-The Conference stresses the role of the Chaldoassyrian women through exercising their full rights and their participation in all aspects of life. The Conference calls upon our people in Iraq and Diaspora to observe and practice their national and ethnic responsibilities in the rebuilding and the advancement of Iraq. Additionally, the Conference calls for the continuation of the dialogue with the rest of the organizations and institutions that did not have the opportunity to attend the Conference, for whatever reason, to stand united in serving our cause. The Conference concluded its sessions by establishing a general secretariat, which will follow up and implement the Conference's recommendations and resolutions through the committees that evolved throughout the Conference.

October 24, 2003 A.D. / 6753 A


A Zinda Magazine Special Report
Prepared by Dr. Eden Naby
North Iraq

22-24 October 2003

Despite the clear concern for dangers to themselves and their guests, a meeting was convened in Baghdad that attracted a wide group of selected invitees from Iraq and from the Diaspora, both in the Middle East and in the farther reaches of our immigration.

The Plenary Session, convened in the main hall of the heavily guarded Sheraton hotel, attracted a very large crowd of mainly Assyrians and Chaldeans, as well Syriacs from Syria and Lebanon, and members of Mtakasta (ADO), who have been very active in planning this conference and taking responsibility of the many tasks of the secretariat headed by Mr. Yonan Hozaiya, one of the five members of the political bureau of the Central Committee of the Assyrian Democratic Movement. The level of cooperation was admirable and as one participant remarked, " the reason that our community members were not picking on each other as often happens, but rather engaging in discussion to resolve differences of opinion was that we feel empowered for the first time to be in charge of our destiny. We can no longer live in a victim mentality. We hold our fate in our hands."

The Plenary Session

The proceedings began with a session in which speeches were made not just by Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, who was representing Mr. Bremer (at the time attending the donor's conference in Madrid), but also by the representative of Mr. Iyad Alawi, who for October is the presiding member of the Iraqi Governing Council. Additional speeches were made by the papal representative in Baghdad, Shlemon Warduni, Mr. Saad Yildiz of the ADO in Sweden, Mr. Habib Afram, one of the leading writers on Christians in the Middle East, as well as Mr. Imad Sham'un who had come with the blessings of the Maronite Patriarch.

At this formal session, very crowded with media (including Reuters and LBC, Fox and others), there were security from at least three groups: first and foremost, the ZOWAA armed men, then Americans guarding Amb. Kennedy, and finally guards from the Iraqi Governing Council. The media kept urging the guards to move out of camera vision but at times with little success. Most of us who had not been close to arms at any range found the experience surreal as was certainly an Assyrian meeting in Baghdad.

The pattern of speeches was interrupted by a young people's choir singing two patriotic Assyrian songs, and a modern dance group which, despite the small stage, performed a synchronized dance.

At the end of the plenary, the audience was treated to a varied and colorful presentation of costumes from many villages of the Nineveh plain, organized by the Assyrian Women's Union, for which they had borrowed old costumes which were modeled by young women. The MC for this part of the program was Jean d'Arc Hozaya.

Photographs of these costumes should be available on the internet soon. In the spirit of the conference, the costumed girls at the end rallied around a girl from whose arm hung a large Assyrian flag.

The Debate

The following two days were spent on discussing language issues, history and politics. Most presentations were done in Arabic, but a lot of the discussion was in our own language spoken in many dialects. The delegation from Iran was fortunate in having someone translating much of the Arabic into our own language. Most of the other attendees, even those from Abroad, understood Arabic since they were originally from Iraq or Syria.

Mr. Sam Yono made a special multi-language presentation during his chairing of tone of the panels in which he pointed to the realization of the problem of achieving unity and recognition that has emerged over the past decade. Although clearly many people who agreed to discuss this issue have some uneasiness with how to proceed, how to accommodate the various parts of our nation, none can evade the problem for us in Iraq if we do not come to a meeting of the minds, at least in Iraq. Speaker after speaker, especially the representative of Furqono and the representative of the Atranaye Political Party pointed to the various aspect of the problem of our name. Everyone was aware of the role of our churches and speakers called for separation of church and state.

The Constitution of a New Iraq

One of the most substantive presentations was made by Prof. Hikmat Hakim, a professor of Public Law, who sits on the committee to organize the procedure for the drafting of the constitution. The committee that actually drafts the constitution will be selected. The committee on which he sits is composed of 25 members, reflecting the exact ethno-religious make-up of the IGC. He is from Telkepe and made three things very clear:

- the American recommended timeframe (12/15/03) may be hard to meet, even for the formation of the constitutional committee
- the direction for the constitution will come from the deliberations of the IGC which thus far have provided the following:
- that Iraq will have a plural, democratic constitution… that the role of Islam in the constitution will be guided by the following carefully worded stand, the constitution will honor the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people. This represents a compromise between those who want Shari'a and those who do not want an Islamic state.
- there will probably a great deal of continued debate on the ethnic question and the tendency is to drop mention of ANY ethnic groups, including Arabs and Kurds.

The Resolutions of the General Conference

At the end of the third day of conference, the secretariate drafted resolutions which were discussed by the general body of attendees and, b ased on these discussions, they were ammended and formalized. The Arabic version was later published in the special conference issue of BAHRA for the week of 26 October. The following is an informal English language summary of the main points:

- Unity of Iraq
- Federal, plural, democratic system of governance
- Respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- The denominations of our community (Chaldean, Syriac, Assyrian) belong to one entity and represent historical context of our people throughout our long history in our homeland to which we are attached.
- In view of the situation in Iraq, the term ChaldoAssyrian will be used and the language designation will be Syriac
- The constitution must recognize the national existence of the Chaldo-Assyrians, as the indigenous people of Iraq
- An administrative region for ChaldoAssyrians on the plains of Nineveh as well as special provisions for other members of our community living in other areas.
- Laws which treat the injustices done to our people, in particular those leading to demographic changes since 1957 census and before.
- The right of return for those who emigrated or were forced to do so
- Rights of ChaldoAssyrian women
- Call of members of our community in Diaspora to exercise national responsibility in the reconstruction of Iraq.
- Appeal to parties and organizations to continue the beneficial dialogue in which we are engaged with a view to preserving our unity
- Establish a general secretariat to set up committees for carrying out decisions of the general conference.


The conference closed with much good will and hope that the spirit of cooperation would continue. At a future date, when the security situation is even better, other such meetings can take place when more of the people in Diaspora can participate and come to appreciate the place that the twenty years of hard work and personal sacrifice have earned for us all.

The final events were a play which traced the historical position of our people from our origins in Mesopotamia through to the years of foreign conquest, the "clowns" at the Paris Peace Conference who denied us our rights, the years of egotistic leaders ("ANA, Ana, ana" sayers) who destroyed our unity, and the terrifying years of Saddam Hussein. One unfortunate event did take place, the actor playing Saddam Hussein accidentally; cut a member of the audience with the sword he was brandishing so realistically! Would that Saddam Hussein could be so apologetic for all the blood he shed.

The art exhibition some of which represented the spirit of our history and culture, and others village scenes by a group of artistic men and women, topped the days of thoughts and actions devoted to improving the future of our people. Much thanks goes to the organizers, especially the Zowaa Demokrataya Athuraya which
conducted the on the ground logistics of pick-up, delivery and security. . Less happy were many of us from abroad with the belly trouble we developed at that appropriately named hotel Babylon, which, though run down as much of Baghdad is now, might have prevented our Baghdad Bellies with a more careful use of bottled

This was a historic, courageous and heroic event. It needs to be discussed in light of history, in light of the possibilities for the future while avoiding the pitfalls of ego, rumor, and extremism. Let us hope that next time, we can all accept the invitation of Dr. Donny George Youkhana, one of the enthusiastic attendees, to see the
Assyrian treasures at the Baghdad Museum. Next year in Baghdad?


(ZNDA: San Jose) Mr. Yonadam Kanna, the Assyrian Chaldean Christian representative in the Iraqi Governing Council, was a guest on the Ashur Satellite TV on 26 October. He responded to many questions addressed by the program hosts and viewers via telephone in Iraq.

Mr. Kanna spoke about the latest General Conference that was held in Baghdad between October 22 and 24. He stated that the Preparatory Committee of the Conference included nine members representing the ChaldoAssyrian National Congress (Iraq), Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO), Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), and several groups and federations in Europe and the United States.

