1 Tammuz 6754              
Volume X

Issue 16

21 June 2004
W h e r e....A s s y r i a n s...G e t...T h e i r...N e w s...&...I n f o r m a t i o n
Fax 1-415-358-4778 zcrew@zindamagazine.com

Iraqi interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, met with Iraqi Christian leaders in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday 12 June. Allawi will lead the new Iraqi interim government once sovereignty is turned over by coalition authorities until elections can be held in early 2005. (AP Photo by Stefan Zaklin)

This Week in Zinda
  The Rhetorics of Emigration & Displacement Wilfred Bet-Alkhas
  It is Up to Us - the Leaders Have Failed! Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr.
  Iraqi Women Celebrate Larger Presence in New Government  
  San Diego Chaldeans Thank God for Bush  

Thanking Mar Meelis for His Letter
Mr. President, Don't Pull Out of Iraq!
A Call for Unity
Taking Back What is Ours
Nothing Like This in the Last 30 Years

Rami Majed (Iraq)
Rev. Awiqam Pithyou (Chicago)
Rev. William Toma, et al (Rome)
Joseph Bet-Shmuel (California)
Emmanuel Binyamin (Chicago)

  AINA Says, Terrorist Attacks on Assyrians Intensify  
  U.S. Promotes Islam in Iraq
The Baghdad Diaries
Joseph Farrah
Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr.
  Diane Pathieu  
  The Legend of Sharrukin: King Sargon II of Assyria Ninos Isaac
Zinda Says
An Editorial

The Rhetorics of Emigration & Displacement

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

Nine days before the transfer of power to an interim government in Iraq and we are inundated with the news of Christians leaving the homeland. The U.S. and the rest of the world are doing nothing. In fact the officials in Iraq are careful not to legitimize the Assyrians and Christians of Iraq for the fear of turning this situation into a “Muslims versus Christians” crusade. This morning’s CPA briefing in Baghdad exemplified the neutral rhetoric sustained by U.S. officials in Iraq and Washington.

At the Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing conducted this morning in Baghdad the CPA Senior Advisor, Mr. Dan Senor, and Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Military Operation responded to a few journalists who addressed them in both English and Arabic.

The final question of the day came in response to the recent news of the Christian Iraqis fleeing the country just days before the transfer of power in Iraq. The question was addressed in Arabic: "Many of the Assyrians and other minorities are leaving the country or are quite worried, and one of the reasons..." At this time an interpreter interrupted the journalist: "Microphone, please! Microphone please!" It appeared that the journalist's question was not heard. The interpreter from his box in the back of the room again called for microphone: "Mike, mike, mike, mike!" Mr. Senor quietly responded: " Yeah."

The journalist raised his voice a little more and asked his question again: "Oh, sorry. Many of the Assyrians and other minorities are leaving the country, and one of the concerns is what role they'll have in the future; in particular, the Transitional Administrative Law and the fact that it's not mentioned in the U.N. resolution. There's some concern as to whether it will go forward, and -- some of the items in the law itself. But can you like give a -- some kind of word of assurance to the minorities."

Mr. Senor responded: " Sure!"

The journalist did not hesitate: "That they'll have a part in the future, as well that the transitional law will in some way be ...?"

Mr Senor interrupted the journalist: " Sure. The Transitional Administrative Law, which is effectively Iraq's interim constitution, is a document similar to other constitutions, interim constitutions, which typically aren't mentioned in U.N. Security Council resolutions. The principles most central, however, in that document are specifically referenced in the U.N. Security Council resolution and supported. In fact, the preamble talks about principles like minority rights, federalism, Iraq's democratic path forward. And so a number of those issues are of importance to the communities you referenced and others. And the Transitional Administrative Law, as you know, has very strong protections for all Iraqis, regardless of religion, gender, regional origin. And the Iraqi prime minister, Iyad Allawi, has made a very strong statement about his government's support for the interim constitution and to the extent that that document should continue to serve as a legal guide for their activities going forward and constitutional parameters for their government going forward during this interim period. He feels quite strongly about that. Finally, I would say that the interim government is probably the most representative government and inclusive government not only in Iraq history but probably in this entire region, and that also is a positive sign. So I think any minority community should feel that their rights are protected in Iraq, in the new Iraq, in the free Iraq, that the rights outlined in the Transitional Administrative Law will be protected and enforced, and there really isn't cause for concern. It's something I think the interim government feels strongly about. Thanks, everybody."