Mr. Kanna stated that close to 1000 people attended the opening ceremony and some 160 representatives, from many secular and religious organizations representing the Chaldean, Suryani, and Assyrian communities, met for three days. He emphasized that “We must unite; otherwise, we will pass up the opportunity granted to us today.” He continued: “If we do not do so, we could be recognized as religious denominations” Presently eleven denominations exist in Iraq. He added that “We cannot change the mistakes of the past in a few months and that this conference was a beginning to open dialogue between our communities. It is important to arrive at a common name, for now, so that all these names are ours. They were used throughout our long history.” He stressed that this conference was not the end of any communications, rather the organizers will reach out for those who were unable to attend.

Mr. Kanna also stated that the conference stressed the necessity to institute an administrative region for the Assyrian people in the Nineveh plain, which could be shared with the Yezidis. This special region could cover a space of approximately 100 X 60 Square Kilometers with particular regulations for its administration. It could therefore be linked to the Governorate of Nineveh. This region would include almost every town and village in the Mosul plain inhabited by the Assyrians and would include the ancient Assyrian cities of Nimrud (Calhu or Calah) and Khorsabad (Dur Sharukin).

Mr. Kanna stated that the special committees that were formed during the Conference will address many important issues facing the Assyrian people. These include the repatriation of the one million Iraqis, including Assyrians, who were forced to leave Iraq, and the abolishment of the law 1973 Decree instituted by the former regime. According to this decree, the children of the Christian parents who converted to Islam are automatically considered Moslem. Assyrians have lost 1,800 families to such policies.

The Land Law that allows the seizure of the Assyrian lands and then allotted to Arabs during the Arabization policies will be reviewed as all such seized properties must be returned to their lawful owners, explained Mr. Kanna. Furthermore, all Assyrian schools of Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, which were closed by the ousted regime will be reopened. Additionally, the future Ministry of Religious Affairs will consist of three members representing Shi'aa, Sunni, and Christians. Lastly, a special committee was established to assist in writing the new Iraqi constitution. Zinda Magazine has learned that this special committee which includes many Assyrian attorneys will be assisting Dr. Hikmat Hakim, the Assyrian representative in the Special Constitutional Committee drafting the constitution. Mr. Kanna continued to say that there are other projects and issues that need to be tackled

In response to the latest attacks on the ADM from certain Assyrian TV stations and by certain individuals on other media outlets, Mr. Kanna noted that “It is easy to sit behind a PC or in a TV studio and sing "Bet Nahrain Atriwat Le manshinakh" (a popular Assyrian song that goes, “Bet Nahrain I will not forget you”. Mr. Kanna then invited those few behind such attacks to travel to Iraq and “live the reality and true activism.” Raabi Kanna ended his interview by emphasising the importance of keeping the link between home and Diaspora alive as “the chain is vital for our survival in our ancestral land.”

Mr. Kanna stated that many individuals attended the conference, representing organizations, churches, and at times themselves. He stated that many others, who were not able to attend, have sent telegrams supporting the conference. The list of the names below was collected from three different sources: Assyrian Patriotic Party and the Nahrain.com (Mawsoo'aat al-Nahrain) web sites, in addition to the Assyrian Democratic Movement reports.

List of Participants at the Chaldean Syrian Assyrian General Conference
October 22-24, 2003

Patrick Kennedy (representative of Paul Bremer, Civil Administrator in Iraq)
Ibrahim al-Ja'fari (Iraqi Governing Council) representative of Ayad Alawi (interim president I.G.C)
Yonaham Kanna (Iraqi Governing Council – representing Assyrians and other Christians of Iraq)

1. Abd al-Ahad Qallo
2. Adeeb Koka Yonan (President, ChaldoAssyrian National Congress)
3. Adel Danno
4. Afram Mansour
5. Alaydin Khamis (Assyrian American National Federation, USA)
6. Bashir Ishaq Saadi (Secretary General, Assyrian Democratic Organization, Syria)
7. Basil Shmaya
8. Benyamin Haddad
9. Bishop Asadorian (Bishop of the Armenian Church)
10. Dr. Bashir al-Tori
11. Dr. Eden Nabi (Harvard University)
12. Dr. Edward Odisho (Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago)
13. Dr. Emad Shim'oon (Representative of Patriarch Mar Nisrallah Potrus Sfir of the Maronite Church)
14. Dr. Hikmat Hakim (Assyrian representative in the Iraqi Constitution Committee)
15. Dr. Robert Kalaita (Assyrian American League, Chicago)
16. Dr. Ronald Thomas-zadeh (Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran-Iran)
17. Dr. Yousif Fawzi
18. Emmanuel Shikwana
19. Habib Afram (President, the Syriac League, Lebanon)
20. Iskandar Qasha (Sweden)
21. Jamal Qalabat (Chaldean National Federation, Michigan)
22. Jameel Meezi (Iraqi Democratic Federation)
23. Joseph Kassab (Detroit) (Not Confirmed)
24. Khdeeda Agha Potrus (France)
25. Lewan Samson (APP, Iraq)
26. Mar Emmanuel-Karim Delly (Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Babylon, Chaldean Catholic Church)
27. Mar Giwargis Slewa (Archbishop of Iraq, Church of the East)
28. Mar Mattai Shaba Masoka (Bishop, Syrian Catholic Church)
29. Mar Severius Jamil Hawa (Bishop, Syrian Orthodox Church)
30. Mar Shlemon Warduni (Auxiliary Bishop of Babylon, Chaldean Catholic Church)
31. Mar Toma Eramya (Bishop, Ancient Church of the East, Baghdad)
32. Michael Benyamin
33. Nimrod Baito (Secretary General, Assyrian Patriotic Party, Iraq)
34. Ninous Bethyo
35. Nisan Mirza
36. Odisho Dinkha (Ashur Liberation Movement)
37. Odisho Khoshaba
38. Pauline Jasim (Assyrian American National Federation, Chicago)
39. Potrus Hurmiz
40. Robert Shimshon (Assyrian Patriotic Party, Iraq)
41. Robin Bet Shmouel (Iraq)
42. Romel Shimshon (APP, Iraq)
43. Sa'eed Yulduz (The Assyrian Associations of Europe)
44. Salam Yaldiko (Chaldean National Federation, Detroit)
45. Sam Yono (ex-President, Chaldean National Federation)
46. Shaik Sattar Jabbar Hillu (Head of the Spiritual Council for the Mandeans)
47. Sham al-Din Jirgees Sim'an (Syria)
48. Shamoon Shlimon
49. Shiba Mando (Assyrian National Council of Illinois)
50. Shmouel Noel (APP, Iraq)
51. Sooriya Esho (Secretary, Assyrian Women Union)
52. Sulaiman Yousif
53. Willy Vonre (Human Rights without Frontiers, Belgium)
54. Younan Hozaya

List of Telegrams Received

1. Aabid Malakha (research paper)
2. Afram Qomi, New York
3. Amer Karmo (President Chaldean American Club, San Diego)
4. Andreas Arsalan (International Institute for Higher Education, Sweden)
5. Arsen Michaloff (Armenia)
6. Ashurbanipal Civic, Art, and Cultural Association, Baghdad
7. Ashurbanipal Club, Sweden
8. Assyrian Chaldean Society (Aukland, New Zealand)
9. Assyrian Cultural Center, Germany
10. Assyrian Information Center, Sweden.
11. Assyrian Youth and Student Union.
12. Asyrian Academic Society, Australia.
13. Athra Society (Stockholm)
14. Aziz Michael (Assyrian Artists Association, USA)
15. Babil Chaldean Club.
16. Baghdida Theatrical Group, (Baghdida, Iraq)
17. Basil Goriel (Manager, Aramaic Information Network, USA)
18. Bet Nahrain National Party.
19. Billy Haido, SuryoyoAssyrian Club, Chicago
20. Chaldean Communication Network (Voice of Chaldeans radio station, Detroit)
21. ChaldoAshur Society of Windsor, Canada.
22. ChaldoAssyrian Writers and Literati Union
23. Daniel David Bet Benyamin (Assyrian Academic Journal, Chicago)
24. Deacon Yousif Qeenaya (research paper).
25. Dinkha Warda (Assyrian Club, Australia)
26. Farouq Giwargis (ChaldoAssyrian Society of San Diego)
27. Fouad Elia Ballo (Mar Mikha Aid Society, California)
28. Group of 33 intellectuals, poets, writers, journalists, and artists.
29. Group of intellectuals from Tellesqof
30. Hamid Essa Yaldiko (Mar Mikha Aid Society USA/Canada)
31. Hawil Hawil (Assyrian American Association, Modesto)
32. Iskandar Demiral, Sweden.
33. Ismat Karmo, Jamal Qalabat (Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce).
34. Khalid al-Ma'ali (Akkad Newspaper, Toronto, Canada. Editors, Majid Aziza, Salam al-Saffar, Wadi' Wadi', Basil al-Saffar)
35. Mahir Oraham (President, Ishtar Cultural Center, Ishtar Radio Station, Detroit, and Ala' Manour)
36. Mar Giwargis Aid Society of San Diego
37. Mar Oda Agricultural Society (Ain-Kawa, Iraq)
38. Moshi Moshi, Assyrian American Association, San Diego
39. Peter Samano (President, Ashur Association, Sweden)
40. Preparatory Committee for the Chaldean Democratic Council in USA (Shawqi Qanja, Dr. Nori Mansour, --Amir Jameel, Deacon Yousif Qeenaya, Jamal Qalabat, Fawzi Dally, Fouad Manna)
41. Preparatory Committee for the ChaldoAssyran National Council in USA (Robert Kalaita, Jamal Qalabat, Salam Yaldiko, Ismat Karmo).
42. Qais Yonan (President al-Usra (The Family) Chaldean Club, USA)
43. Ramzi George (ex-President, Chaldean American Federation)
44. Residents from the Arab Emirate Republic (Emmanuel Kalaita, William DelEil, Aprim Shapira)
45. Sam Zir (President, Chaldean National Federation)
46. Samuel Sappar (Assyrian American Association of Las Vegas)
47. Sarsank Village Council, Iraq
48. Sheerav Theatrical Group, Baghdad
49. Shimsha Acting Group (Ain-Kawa, Iraq)
50. Syriac Society, Baghdad.
51. Urhai Society for Literature and Arts
52. Wilson Toma (Assyrian Society of Willington, New Zealand)
53. Yilmaz Karimo, Swedish Parliament Member.
54. Youkhanna Khamis (Assyrian National Association, Chicago)
55. Yousif Nadhir (writer, Detroit)
56. Yousif Zaia d' Jilu, Chicago.
57. Yousif Zarra (Alqosh Civic, Art, and Cultural Association)


Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (3 November)

(ZNDA: Rome) Postwar Iraq is hoping that Europe doesn't abandon the nation. So says new Chaldean Bishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, in an interview in this month's issue of the Italian magazine Mondo e Missione.

Bishop Sako, named at the end of September and interviewed while in Italy as a guest of Pax Christi, is a top figure of the local Chaldean Church. A former rector of the seminary of Baghdad, he served as parish priest in the northern city of Mosul.

In recent months, he was elected by the population as the vice president of the interim Council of Mosul. But, being a priest, he refused the post in favor of another Chaldean representative. Here are some passages of the interview.

Q: How is life today in Iraq?

Bishop Sako: Saddam had transformed Iraq into an enormous military barracks. Two wars and 12 years of embargo resulted in a mass exodus of Iraqis abroad and a million deaths.

Today the people are happy about the change, the renewed possibility of freedom. In a few months, 80 new parties were formed, five of which are Christian. Freedom of press made possible the opening of dozens of new newspapers. Of these, six are Christian. There are also some Christian TV broadcasts originating in Mosul.

All this was not possible under Saddam!

Q: But the price of all this was a war.

Bishop Sako: Yes, but the target was not the civilians.

Q: You defend what the Americans did.

Bishop Sako: I am not trying to say that they are angels! They have their interests; they came to Iraq for that reason, not to free the Iraqis. But the fruit is, in fact, liberation.

Q: It is feared that Saddam's men are still in circulation.

Bishop Sako: There are no longer any people tied to the dictator. There are instead Arab combatants that entered Iraq, paid by the fundamentalist movements of neighboring nations or even by their respective governments.

There are those who do not want an open and free Iraq. The authors of the continuing clashes are random splinters, without any popular support.

Q: Iraq is moving slowly toward democracy. Are you satisfied with the "experiments" under way, for example, in Mosul and Kirkuk?

Bishop Sako: Yes. The people appreciate freedom. At times they criticize the choices of the Americans, but the process under way is efficient. The population personally elected me as vice president of the interim Council of Mosul. I refused the post, but am still part of the council.

We are working with the Americans since last May and I am optimistic. Undoubtedly the U.S. made some mistakes.

Q: Such as?

Bishop Sako: Their reactions are slow and they above all have not understood the Iraqi mentality and habits, the story of the nation. But they have also done some good things. The problem is of not knowing who they can trust. They live in a constant state of mistrust; the soldiers tend to shoot on a slight hint of threat.

Q: Why do you say that the Americans do not understand the Iraqis?

Bishop Sako: We are moderates by nature; the extremisms taking place are fomented from outside. It is very evident that democracy in Iraq would preoccupy the surrounding nations.

Q: Should we hope for a domino effect, i.e. that a democratic solution in Iraq will bring positive consequences to the entire region?

Bishop Sako: I don't know. The Iraqi population is among the most educated of the area. The embargo also largely affected education, but the Iraqi cultural and academic tradition is at a good level, even the Americans recognized this.

There is not the same level of education everywhere. What is certain is that your help is needed: Europe must pressure Iraq's bordering nations. While we need to learn, American democracy is not the only model -- Europe has a precious patrimony. The point today is to create an Iraqi-style democracy.

Q: You are in the process of writing your Constitution.

Bishop Sako: The national committee is at work and among its 200 members there are also five Christians [one of which is Bishop Sako]. But it takes time. The future will unfold with many small steps, the people must be formed to a new mentality.

Q: What role do you see for the Christians in this phase?

Bishop Sako: They have an important duty, despite their being relatively few. But ours is not a strength of numbers, but of culture, values, fraternity, and openness to friendly criticism.

Q: How much weight did the intervention of the Pope have in avoiding the conflict being seen as a religious war?

Bishop Sako: Extensive. The Muslims attempted to depict the war as a crusade against Islam. But they soon realized that the bombings touched everyone, Christians included, and understood that the U.S. was intervening in Iraq for economic and political reasons, not religious.

Q: What do you expect of the international community and churches abroad?

Bishop Sako: To not forget us! There are 700,000 Christians in Iraq. When in a year Iraq is out of the limelight, who will remember us? It already occurred with the Gulf War and embargo.

I launch an appeal to all the religious congregations: Come to Iraq to lend a hand, especially for formation and not only of Christians. We need to rebuild the actual Iraqi man, and we are not able to do it alone. Iraq has enormous economic potential, but spiritual resources are also needed.

Q: What future do you see for Iraq? What role do you see for the U.N.?

Bishop Sako: Europe must have a crucial role. There was extensive support before the war, while today we do not have any political support. A mistake: Europe must not leave the U.S. alone in the reconstruction of the nation.


Courtesy of Zaman Newspaper (28 October); by Zafer Ozcan

(ZNDA: Istanbul) The Journalists and Writers Foundation’s traditional Ramadan dinner last evening at the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul constituted a veritable mosaic of Turkey.

Spiritual leaders, journalists, writers, academics, artists, businessmen, and civil society representatives gathered for the 300-person dinner to convey messages of peace and dialogue.

Speaking at the dinner, Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafian said: “People who shared the same religion could not get together in this country until recent times, now people from different religions come together at the same dinner.”

He noted that this was an important development for Turkey, and added: “The person to thank for this is Fethullah Gulen and the foundation of which he is the honorary president. We followed the path opened by him.”

Syrian Bishop Yesuf Cetin also emphasized Gulen’s contributions to the three celestial religions. He said: “In Turkey, no one dared to invite Christian and Jews to a Ramadan dinner, but now, they cannot have enough of us.”

In his speech, Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos said that for peace and tranquillity in Turkey, everyone should thank Allah and he wished that Turkey would continue its determination to pursue democratisation and a place in the European Union.

On behalf of the Jewish community, Rav Ytzak Haleva underlined that the picture at the dinner was the hope of Allah.

News Digest


For immediate release
October 20, 2003

The Assyrian Universal Alliance and several political parties; Forkono (GFA), Shuraya Party, Bet-Nahrain National Alliance, Assyrian Democratic Party, Patriotic Union of Bethnahrain, Assyrian National Organization and Bet-Nahrain Freedom Party in a letter of October 7 notified the Ashurbanipal Council, which was the Preparatory Committee for the postponed conference of September, 2003 in Baghdad, that the AUA and the political parties are calling for a political conference or convention as soon as possible to agree on a unified presentation in order to have any input for our people in the new constitution for Iraq which is presently being drafted by the 25 member Constitutional Preparatory Committee.