The CPA advisor carefully presented his case without ever mentioning the "Assyrians" or "Christians", and just briefly referred to them as the "minority community".

The Chaldean Church in Baghdad explains that these statements of aggression against Christians are exaggerated and there seems to be no problem between the Moslems and the Christians in Iraq. Monsignor Jacques Ishaq, the Archbishop Emeritus of Arbil and Patriarchal Vicar General for Cultural Affairs, explained to AsiaNews on 16 June 16 that "There is absolutely no hatred between Christians and Muslims, between Iraqi citizens.  But, then again, in day-to-day life, there are no divisions between Iraqis." It is highly unlikely that Bishop Ishaq has visited the families of the kidnapped Chaldean boys in Baghdad or the liquor store owners in Basra.

If the news of the Christians fleeing Iraq is even partially true, then it behooves us to learn the motives behind our people’s decision to leave their homes for Syria and Jordan, as some reports indicate. Several reasons swiftly come to mind:

1. Assyrians are afraid that a complete chaos will ensue on June 30 and there will be ethnic aggression among the Moslem groups, with terrible consequences for the Christians.
2. The Muslim extremists will begin directly attacking Christians in Iraq to drive them out of the “Islamic lands”.
3. Lack of a coherent and effective Assyrian leadership unable to mitigate the fears of the Christian masses.
4. This is fabricated information publicized by likes of Rev. Kenneth Joseph to galvanize the western churches, or the Kurdish groups that wish for the Assyrian villages to be emptied out prior to their declaration of statehood.

Most likely the impending reasons behind the possible flight of the Christians now or in the future may be a combination of all these factors. Interestingly, the complicated circumstances surrounding this issue were somehow reduced to an almost comic reverie when the Church of the East bishop, Mar Meelis Zaia, was accused of inviting Assyrians to Aussieland.

As leaders, activists, planners, and simply Assyrians we have three important duties to accomplish:

1. To stop the current and future emigration of Assyrians from Iraq and encouraging the return of a million or more Christians who left their homeland since the beginning of the Baathist rule.
2. To prevent any extremist criminal act that may result in the massacre of the Christians.
3. To strengthen the Assyrian leadership’s control over the Assyrian population in that region.

To accomplish these three tasks we must first remember that our true enemy is that which the U.S. government has been seeking since September 11, 2001, namely the Al-Qaeda. It is Osama Bin Laden’s network in the Middle East, that is creating an environment where non-Muslims are coerced to leave their villages and livelihoods. We must therefore work with the western powers and the moderate forces among the Sunnis, Shiias, and the Kurds to help eliminate this common enemy.

In the meantime, unlike our Kurdish and Shiias neighbors we ought to focus on nation-building within the territorial constraints of the country of Iraq. A weakened or divided Iraq creates a vacuum, and subjects us to possible violence from sources outside of the borders of Iraq. A strong Iraq, on the other hand, will shield the Assyrians against the Islamic extremism that awaits the fall of Mesopotamia.

As we defend the borders of Iraq and fight the common enemy we should not eliminate the possibility of a complete breakdown of the Iraqi society. By creating the necessary institutions that help us gain greater recognition in Iraq and among the nations of the world as the peacemakers and the progressive elements of change in that region, we bring ourselves closer to the formulation of a robust nation of producers. At this juncture, should we be threatened with an impending menace to our national rights and political legitimacy, we can rightfully demand our rights for territorial integrity as settled and granted in several historic and legal documents. “Assyria” can once and for all leave our fantasies and gradually appear on the pages of our planning documents in Chicago and Mosul. The initial step to realize this is the concentration of our population within our historic homeland, hence assisting our people in Iraq through these difficult days of transition to democracy and free market economy is our most important national mandate.