The AUA and all the above listed political parties were participants in the Amsterdam Conference. It is their understanding that the Preparatory Committee, whose members were unknown to the political parties were selected by the sponsoring Political Parties of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa of Iraq) and the Assyrian Democratic Organization (Tagusta of Syria).

The Council or the Preparatory Committee was notified in the letter of October 7 that the conditions outlined in the September invitation made it difficult if not impossible to be united and of one voice. Since ADM and ADO were the organizers of the postponed conference of September the AUA has asked that they along with the Amsterdam Conference Parties hold a political conference or convention and include all the other political parties from Diaspora and within Iraq and include as many non-voting advisors as the parties wish to include so both political, professional and academic input will be represented at the gathering.

The goal would be to have an agreed proposal that would be directed to all those listed in the letter of October 7, namely; the Iraq Governing Council, US Civil Administrator, Ambassador Paul Bremer, the Coalition Provisional Authority, the US National Security Council, the US Congress, President George W. Bush and his Administration, the major governments of the world, the United Nations and the world media. The proposal would also be distributed throughout the Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac communities. This procedure in effect would eliminate the excuse that our nation is divided and fractured.

It was reported that several individuals and organizations had been invited to a meeting in Baghdad for October 22, 2003 by Zowaa (ADM) officials and representatives. Apparently the above mentioned political parties were not to be invited. This assumption was based on several incidents that happened. First, there has been no communication nor an answer to our letter of October 7 which was sent to the council and to representative Yonadam Kanna. It seemed that there was a deliberate effort to discourage participation of AUA and the political parties. No invitation or notices were sent to the political parties or any announcements concerning the postponed meeting and no information was received announcing any meeting in October. Reports confirmed that some individuals and organizations were notified and invited since they were attending such meeting.

Some of the reported incidents referred to were; in Australia why would a long time senior member of ours receive an invitation to attend? In Iran some members of the Motvas were invited but they chose not to attend. Invitations then followed to several Assyrian Iranian individuals to attend and represent Iran even though they do not represent any Assyrian organizations. This same pattern was followed in other countries. In Canada and Russia local representatives were contacted and encouraged to represent their countries but they declined.

A few weeks ago the ADM American representatives at an unexpected meeting with AUA failed to confirm that there was an October meeting nor did they extend an invitation to participate. However, the same representatives were quick to call and invite our radio program director to come and take over the Zowaa radio program.

It is strange that no reply to date has been received from the organizing committee or Zowaa the sponsoring political parties to the letter of October 7. This letter was sent not only to the Preparatory Committee but also to governing council representative. Sen. John J. Nimrod, ret. Secretary General of AUA stated that these kinds of actions are non productive, unnecessary and detrimental to our cause at a time when our nation needs to unify and be of one voice before those able to help us.

We look forward to review the action that will be taken at the October Baghdad meeting and to see what decisions are made and by whom so that the results may be taken into consideration by the convention of all the political parties this year.

Assyrian Universal Alliance
Contact: Carlo Ganjeh
Cell: 408-892-5914


Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph (2 November); by Damien McElroy

(ZNDA: Baghdad) Hostile sounds of a city in revolt drift over the iron gate as one of the last Christian families in Ramadi, a hotbed of Islamic resistance in post-Saddam Iraq, prepares for lunch.

Before the war, the Oro family ran a popular entertainment empire, serving alcohol in their restaurants and shops. Now, an Islamic fatwa declares that no one should trade in alcohol on pain of death.

The big casino and dance hall that was once the flagship of the family's 15-strong property portfolio has been taken over by bearded men who plan to turn it into Ramadi's premier mosque.

"Fifty years I was working with drink and now I have nothing," said David Younan Oro, the 70-year-old patriarch, his voice trailing off. "They drink like donkeys here. Business was good. I had a lot of restaurants and shops. Now my family tell me they want to kill me for keeping them here in this place."

Nineteen people share the Oros' small house and its immaculate garden with rose bushes. The youngest girls, Younan's grandchildren aged between two and five, cannot speak Arabic but chatter in Assyrian, a language that dates back to the ninth century BC.

They still manage to travel to Sunday services, piling into a bus shared with other families, but as the women of the house fried rice in the kitchen last week, the men - many of whom have Christian names - argued over when to leave Ramadi.

"We had a very good situation until the fundamentalists began to appear and we were affected," said Roger William, his son-in-law. "They changed the idea of Christians among the people and from then on we have suffered. Because America and Britain are Christian countries, they blame us for the war. We are terrified. We really don't know what the future will hold."

Even as war loomed, Younan was confident of expanding his business, borrowing two million dinars (£1,000) from a tribal chief to open new premises. In the month that followed the collapse of Saddam's regime, his shops were broken into and the stock smashed to pieces. He cannot repay his loan.

"I have nothing," he said. "I do not dare to reopen my shops. Since the war the people here have to rely on tribes for protection of their businesses. We have no tribe."

Ramadi, 100 miles west of Baghdad, has long been a stronghold of a fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam. Nonetheless, thousands of Christians were attracted to the area by the prospect of working as clerks, nurses, cleaners and launderers at the biggest RAF base in the Middle East, 15 miles out of town at Harbiniye.

Younan was born in the mountains on the Turkish border but left to seek work at Hibbaniyah. "At the time we called this area the 'Second London' but now it's a joke," he said. "Slowly our people are going."

Only 10 Christian families are left in Ramadi. Charlemagne Shmool, the parish priest, remembers the English airmen from the base, now taken over by the Americans. Now there is no hope of work for poverty-stricken local people: the perimeter has been sealed with earth-filled barricades and heavily-armed sentries.

He said recent clashes between Christians and Muslims had left one of his parishioners dead. "The fundamentalists have put pressure on us as never before," he said. "Within 10 years there will be no Christians in this area. We will be finished."

There are an estimated 700,000 Chaldean Christians and more than a million Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Shlimon Wardouni, the Chaldean Bishop of Baghdad, last week warned the Vatican that the Iraqi Christians faced a grave future.

"We ask for our interests to be included in the new Iraqi constitution, for our villages to be protected, for our rights to maintain our religious, cultural and linguistic traditions to be recognised," he said.


(ZNDA: New York) Why does a former human shield now support the war in Iraq? That was the Big Question for Rev. Kenneth Joseph.

FoxNews Newscaster John Gibson gets to the core of the most salient issues facing America today as host of hard-hitting primetime show "The Big Story" with John Gibson. A segment of Noember 3rd program was about the Christians of Iraq. Gibson's guest in the studio was Rev. Kenneth Joseph, who appeared at 5:50 p.m. (2:50 p.m. California Time).

Gibson began the last segment of that day’s show by saying that Americans “have been hearing a lot about many religious groups in Iraq like the Shi'aa, but not much about the Assyrian Christians.” He stated that the Assyrian Christians in Iraq were about 2.5 million.

He introduced Rev. Ken Joseph as a former Human Shield who traveled to Iraq. He asked Rev. Joseph to explain why he had changed his mind? Gibson reminded the viewers of Joseph's now famous article "I was Wrong."

Before saying anything, Rev. Joseph made sure that the viewers knew who he was: “I am an Assyrian”, he said.

Then Rev. Joseph replied that his change of heart started soon after his arrival in Baghdad. He said that it was at a church service when one parishioner turned to him and told him: “But we do not want to stop the war.”

Rev. Joseph described the language of the new Iraqi constitution. He stated that there are strong indications that the new constitution will indicate an article that Islam is the religion of the state. He stated that this would not benefit any group and it will be the end for Iraq. He added that through his communications with various Iraqis, he knows that they adamantly oppose this and prefer a secular Iraq.

Gibson explained that the Assyrian Christians are 10% of the Iraqi population. He turned to Rev. Joseph and asked him what is the attitude of these Christians? Rev. Joseph answered that Iraq actually and originally was Assyria and that Assyrians have no conflict of interest with the general population if a secular Iraq was instituted to protect all Iraqis.


Courtesy of the Independent (26 October); by Robert Verkaik

(ZNDA: London) Three antiques dealers have been arrested in a secret police operation to combat the growing trade in artefacts stolen from Iraq.

Officers from Scotland Yard's Arts and Antiques Unit have recovered a number of valuable pieces stolen from Iraqi museums and archaeological sites since 1990. It follows newly introduced United Nations laws that came into force in Britain in June which make it an offence to be knowingly involved in the importation or exportation of illegally removed Iraqi cultural property.

One of the suspects, a 75-year-old dealer who holds a British passport and is of Iranian descent, was arrested and released on police bail last month during an undercover investigation into a central London antiques gallery.

In connection with that arrest, officers recovered an Assyrian "stone relief" depicting a "sacred winged guardian holding fruit from a sacred tree" worth many thousands of pounds.

The item was looted from the palace of Ashur Nasir-pal II in central Iraq after the first Gulf War of 1991.

Dr Neil Brodie, the co-ordinator of the Illicit Antiques Research Centre, which was established to help archaeologists combat the massive looting in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, said the new legislation gave police forces wide powers to target the trade in Iraqi antiquities. He said it was impossible to put a value on the illicit Iraqi trade in London but that it probably ran into millions of pounds.


Courtesy of Zenit News Agency (28 October)

(ZNDA: Ankara) The Vatican is not opposed to Turkey's entry in the European Union, says the papal nuncio in Ankara, Turkey.

Archbishop Edmond Farhat, in statements added that the Holy See would like Turkey to complete its reforms in the area of personal and religious liberties before becoming an EU member.

The archbishop said that the Vatican's main criticism of Ankara is that the Church is not legally recognized in Turkey, a fact which Turkish authorities have made no effort to address.

Surfs Up!
Letters From Zinda Magazine Readers


The true purpose of the holocaust is the 'annihilation of a people'.

In the Assyrian case, it doesn't have to be perpetrated by the enemy, that is, if there ever was one. We are our own enemies. We are the perpetrators.

Last night, November 2, I attended a gathering of some 150 people assembled at the St. Mary's Parish of the Assyrian Church of the East in Los Angeles.

The main speaker who has just returned from Iraq, was none other than my old friend, relative and comrade-in-arms, Robert deKelaita.

Throughout his 55 minutes speech, he mentioned not even once the word Assyria or Assyrians. Instead the harangue went on about Zowaa, and his partisans' and their decision to change and to submit a new name for us. Chaldeo-Aramaic-Syriac-Christian-Assyrian. I believe he forgot to insert the word Kurd into this conglomeration.

We all know very well the docility of our nationals. Here they are, sitting in the hall of their Church, and being members of the Assyrian-American Association of Southern California, and giving him an applause--although politely.

I wanted to walk out of the hall, but, I had my family with me, and didn't wish to impose my feelings upon them to follow suit. So I just sat. However, when Mr. De Kelaita declared that they had reached the decision to make such a change, I simply stood up and repeating myself two times, said: "It's Wrong. It's Wrong.”

I am sure you can assess the rest. But, in short, I walked out right after he had finished his speech.

Atour, I have a question. Is this the trend in Chicago nowadays for our people to go around muddling our name, the only thing left sacred to us? Is Mark (Thomas) with the same opinion as Robert?

Should our churches, associations, federation all scrap their name in favor of a new one?

The theory behind all this is that it makes us stronger. Stronger for what, submission?

If it is so, then why not be simply Americans, English, French, Deutch, Iranians, Kurds, Turks or Bedouins.

For 438 years no other voice, except that of the Assyrians was raised in protecting our identity. All the rest, Chaldeans, Syriacs, and the unheard of, (and frankly, nonexitent) people that some think they do exist, like Aramaic or Christian Kurds, had accepted the way of life they had chosen. Assyrians that wished to retain their identity never stood in their way.

We still don't and won't stand on anyone's way to categorize themselves any which way they feel.

In conclusion, just glance at the international institutions' curricula. There is Assyriology, Assyrian Bas-Reliefs, Assyrian Art, Assyrian Tablets, Assyrian Philosophy, Assyrian Cuisine. There are no courses being offered anywhere on Chaldeology, Kurdeo-Christianity, nor Aramaity. Although there are churches of Chaldean ideology, Chaldean Patriarchs, and a language known to us as Aramaic.

If you can respond to me on this matter, please do so.

Ivan Kakovitch


Z-info: Last week, the Australian Broadcast Company reported an “Assyrian” as a possible bombing suspect in an attack against the U.S. troops around Baghdad. With the help of our readers and Zinda team in Australia, this error was quickly corrected. Mr. David Chebo, our correspondent wrote to ABC as follows:

Dear ABC, I was greatly disappointed by the error in an article titled, Bombing bloodshed puts Baghdad residents on edge published by Sally Sara on Tuesday the 28th of October. In the article I was amazed to read the following sentence; "Another attack was averted when police opened fire at a bomber before he could blow himself up. Coalition officials say the man was Assyrian."

After cross checking with several other media releases to confirm if this was in fact true I have come to the conclusion that your reporter may have inadvertently either misspelled or misheard the report regarding the captured bomber.

In all other articles the bomber has been clearly identified as a Syrian and not Assyrian. A big difference. Needless to say this type of erroneous media coverage paints a negative image of our people in Iraq who have and continue to unfortunately support the US-led forces.

We’d like to please request a retraction and if possible a correction of this article.

Thanking you in advance for your time and consideration.

David Chibo

Z-info: The following is a response from ABC:

Hello David, I apologise for this error. It wasn't even the journalist, as when I listened to the audio it was "a Syrian" but run together quickly it sounded like "Assyrian" so I suspect our transcriber has misheard.

I have now corrected this mistake in our online transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2003/s976529.htm

Rhiannon Treasure-Brand
Radio Current Affairs


As I was reading your current issue, The Lighthouse's article was referring to all of the questions which were brought to our attention by Mr. David Oraha in your April 28th, 2003 issue and it can also be found on Nohra's website (http://nohra.ca/magazine/news/assyarewe.htm).

It would have been important to refer to Mr. Oraha as the author of those questions.

Nevertheless, I congratulate all of Zinda's team for the effort invested on the magazine. Yours in Assyrianism,

Mary Younan

[Z-info: Zinda Magazine stands corrected for the unintentional oversight.]


It is so unfortunate and saddening that we are still unable to learn from our own mistakes and insist on discrediting each other’s views and efforts. The Chaldean Syriac Assyrian General Conference held in Baghdad last month has published its final declaration, which clearly demands from the Iraqis to recognize our most important national rights in the new constitution. Alas, and yet to hear the Iraqis’ response, we hear some of our own voices that refused to attend the conference (even as observers!) and now are discrediting everything came out from this conference. Ironically, we heard from the Iraqis more support than we have expected from our own people when the IGC representative tells us “This is not the country where you live, this is your country”. I think this is a huge turn in the Iraqi public view, which we never have faced before, to have high ranking Iraqi official attend our own conference demanding our own national rights and yet talks to us with these powerful words.

We know that there is more than one group who opposed and boycott this conference. First group is the new separatists of politicians and clergies in the Chaldean congregation who are even planning for their own conference in February 2004. They are advocating for creating new ethnic group or nation! There are questions yet to be answered by this group on why these voices suddenly became loud and what ethnicity they held all these decades if not centuries. Second group is those who disagree only with the “dictatorship” of the leaders of Zowaa, as they claim, for adopting the new name “ChaldoAssyrians”. However, they do not say a word on their position about the demands in this declaration and whether it suffices our national rights or not. The third group is those who could not take their stand in this challenge and opted, as usual, to wait for some outcome that might help them in their future decision! This group reminds me the priest’s words during any wedding ceremony proceedings when he asks the crowd if anyone opposes this marriage should speak out now or keeps his silence forever.

To these three groups, I would say with all respect, do you have the courage to show your real intentions and can you face your nation and tell your exact reasons for your stands against these efforts? Can you present your solid analogy, far from empty emotional words, on why these demands fail to fulfill our national rights and if so, what are your alternatives? Don’t you all agree that it would have been much more successful should our media have covered the conference in a productive and supportive ways? Don’t you all agree that being present in the event to express your views and address your points of disagreement would be more productive than doing it now after the fact and in a passive way?

Some shameless voices are even advocating for depriving our clergies from expressing their views or taking their stand in the current efforts to reinstate our national rights. To these voices I would say, our clergies have full rights to engage and to express their views for more than one reason. Firstly, they are part of this nation and have equal rights and freedom as others have to speak out their views. Secondly, they have the obligations towards their faithful to express their blessing and support to what they believe is the best interests of our nation.