Reliable sources to Zinda Magazine reported last week that as many as several buses each week transport Assyrians to Syria. These same reports also explain that an overwhelmingly majority of these travelers are temporarily crossign the borders in advance of the possible breakdown of security infrastructure after June 30th. The Assyrian Democratic Movement has not released any statements on this matter at press time. It is likely that the news of Christians’ exodus from Iraq may have been fabricated to denigrate the Ministerial position currently held by Ms. Pascal Ishoo Warda, an Assyrian, in the new Iraqi government.

In the coming days we should expect more build up on the subject of the Christians fleeing Iraq (see the AINA report and Joseph Farrah’s commentary in this week’s issue). The beheading of the American worker, Paul Johnson, in Saudi Arabia also reminds us of the barbaric acts our common enemy is capable of executing in those countries.

We are often reminded that for those of us living in the West commenting on the importance of preventing emigration from the Moslem countries is in fact a painless endeavor. Yet would we have not done the same if the same opportunity was offered to us? Indeed most of us live on this side of the Mediterranean Sea because of our decision to pursue a life of materialistic comfort, leaving behind the threats of Islamic insurgencies against our families. After all, hardly any Christian who has lived as an adult in the Middle East would agree with President Bush that Islam is purely a religion of peace that respects the full rights of other religions.

Recently a friend questioned me as such: “What if it is your younger sister begging you to assist her to leave those hostage-taking, blood-thirsty executioners?” At that moment I understood that it was not our choice to prevent individuals from seeking the same opportunities in the west as we did in the past. But it is our duty to improve the conditions for the heroes who choose to stay behind to protect our rights, our identity, and our future.

The Lighthouse
Feature Article(s)


It is Up to Us - the Leaders Have Failed!

Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr.

I sat in the Inauguration Ceremony room, first enduring a long winded, completely unacceptable and out of place sermon and long winded prayer by a moslem mullah who seemed to be wearing tennis shoes.

Not much I could do in protest - but thank God I can still cough! I coughed and coughed and coughed as long as the sermon and prayer went on and at least a sizeable number of the crowd I hope could not hear.

I looked around the room - surely Mar Gewargis would be there and Mar Addai and the others . . .but it was not to be! Not one was there!

Shortly before I went up to Rabi Yako and asked how things were! The regular `everything is ok!` didn’t seem to have the regular conviction.

Then I waited through the long winded speeches of Mr. Brahimi and the President. Listening clearly to be able to hear when they mentioned the Assyrians - after all the indigenous people of Iraq - the Original people of Iraq. They would have prime mention in each speech. I waited and waited and waited . . . the speeches were over!

Nobody had even mentioned the word `Assyrian` - the had said `Kurds`, `others`, but not even a mention of the word Assyrian!

What was going on?

Now, for what we had been waiting for!

There would of course be one among the five officials, who would be an Assyrian. Deputy President? Deputy Prime Minister? I wonder which one?

I waited and waited and waited . . . They were finished and none!

There must be some mistake! Nothing!

Next they began to name the various ministers. I cheered up! Well, then there must be a couple ministries - three or four? Maybe the Minister of Transportation again, Trade etc.

I waited and waited and waited and waited and suddenly there she was! It was Pascale! She was a Minister! And then it was all over.

Out of 32 Ministries just one! Well, pretty bad, but it must be a good one then. `What is the Ministry` I asked . . .

`Ministry of Emigration` . .

I stood still in my tracks?

`Ministry of Emigration`

After the long nightmare of Saddam doing all he could to have Assyrians emigrate, we would not accept the `Ministry of Emigration` even if it was offered to us, right?

`Oh my God` I said to myself . . it was true!

It could not have been worse! Even no Ministry would be better than that! The ultimate in ridicule!

Then I began to speak to the Assyrians!

`Shame!` was all they could say!

`We have been betrayed` said another!

`It is over!` another commented

`The message to us? Leave and we will help you!`

I sat there in the hall in Baghdad on a hot, dusty afternoon in what could only be termed a nightmare. Not once in any speech did any say `thank you` to the Americans for liberating their country, getting rid of Saddam and embarking on a reconstruction program the likes of which have not been seen in a generation.

Not one word of the Assyrians, the original people o Iraq - not even a mention!

And the final humiliation - the Ministry of Emigration!

Total and complete failure! There may be excuses, explanations, but to every Assyrian living in Iraq the message was clear - our leaders have totally and completely failed. We are alone.