Let us hear the voice of reason in our nation to speak out objectively, clearly and beyond doubt. Let the voice of reason and not anger address these demands stated in the final declaration and prove if they fail to serve our national rights and what are the alternative demands. We need to hear from our true nationalists their voice of rationale to improve and enrich our efforts rather than those loud empty voices of unconstructive criticism. We need productive individuals with positive attitudes to engage in the struggle for our national rights. We must prove that we are civilized, as we claim. We are rich in our own intellectuals, politicians and activists who are able to present our case to the world and build adequate international support. Our current efforts must lead us to the full recognition of our national rights otherwise; we will face another failure and we have no one to blame except ourselves.

Alfred Alkhas


I read with interest your article about the ancient treasures of Iraq, specifically the Gold of Nimrud (October 2003). Considering the age of these magnificent Assyrian pieces, we can truly say that their workmanship puts Tiffany's to shame. I was somewhat disappointed, though, at your failure to mention the background of Mr. Donny George Youkhana, the man in charge of the Baghdad Museum. Here's an Assyrian Christian in 2003 guarding the treasures of his pre-Christianity ancestors. I consider the linkage quite fascinating and certainly worth citing.

Bailis Y. Shamun
North Carolina

Surfer's Corner


A series of seminars on the "Trade and Politics in Ancient Assyria"
Professor Klaas Veenhof, Leiden University

November 6, 20, and 27, 2003 at 18.00 (6 pm).

All seminars will take place in the Committee Room (next to the Council Room in the Registry Corridor)
Main Building, UCL

All welcome.

Fore more details: Institute of Jewish Studies, 020 7679 3520, uclhvtm@ucl.ac.uk; fax. 0044 (0)20 7209 1026


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The Assyrian Christians could face serious problems in Iraq if certain issues are not addressed and solved immediately. First, have we wondered how the predominantly Christian north become so dominating by Kurds? What will the Assyrians face in an official Kurdish north knowing that the Kurds have persistently persecuted them, marginalized their presence and labeled them Christian Kurds and have tried hard to divide them across their religious denominations? Few articles have addressed the first question and mainly from its historical perspective, i.e. the creation of the so-called Iraqi Kurdistan. However, there is an obvious neglect in studies about the sociological and geopolitical implications of the Kurd's plans on the indigenous Assyrians and on north of Iraq respectively. Second, what would the future of Assyrian Christians be in a country that is insisting on its Islamic essence and perhaps be administered and run by the Islamic Law of Shari'aa? What will happen to the Assyrian Christians if the Iranian experience was imported to Iraq, since the Iran backed Shi'aa segment are very influential? The Assyrians must concentrate on these two core issues.

Before we Attempt to simply addressing these two questions, Assyrians must take a step back, examine, and evaluate their political and national achievements on the national and international levels, where they stand today and finally be objective and realistic. To examine and evaluate the stand of any group of people, we must first examine and evaluate the political, civic, and religious structure and groups that represents those people. This I say because this structure and those groups are the front face of the community. It would be appropriate and vital therefore to look at two groups of organizations: Those at home and those at the Diaspora. Now, keeping the two core issues mentioned above in mind, the question I would like to ask is: what are the Assyrian organizations doing towards such dangers? Do they have a strategy or a solution for this disaster that is looming from a distance? I want to look at the issue from the perspective of an Assyrian from the Diaspora in this short post.

For months, we have seen and heard continuous attacks on the person of the Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), Mr. Yonadam Kanna. Mind you, that he was selected by the Americans as one of the 25 members of the Iraqi Governing Council to represent the Assyrian Christians and with the approval of many Iraqi leaders. Leading these attacks is the AssyriaSat TV station based in Ceres California. Bet Nahrain Inc. runs this satellite station under the leadership of Dr. Sargon Dadesho, President of the Assyrian National Congress (ANC). These attacks come from other members of the Bet Nahrain.Inc., including its Vice President and other TV programs hosts (check for example Sunday October 19, 2003 program). Week after week, the members of AssyriaSat have attacked, marginalized, undermined, and made some wild claims that are beyond any logic against the ADM and other individuals who are supporting the ADM and its efforts of uniting our people in Iraq.

The Vice President of Bet Nahrain Inc. claims that when Mr. Kanna fled Iraq to Urmia due to fear of persecution, it was Bet Nahrain Democratic Party (BNDP) that supported him financially. Additionally, she claims that in 1996, when Iraqi troops invaded Arbil, Mr. Kanna and ADM fighters abandoned their main centers and fled to Syria. She further claims that it was the BNDP fighters, who protected ADM centers, their properties, and some of the remaining ADM members. [1]

The questions here to ask are: first, what "BNDP fighters" is the Vice President speaking of and what is their numbers in Iraq? Second, if the BNDP was that powerful for being able to present all that support and protection in 1996 (as she claims) with the absence and departure of the ADM's leadership and fighters, what prevented the BNDP to fill the vacuum created? Furthermore, as persecuted Assyrians, why was the ADM leadership compelled to flee while the Bet Nahrain personnel were able to remain? On top of this all, why is it that BNDP has failed to gain the support of the people after over 30 years of existence in Iraq or Diaspora for that matter?

The Vice President did not stop there. She and her brother have begun a tireless campaign in order to dominate the Internet forums as well, just as they do with the TV media. They came strong and flooded the Assyrian forum with accusations against this and that who sympathize with and support the ADM or the efforts of unity. However, they did not understand that Internet forums are not like TV station programs. While a host on the AssyriaSat TV programs can say whatever he/she pleases without any challenges (as they sensor who calls majority of the time, with few exceptions) the Internet based forums are visited by many educated and intellectuals who seldom tolerate nonsense and lies and will speak their mind. While AssyriaSat is driven by and for BNDP, most of the popular Assyrian Internet forums are not driven by a specific Assyrian organization, thus, in that capacity they are unbiased.

In one of her posts directed at me personally, the Vice President of Bet Nahrain Inc. accused me of receiving paychecks from the ADM to influence my opinion and stand towards the combined ChaldoAssyrian name. [2] Her accusations are of course absurd and a total lie. I have challenged her on the Assyrian forum to prove her allegations, and I am continuing to do that here on Zinda Magazine.

Allow me to clear up an issue here. Depending on the article I write, I try if necessary, to address an issue from various perspectives. That does not mean that I personally am a believer in every thought that I present in such article for the sake of making the argument. For example, here is what I stated in my first complete article about the name issue:
"I personally would have preferred the more historic "Assyrian" name or yet the inclusive "Assyrians (including Chaldeans and Suryan)" compromise in exchange for a better national future for all the Syriac-speaking people in Iraq. But the question remains, am I in position to speak on behalf of the Assyrians in Iraq? Well, maybe not. Still, this is my name and changing or altering it makes it my business." [3] Does the above mean that I no longer defend the Assyrian name, as few at Bet Nahrain Inc. claim?

Furthermore, AssyriaSat through many of its programs has labeled Mr. Kanna and the ADM as traitors to the Assyrian cause and name (check for example October 26, 2003 program) because and as it claims, Mr. Kanna has decided on his own to change the name of our nation to ChaldoAssyrians. Program after another, the hosts forbade Mr. Kanna from altering the Assyrian national name and questioned his authority to make such changes. Allow me to say that talk is cheap, and there is nothing more repulsive to Assyrians to hear Assyrian public figures investing so much of their time (seems that they have a lot of free time) on attacking other Assyrians when they should be working on the benefits of our people. The question that comes to mind immediately is: what have these attackers done for the Assyrian cause. Mr. Kanna and the ADM did not alter the Assyrian name, they made a suggestion based on conditions on the ground and called a conference, and over 160 (close to 1000 attendees at the opening ceremony) representatives of different organizations, institutions and various church denominations, speakers, intellectuals, scholars, and notables attended that conference in Baghdad. They agreed on this ChaldoAssyrian title as our national and Syriac as our language and cultural unifying names. They argued that we could not change hundreds of years of disputes over night and that we needed time to rectify the mistakes and heal the wounds.

What the AssyriaSat and Bet Nahrain Inc. are purposely refusing to mention is that these compound names were not invented by ADM. In November 29, 1996, both patriarchs, the Late Mar Raphael I Bidawid (Chaldean Catholic Church) and Dinkha IV (Assyrian Church of the East) signed a joint declaration at the Chaldean Diocese in South Field, Michigan.