What will we do? Abandon them? Send a little money to ease the conscience? There is just under a month left to make a difference.

The nightmare is not next year, next month, but now.

Total and complete failure!

Will the Assyrians all over the world finally wake up? The enemy is not outside - the enemy is within! Will this total and complete failure even under the Americans finally cause them to open their eyes?

One of the Assyrian leaders said it `the only hope is for the Americans. We cannot do anything here, but they can in Washington`.

I just spent nearly one month in Washington and met with nearly all the Senators on the Armed Service Committee, the Foreign Relations committee, Secretary Rumsfeld, Armitage, and in Baghdad with Mr. Brahimi, and each of the new Government Ministers except for one.

To each carefully explaining the case of the Assyrians. Is there hope? Yes there is! In spite of the failure not one American or Iraqi government official disagreed on the idea of an area for the Assyrians - not one! The usual reaction?

`If the Kurds can have one why not the Assyrians - why have you not said anything before?`

So the truth is out! Not only have our leaders in Iraq failed us, but those in the US too! Now what do we do? In this issue I have carefully noted the fax numbers, addresses and other information for the key people in the US Government.

Please take a moment after your anger has subsided and write a nice letter demanding an Assyrian Regional Government in Iraq and fax it to them. And then take a moment and pray that God will, in the last remaining days before June 30th do a miracle!

`If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face than will I hear from heaven and will give them the land` II Chronicles 7:14

It is up to us!

[Zinda: Act Now! Click here to view the U.S. and U.N. officials' emails, telephone and facsimile numbers presented at the end of Rev. Joseph's previous article for Zinda magazine. For more of Rev. Joseph's reports for Zinda Magazine, directly from Baghdad, see this week's Literatus section.]

Good Morning Assyria
News from Homeland

Iraqi Women Celebrate Larger Presence in New Government

Courtesy of AFP
15 June 2004

(ZNDA: Baghdad) Many Iraqi women are delighted to have six female ministers in the country's new caretaker government but they acknowledge that the road to true freedom for women remains long and hard.

The issue of women's rights divided the now defunct Governing Council, which drew up the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) under the watchful eye of the US-led coalition. But after much debate women, who make up 60 percent of Iraq's population, secured an historic victory for their cause.

The temporary constitution, which is due to rule Iraq until the end of 2005 and is considered the most liberal in the Middle East, guarantees women 25 percent representation in a future assembly.

Female activists also had to convince lawmakers to reject a bid to turn the clock back on their rights by scrapping an established family law.

Successful lobbying by the heads of 17 Iraqi women's organisations earlier this year ensured the failure of a proposal to scrap Iraq's 1959 family affairs code and place it under Muslim religious jurisdiction.

But the absence of a reference to the interim constitution in a United Nations Resolution on Iraq that was passed last week disappointed some female figures.

Nancy Kana, editor-in-chief of Nahrenta, an Assyrian magazine, said that having six female ministers "is a true chance for women," noting that there were only three women on the US-picked Governing Council, which was dissolved on June 1.

She saw the country's terrible security situation, however, as one of the main obstacles for women as they struggle to gain more influence and recognition.

"It is too dangerous to drive in Baghdad or to take a taxi on your own. Me, I have a driver, but how do other women manage to move around?" Kana asked.

"One day there will be a female prime minister or president but I am not sure it will happen during my life time," she added.

At the Union of Assyrian Women in Baghdad headed by the minister of displaced people and migrants, Pascal Ishoo Warda, "we are learning the meaning of democracy," said Ban Jamil Yussef Katto, 32.

Like most single women in Iraq, she still lives with her parents.

Warda is trying to persuade her family to allow her to marry the man she loves.

"It is hard, we live in the Middle East," she said with a sigh. "But I am prepared to fight for that."

News Digest
General News & Information

San Diego Chaldeans Thank God for Bush

Courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune
20 June 2004
By Alex Roth

(ZNDA: San Diego) Jalal Elia, an Iraqi expatriate who lives in El Cajon, was trying to explain why the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photos might be fake.

Something about the pictures looks staged, he said. Are those really U.S. soldiers humiliating naked Iraqi inmates? Are those really Iraqi inmates with hoods over their heads? He, for one, needed more convincing before he would condemn the conduct of the U.S. military.

"I don't think those pictures were taken in Iraq," the liquor-store owner said while standing in his tie and blue blazer outside the Crystal Ballroom, an El Cajon club for Chaldeans.

Many Americans are appalled by the now-infamous pictures of U.S. soldiers tormenting Iraqi prisoners. But the reaction to the photos – and, for that matter, to everything else related to the Iraq war – has been more complicated among the Chaldeans, an Iraqi group that has a larger presence in San Diego than anywhere else in the United States except Detroit.

No other group in this area was more vocal in supporting the U.S.-led invasion than the Chaldeans, whose estimated population of 25,000 makes them by far the largest group of Iraqis in San Diego County. And because Chaldeans are a long-persecuted Christian minority in Iraq, few other groups are more emotionally invested in the success of the U.S. military venture there.

As a result, even as national polls show declining support for the invasion and as some analysts worry about a Vietnam-style quagmire, many Chaldeans remain distinctly positive about the decision to go to war – and extremely reluctant to criticize the U.S. military.

Many are convinced that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Some argue, quite passionately, that the Al-Jazeera television station should be banned in the United States because of what they perceive as anti-American bias.

As for the Abu Ghraib abuse pictures, perhaps they were concocted on a computer to embarrass President Bush, one man theorized. Perhaps, another suggested, the U.S. military faked the pictures as a brilliant method of scaring Iraqi insurgents into behaving themselves.

"I myself, I think it was all phony, all fabricated by our troops to discourage the thugs from uprising," said Farouk Gewarges, a Chaldean who owns an insurance business in El Cajon.

In some respects, the Chaldean community in San Diego has come to resemble the Cuban community in Miami. Each group's hatred of a foreign dictator exerts a unifying communal force – and produces a particularly fervent brand of American patriotism.

At a Chaldean social club in El Cajon last week, as men ate hummus, played cards and chain-smoked despite the presence of a large No Smoking sign, Wisam Hamika said Iraq was "1,000 percent better off" now than under Hussein.

"George Bush is God's gift to the Iraqi people," said Hamika, 44, who manages the Chaldean-Assyrian Social Club. "I really believe that without George Bush, only God could have removed Saddam Hussein."

Asked recently whether he was troubled that the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks failed to uncover a link between Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist plot, Raymond Barno, a Chaldean activist who lives in El Cajon, said no, "because at least we stopped the murder of thousands of people and mass graves."

Hamika's club, as well as the Crystal Ballroom several blocks away, is more crowded than ever these days, a testament to the mushrooming Chaldean population in San Diego County, particularly the El Cajon area. Their population dwarfs the number of Muslim Iraqis in San Diego, of whom there are only a few thousand.
Many Chaldeans move here from Detroit, where their population exceeds 100,000, in search of a climate more like home. Others come from Iraq via Mexico, seeking political asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border at Tijuana.

Many of the newcomers had successful businesses in Detroit or in Iraq and have had similar success in San Diego. By some estimates, Chaldeans own more than 600 liquor stores and convenience stories in San Diego County.

As the environment in Iraq has grown more dangerous in recent months, San Diego's Chaldean population has become increasingly concerned about relatives in the war zone, where Chaldeans find themselves targeted by pro-Hussein insurgents who see them as U.S. sympathizers.

Warda Yonan of El Cajon, who works as a Sycuan casino cashier, said her five siblings in Iraq are afraid to go outside at night. Her aunt, who lives near Mosul, keeps guns in her living room, bedroom and kitchen. The aunt's 12-year-old daughter has been learning to fire the weapons.

"Look at kids over here – they are playing at PlayStation," Yonan said. "But Iraqi kids, they learn how to use a gun."

To the extent that Chaldeans in San Diego are critical of the Bush administration, it concerns what they see as Bush's failure to come up with a better plan for stability after getting rid of Hussein.

Several criticized the administration for disbanding the Iraqi army. They said the decision left a security void and created disenchantment among thousands of Iraqi soldiers who weren't necessarily loyal to Hussein, but who suddenly found themselves out of work.