In article (2) of that declaration, the two patriarchs, joined by, among others, Bishops Bawai Soro, Ibrahim Ibrahim, Sarhad Jammo (Fr. Jammo at the time), agreed that the two churches are but two branches of the same historic Church of the East. They went on to state that the two patriarchs wished God's help to achieve the union of the two branches. With this declaration, they sought to encourage their Chaldean and Assyrian congregations to protect their Christian faith and save their "Assyrian-Chaldean" heritage. Article (3) (point gamal or "C") of the declaration stressed the strengthening of the mother Aramaic language by both churches. In article (5), the two patriarchs asked all clergymen and believers to support this unity for the sake of love, hope, glory to the name of God and the benefit of all "Assyrian-Chaldean" people.

If Bet Nahrain Inc. and its official mouthpiece AssyriaSat (Assyria Vision) would continue to label ADM (ZOWAA) as a traitor through many of their programs, shouldn't they show us their stand from the use of "Assyrian-Chaldean" (Atouraya-Kaldaya) use by the two patriarchs? If ZOWAA had used the "Assyrian-Chaldean" style, just like the two patriarchs had used in their declaration, would that be acceptable by Bet Nahrain Inc.?

Furthermore, allow me to read to you excerpts from the constitution of BNDP printed in Sargon Dadesho's book, "The Assyrian National Question." The constitution reads, quote: "The measuring rod of any race or people, as reflected by its mark of cultural progress, is the degree of social unity which it possesses: where a union of hearts and hands has prevailed, a nation or race prospers; where the contrary is true, that nation or race perishes." [4] Unquote. The above are big impressive words! What have the Bet Nahrain Party (since 1970) and BNDP (since April 1974) done to accomplish this noble goal? The Assyrian public is tired of paper-style organizations that are empty of substance, organizations that are about issuing declarations and signing worthless petitions only. Assyrians want to see a national agenda and an ideology that is backed by a solid plan and finally a follow up process to ensure the implementation of such plans. Assyrians want to see:

1. Plans to help the Assyrians in Jordan, who have been there helplessly for 12 years.
2. Resolutions about Assyrians that pass in the United States Congress.
3. Plans to help the thousands of Assyrians in Greece who are still considered illegal in the country regardless to how long they have been there.
4. Plans to pass a resolution in the U.S. to recognize the Assyrian Genocide.
5. Plans to unite this nation.
6. Plans to protect our youth in the Diaspora.
7. Build cultural centers that attracts Assyrian youth and provide serious cultural programs.
8. Plans to recognize and protect the Assyrians in their ancestral homelands.
9. Plans to regain and establish Assyria in the end.
10. Invest in the production and publication of programs and books to familiarize the West about Assyrians and their political, national, and cultural struggle.

How much of AssyriaSat time is invested in exposing the oppressive policies of the Kurdish groups in north of Iraq? How much time is invested in exposing the unfair acts of Barzani and Talabani? How much of AssyriaSat programs is devoted for educating the Arabic and English speaking audience about the Kurdish atrocities, past and present, against the Assyrians? Instead of devoting AssyriaSat main time on exposing the Kurdish atrocities, AssyriaSat's time is greatly invested in attacking Assyrians of Iraq! That amazes me. Whom is AssyriaSat serving? Why is AssyriaSat attacking Mr. Kanna and the ADM day in and day out, when it does not attack the Kurds in the same manner? The Kurds, who are the main reason for much of our weakness, oppressions, loss of lands and properties, loss of villages, assassinations, forced migrations, etc. with the same intensity? My family used to wait on pins and needles to visit weekends in Modesto, visit family members, and watch AssyriaSat. My father used to be so happy sitting there and watching an Assyrian international TV station, he used to be so proud. Today, he does not want to watch it any more; it depresses him hearing all these personal attacks on fellow Assyrians by Assyrians while the world is watching.

With the announcement of the General Conference in Baghdad that took place on October 22-24, 2003, to address many issues that concern our people, certain organizations declared that they were boycotting that conference. One must ask: why? Instead of boycotting the conference and attacking the ADM and the conference, the small Assyrian organizations that predominantly have hand-counted members, should have participated and presented their own views and alternatives.

In the West, Assyrian organizations scream, "We want Atour, we want Atour." Well, unlike poets, writers, and speakers, political organizations must have a strategy and plan to accomplish this dream; words alone will not cut it. The Diaspora organizations have failed to gain a wide base support, and that is only natural since the people know the reality of these organizations; they have been exposed for what they really represent. They are in many cases a one-man show, sometimes driven for economical reasons while cleverly taking advantage of the simple minded emotional Assyrians. They scream Atour, Atour when they have not yet put the fundamental foundations for how to bring this Atour to existence. To cover their failure, they boycott such conferences because they cannot attend and reject the reality on the ground or the solutions presented and most importantly provide their alternative solutions. There is nothing easier than to sit there and scream and attack; is this Assyrianism; the ultimate national activity?

I want to end with a question by Raabi Willian Daniel, who writes: "Our poor nation has become like a garden without a fence or a ripe wheatfield without a scarecrow. There is no obstruction of any kind to check any glutton whose fancy drives him to jump in and satiate his greed. What are you and I doing about it? How long shall this state of things jeopardize the destiny of a people or shall we remain speechless until it is too late to divert disaster?" [5] I wish Raabi Daniel was alive; he would have been pleased with the final statement of the ChaldoAssyrian Conference in Baghdad, because only in unity we will survive.

We are Assyrians, no one can change that; the Greeks, Romans, Parthians, Sassanids, Arabs, Mongols, Tartars, and Ottoman Turks could not take that away from us. Assyrians (including Chaldeans, Nestorians, and Jacobites) need time to gather the lost pieces. With a correct history curriculum in a free democratic Iraq, our children will read Assyrians' true history and they will realize who they are. With education, we will defeat this disease of ignorance that is dividing us; our future generations will get over these mishaps, misunderstandings, and mistakes. Let us give the Assyrians of Iraq that chance.

Fred Aprim

References and Notes:

[1] http://www.aina.org/bbs/index.cgi?read=13499
[2] http://www.aina.org/bbs/index.cgi?read=11761
[3] http://www.atour.com/government/docs/20030611a.html
[4] Sargon Dadesho, "The Assyrian National Question." Modesto, 1987, p. 260.
[5] William Daniel, "Assyrians of Today: Their Problem and a Solution." Chicago, 1969, p. 42.


Courtesy of the Daily Telegraph (29 October); by David Rennie

The United States is failing in its mission to create a secular, overtly pro-Western Iraq, a leading adviser to the American administrator Paul Bremer said.

Instead, the new, democratic Iraq appears bound to be an Islamic state - with an official role for Islam, and Islamic law enshrined in its constitution.

That prospect is triggering alarm and opposition from the White House and the Pentagon, according to Noah Feldman, a leading American expert in Islamic law.

Dr Feldman served as senior constitutional adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, working closely with Mr Bremer. Returning from Baghdad this summer, the New York University law professor now works as an unpaid adviser to the CPA, to the White House, and to different factions in the Iraqi Governing Council.

"The end constitutional product is very likely to make many people in the US government unhappy. It's not going to look the way people imagined it looking," said Dr Feldman.

"Any democratically elected Iraqi government is unlikely to be secular, and unlikely to be pro-Israel. And frankly, moderately unlikely to be pro-American."

While these predictions are spreading alarm inside the administration, Dr Feldman advocates dealing with Islamic democrats.

He argues that Islamic parties will rise anyway, and are most dangerous when forced underground by secular autocrats. Such views led Pentagon officials to accuse Dr Feldman of being "soft on Islam".

"When I tell them these things [Islam and Islamic law] are going to be in the constitution, people are very concerned about it. They want to know what can be done to avoid these things. There's still a hope that the country will be as secular as possible.

"But frankly nothing in Iraq is going to look the way people imagined. Maybe if people had taken that on board, they might have felt differently about the plan for an invasion."

The hawkish idealists who pushed hardest for regime change in Iraq saw the fall of Baghdad as the first step towards remaking the Middle East.

In their vision, Iraq would rise up as a democratic, secular, free market capitalist beacon to its neighbours - guided, at least initially, by such exiled leaders as Ahmad Chalabi, a secularist and Pentagon favourite.

In their plan, the country was to be turned into a federation of 18 or so provinces, preventing such powerful ethnic factions as the Kurds from setting up autonomous fiefdoms that might split the country apart and threaten the stability of an already volatile neighbourhood.