The view that the administration didn't properly prepare for a post-Hussein Iraq is shared by many Muslim Iraqis in San Diego. Imam Mohammad Alqazwini, a Shiite religious leader who lives in Mira Mesa, has been back to Iraq twice since Hussein's removal. He said he was stunned by the lack of security, especially at the border.

He entered the country from Syria, he said, and drove all the way to the central Iraqi city of Karbala without ever being scrutinized by U.S. forces.

"I didn't see any checkpoints," he said.

Although Alqazwini initially supported the invasion – Shiites also were persecuted by Hussein – he said he's beginning to wonder whether the Bush administration has a coherent strategy for making the country peaceful and democratic.

At least a few Chaldeans have much the same concerns. Yonan said her early enthusiasm for the war waned after her sister was blinded and her sister's two children killed by a U.S. bomb near Mosul.

Still, she firmly believes that if the insurgents would stop setting off bombs and shooting people, "The United States is going to fix things 100 percent."

Similar sentiments were voiced at the Chaldean-Assyrian club, an all-male environment where the menu includes shish kebab and the entertainment of choice is a card game akin to gin rummy.
At 9 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, a group of six men sat near the bar, eating, smoking, drinking beer and talking politics. They voiced support for Bush and his decision to invade Iraq.

Asked if they were upset that no weapons of mass destruction were found, several said that getting rid of Hussein was all the justification Bush needed. Mark Namou, who owns a liquor store, called Operation Iraqi Freedom "the best war this country ever fought."

Like the others, Hamika, the club manager, thinks Hussein had such weapons but hid them.

"Iraq is a country the size of California or Texas," he said. "Did they look everywhere? Did they look in the river?"

The six agreed that the photos taken at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were somewhat disturbing. Still, they said, whatever abuses the U.S. military inflicted on Iraqi prisoners can't compare with the tortures and executions inflicted by Hussein. What's more, the men declared flatly, any Iraqi prisoners who were humiliated or roughed up by U.S. soldiers probably did something to deserve it.

They blamed some of the problems in the region on the Al-Jazeera station, which they said fosters hatred and spreads false rumors. Some want the Qatar-based satellite channel banned in the United States.

Asked whether such a move would be inconsistent with the principles of democracy, Namou said, "Democracy says they can lie? That's not democracy, that's lying."

"Democracy has to be the right perspective, not the wrong perspective," added Fareed Allosh, a liquor-store owner.

At a nearby table, 71-year-old retired Kurdish interpreter Tinue Shad said he wasn't particularly bothered by the Abu Ghraib pictures because he is sure the snapshots are phony. Like Chaldeans, Kurds also were persecuted in Hussein's Iraq.

Shad, who said he was tortured by Iraqi police in the early 1960s, theorized that somebody created the photos to "defame" Bush and undermine the military effort. He said he finds it hard to imagine that U.S. soldiers ever would engage in such unseemly behavior.

U.S. soldiers are brave and honest, he said, with a mission to "liberate persons, not capture people and abuse them."

Rapping his knuckles on the table for emphasis, he declared in a thick accent, "I don't believe that American soldiers are so idiot as to do this."

Europe Sizzles This Summer with Two Assyrian Conventions
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Surfs Up!
Letters to the Editor

Thanking Mar Meelis for His Letter

Rami Majed

I want to thank Bishop Mar Meelis of Australia for his honesty in explaining things clearly to many of us in Iraq. In the bishop's message that was loud and clear to all of us, that got aired by the radio, we did understand clearly the truth better than the empty promises that was made to all of us by many before. I see in Mr. Wilson's message personal hatred toward one of our best bishops. Let's not blame the bishop. Let's blame lack of understanding by some people like Mr. Wilson.

Mr. President, Don't Pull Out of Iraq!

Rev. Awiqam Pithyou
Saint Odisho Church

To President George W. Bush on 14 June 2004:

Dear Mr. President, I wrote you a letter, copy enclosed, on 16 December, 2002, to express to you on behalf of myself and the thousands of Assyrians affiliated with our Ancient Church of the East in the United States, in Iraq, and elsewhere in the world, our appreciation for what you had done to recognize the Assyrian Democratic Movement as one of the constituent members of the opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraq was not yet liberated at that time.

Once again, Mr. President, allow me to express my deep gratitude and full support, on behalf of our congregation here in Chicago and on behalf of all the Assyrians affiliated with the Ancient Church of the East in the U.S., in Iraq, and elsewhere in the world, for your decision to liberate Iraq from the tyrannical and inhuman regime of Saddam Hussein. We firmly believe that when history is finally written about this period, when the fog of war has settled, your decisions and actions in Iraq will be recognized as a turning point in history just like the battle of Tours in France in 732 AD turned out to be a turning point in reversing the advance of Moorish Islamic forces into Western Europe. Today dark, radical and reactionary Islamic forces are once again hard at work to wipe out any vestiges of Christianity or secularism from the Middle East and South Asia in what they view, in their twisted and distorted vision, as a war of Islam against what they call "crusaders" and "infidels". The only hope that history will not repeat itself and that radical and fundamentalist Islamic forces will not prevail, Mr. President, is what the U.S. is doing in Iraq under your leadership - turning the country into a beacon of light for the whole area by establishing a free, independent and democratic state where human, religious, political and ethnic rights of individuals and groups are enshrined in a permanent constitution and where the minority is not oppressed by the majority. But the only guarantee that the provisions of the constitution become the law of the land, abided by and respected by all, is if the United States maintains a long term military presence in Iraq because time and again the military regimes of the Middle East have proved that, to them, constitutions are not worth the ink and paper they are written on. In fact, the first communiqué of every coup has been to declare that the constitution is abolished and marshal law imposed.

With the June 30 deadline for turning over sovereignty to an Iraqi government rapidly approaching, we, Assyrian Christians, are inescapably reminded, with apprehension, of another turn over of independence to an Iraqi government by the British 72 years ago, in 1932, despite the League of Nations' doubts and expressed concerns about the lack of guarantees for the protection of minorities. In less than a year that was followed by the massacre of the Assyrians and by looting and raping of women by the Iraqi army in the Assyrian towns and villages of northern Iraq. Even now Assyrians and others are being killed in Iraq for no other reason than their cooperating with or working for the coalition forces. Just recently several Assyrian women were killed at the entrance to the American Administration headquarters in Baghdad, on their way to work to support their families.

Here, in our beloved America, we also observe some inequities that we hope will be addressed by your administration. It is a recognized fact that the fastest growing religion - through immigration, reproduction or religious conversion - is Islam. In every city there is a mosque, probably built and financed by the Saudi government, and yet, ironically, Christians are not allowed to worship as a group even in their own homes in Saudi Arabia.

Lance Cpl. Chris Hankins, 19, of Kansas City, Mo., prays at a makeshift memorial for three U.S. Marines killed in a gun battle with insurgents in Fallujah. Only moments before, Hankins was baptized on a site nearby where two Marines were killed in a friendly fire mortar incident. Photo by Rick Loomis of LA Times.

We also feel that Moslem immigrants from the Arab world and Pakistan are flooding U.S. cities not because they are persecuted or discriminated against but for economic reasons while Assyrians and other Christians from the Middle East are often stranded, with school-age children, for years in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece awaiting visas to immigrate to the U.S., Canada, Australia or other Christian countries because of discrimination and intolerance. We hope something will be done by the administration to address this issue.

Therefore, Mr. President, we pray and hope that the U.S., having liberated Iraq, will not pull out its forces from the country, under the ongoing and incessant attacks and negative reporting from a liberal media, until strong democratic institutions have been established and enough safeguards have been put in place for the protection of the minorities, and in particular Assyrian Christians, from oppression and religious sectarianism.