Yet the Kurds have made it plain that they expect to emerge with an autonomous Kurdish region, and will not support any constitution that would split their territory into mini-provinces, Dr Feldman reported. Though US allies, the Kurds retain 40,000 men under arms, and have declined US invitations to disband such militias.

Pentagon officials sent Dr Feldman to Baghdad for his knowledge of Islamic law. In many ways he was an unlikely candidate: he is a Democrat, Jewish and still only 32.

One senior administration official declared before the war that the first foreign policy of a democratic Iraq would be to recognise Israel.

"I don't know what he was smoking when he said that," said Dr Feldman. He argued that Iraqi-Israeli relations were off the radar, as Washington struggled simply to keep Iraq from slipping into disaster.

[Z-info: Dr. Feldman is an Assistant Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. He received his A.B. from Harvard University, D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1994 and his Law Degree from Yale Law School in 1997 at the age of 26. Dr. Feldman can be reached for comments at noah.feldman@nyu.edu.]


Courtesy of the United Press International (28 October); by Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.

(ZNDA: Baghdad) On a quiet afternoon in Baghdad I waited with some trepidation for a meeting with a member of the Preparatory Committee for the Constitution of the Iraqi Governing Council. This is the group charged with putting together the recommendations for the new Iraqi constitution.

I say with trepidation because after conversations with Ambassador Paul Bremer and sitting in on his testimony before Congressional Committees it seemed clear that the Iraqi constitution would be an Islamic one.

Critic after critic I spoke to was clear that the battle for a secular constitution for Iraq was over. Words such as "they are just going to have to live with it," referred to the minority Assyrian Christians, of whom I am one. As can be imagined, many Christians in Iraq are alarmed at the prospect of a post-Saddam Iraq being even worse than when he was in power, and that a secular dictator will be replaced by an Islamic fundamentalist regime.

The most important issue facing Iraq is in fact the constitution. If a secular constitution is put in place establishing the rule of law with a clear separation of church and state, then there is truly a future for Iraq. Having been born and raised in Japan I have lived the miracle of what an American-imposed constitution did for a nation in a similar state as Iraq now finds itself in. The constitution is critical.

Ambassador Bremer when asked the question "will the future Iraqi constitution contain the words 'Islam is the religion of the State' replied 'that is for the Iraqis to decide -- after all the British constitution is 'Christian.'"

His clear testimony, much to the consternation of the committee members was that they were doing the best to get a good, secular constitution for the Iraqi people but that as a Muslim country they really had no choice and could not insist. Imagine my surprise when I began to speak with the representative from the very committee charged with making the recommendations for the constitution of Iraq.

"The committee will be recommending that there be no inclusion of any ideology or religion in the constitution."

I was expecting to get into an argument as to how Iraq must not have an Islamic constitution if there was any hope for the country to succeed. I was completely taken aback as the representative continued.

"If there is any mention of religion or ideology or a phrase such as 'Islam is the religion of the state,' it will be the death of democracy in Iraq."

Any such mention would disenfranchise half of the Iraqi population -- namely the women.

I could not believe my ears. I thought the Iraqi committee as had been clearly presented in Washington were going to put together a constitution that was Islamic. The Coalition was doing all it could to persuade them otherwise but it was a losing battle.

The representative continued: "The Iraqi people are secular and will never accept any mention of this in the constitution. We do not want to become like Iran.

"We just want to become like a normal country. We want a constitution that is secular and gives local autonomy. It is against the teaching of the Koran to allow religion's involvement in government.

"We have suffered for many, many long years under dictatorship and we will never, never lose this chance for democracy and freedom that has finally come to us."

I was stunned! Why was the message so different?

I then proceeded to explain the testimony of Ambassador Bremer before various congressional committees which I had attended as well as my personal conversation with him.

The response was immediate anger! "That is none of Mr. Bremer's business!"

Then the anger turned to surprise. "We thought the Americans wanted democracy to grow in Iraq? Why would they even think of an Islamic constitution?"

What could I say? I had no words! Why in the world would the Americans fight a war to liberate Iraq only to let the country fall into an Islamic government worse than the one it had before?

Well, there is hope. The Iraqis are more intelligent than we give them credit for and their message is simple. Do not speak for us. We will speak for ourselves. We will never allow victory to be snatched from us. We will be free.

Rev. Kenneth Joseph

[Z-info: Rev. Ken Joseph Jr., an Assyrian has been in Iraq since before the war and is currently writing a book based on his experiences in Iraq entitled "I Was Wrong."]



Six thousands years ago the Assyrian Empire was the governing power in Mesopotamia. It has been called “The Cradle of Civilisation” because of its many contributions to the afterworld. One of them, maybe not have been planned for in the early years before Christ, is the Assyrian soccer who has flourished and filled the hearts of many soccer-lovers with warmth in the cold home grounds of Sweden.

In Södertälje, a Swedish city inhabited by 80,000 people, people are preparing for the greatest soccer event ever happened in the history of the city. The pride of Södertälje, soccerteam Assyriska has against all odds managed to make it to the finals of the Swedish Cup, where the winner is granted participation in next years UEFA Cup.

Assyriska, which is also a cultural association started by Assyrian immigrants in 1971, has made the impossible possible. Playing in Superettan, counterpart to Englands Division 1, Assyriska has beaten three Allsvenskan, counterpart to Englands Premiere League, teams on their way to the final; Örebro SK (away) 3-2, IFK Göteborg (home) 4-1 and in the semi-final the Assyrians claimed their greatest victory ever by humiliating the reigning Swedish Champions, Djurgården, on their home arena by four goals to nothing.

The success has created a media storm where every newspaper, radio channel and TV network has shown their interest in the Association’s fairy tale. This is understandable because this story has gained tremendous attention world-wide because it engages not only on the sports field but also on the politics.

For the Assyrian people who do not have their own country, Assyriska has become more of a national team for all Assyrians all over the world, explains Robil Haidari Head of Marketing. “This means that fans from Europe, USA and even Australia are present for the final”, he continues.

The final game was played 1st of November against Elfsborg from Allsvenskan. No matter the outcome of the final the Assyrian people had stated the following: The Assyrian people were not exterminated by the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC. On the contrary their descendants are living prosperous successful lives which their forefathers should be proud of. In the footprints of their forefathers they are still contributing to the world of today.”

Moussa Esa
Hujådå Magazine
Assyriska Riksförbundet i Sverige
The Assyrian Federation in Sweden


Assyriska are now firmly established as Södertälje's leading football club. They are in their sixth successive season in the Swedish First Division - known as the Superettan. The club attracts average gates of nearly 2,000 to their picturesque Bårsta ground on the outskirts of the town.

All this is a far cry from Assyriska's humble origins back in 1971, when they began as a club playing local league football. In 1975, Assyriska made the step up from local football - the "Korpen" as it is known (literal translation "raven league") - to Division 7 East. It was a baptism of fire as Assyriska finished bottom, with no points and 101 goals conceded.

But Assyriska soon found their feet in Swedish football's national pyramid. In 1979 they gained promotion to Division 6, winning all 14 games. Benjamin "Müller" Bakircioglu grabbed 49 of the team's 62 goals.

The 1980s witnessed a meteoric rise through the regional divisions, culminating in promotion to Division 2 in 1990. In 1992, Assyriska made it into the First Division for the first time.

The mid 1990s saw some yo-yoing between Division 1 and 2 but towards the end of the decade Assyriska cemented their position in Division 1, with young stars Kennedy Bakircioglu and Fredrik Samuelsson earning Sweden Under-18 caps.

The 1999 season saw Assyriska's best season to date, as they finished second in Division 1 and met Örebro in a play-off to qualify for the Swedish Premier Division (Allsvenskan). Assyriska gave their illustrious rivals a real fright, with a 1-1 draw at Bårsta followed by a narrow 2-1 defeat in the second leg at Örebro.

The last two years have been ones of consolidation in the recently formed Superettan, with three different managers at the helm. Rolf Zetterlund was sacked after a poor start in 2000 and replaced by the popular Peter Antoine. However, Antoine quit on health grounds at the end of 2001 and Kent Karlsson stepped into his place.

Now Assyriska is once more on the up and pushing for that elusive step into Sweden's elite division.

Paul Eade

[Z-info: To learn more about Assyriska Soccer (football) team visit http://www.assyria.se.]

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