We, the Assyrians, were there in Mesopotamia, now called Iraq, for thousands of years B.C., and history is a witness to the fact that we had build empires and civilizations in that part of the world long before Islam, as a religion or a political entity, appeared on the face of the earth. We are the indigenous people of Mesopotamia. Our people should not be driven out of their ancestral homeland by radical Islamic movements, by religious intolerance or by persecution. We have survived all those forces for millennia by the blood of our martyrs. Now that we are facing a new challenge, we hope that the United States and Britain will not sit as neutral spectators should the situation in Iraq deteriorate and our people are victimized again. For more than a decade, the United States and Britain have protected the Kurds and the Shi'ites from the savagery and tyranny of Saddam Hussein's regime through the no-fly-zones in the north and south of Iraq. We hope that the same protection will be extended to all the minorities when sovereignty is finally turned over to the Iraqi government. That way, we hope, our Christian Assyrian people will be able to live in peace, like all the other ethnic and religious groups, in a sovereign and independent Iraq redeemed as a member of the civilized world.

God bless you, Mr. President, and God bless America.

[Zinda: Rev. Pithyou's letter was copied to the Mr. Colin L. Powell, U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, and Zinda Magazine.]

A Call for Unity

Rev. Patros Patros
Rev. William Toma
Rev. David Royel
Rev. Semaan Daood
Rev. Paul (Korosh) Benjamin

As we look upon the often heated-discussions that have taken place within the last year centering around the future of the Assyrians in Iraq, it seems most opportune at this point to evaluate our various, and often conflicting, actions and views. The fact that the last provisory constitution for Iraq is being superceded by a more stable and long-lasting one, our nation must rise up from its slumber and endeavor at all costs to unite among itself. It is an undeniable fact that only the putting-aside of our divergent personal views and conflicting stances is there hope of survival and better days for the Assyrians in the free, democratic Iraq of tomorrow.

It is a well-known fact that our political parties and their leaders have been strongly opposing one another in the past year, especially with regard to the compound-name issue and other discussions of vital importance for the Assyrians in Iraq. However, now it is high time to leave all of these opposing views aside for the sake of uniting in one common end – the full recognition of the Assyrian nation in the Iraqi constitution on an equal footing with other national and ethnic groups in the country.

The most practical way of effecting this unity is for our political parties to come together in all sincerity and for the sake of the future of our nation. This may be brought about by the formation of a united political front comprised of all Assyrian political groups and organizations worldwide, and also representatives of the various Assyrian Churches. These groups should come together and labor side-by-side as brothers endeavoring for the same cause. Let us forget the disputes and bickering of the past in the spirit of Christian charity and labor together as brothers devoted to the betterment of the Assyrian nation. This is our last chance, before the new constitution sets in, to unite and plan for the future of a more united Assyrian nation. It is only in unity that our Assyrian nation may hope in its survival and the passing on of its rich heritage and history to future generations.

Time to Get Back What is Ours

Joseph Bet-Shmuel

Defending the Assyrian food festival is not an evil guilt, but hating and degrading our people positively is an evil thought.

Mr.Baba’s response to my letter showed his deep hatred and disgust towards the Assyrian people and their cause. Freedom of speech does not give the right to insult others. Statements that are not based on any historical facts cannot and should not be referenced. Personal feelings should not substitute historical events.

I would very much like to request from Mr. Alkhas and Dinkha to study last 22 years (1896-1918) of the Christian genocide by Ottomans. They will then understand the source of choosing August 7th as Martyr's day.

Our parents chose August 7th as Martyr's day for historical reasons. In the end of World War l, we (Assyrians) as allies were compensated two states from the divided Ottoman Empire. The conference in Switzerland decided that Assyrian settlement in the compensated states would be under supervision of England. Autonomy in territory should have been established by 1934, but just a year before that in 1933, August 7th, Assyrian dream for self-rule was destroyed by Semel Massacre. During the Christian Genocide by Ottoman, there were more Martyrs, but on August 7, hope of a self ruling nation died.

Universal recognition of our nation is the result of political hard work of organizations such as (A.D.O., A.U.A., B.D.P. and A.D.M.) and Martyrs (Hormoz, Margaret,Yousip,Youkhana and other thousands) fighting in the mountains and plains with freedom fighters such as (ZOWAA), not with a mayor in a small French town, or an assemblyman miles away from our homeland. Freedom is achieved with blood, not by a gift from a councilman in a town in California.
The way we honor our Martyrs is derived from our culture. We gather and we pray for them. Others want to honor their Martyrs by demonstration, is their choice.

Let me tell you once again, why am I proud of my church (Church of the East): Just read the speech given by His Grace Mar Bawai Soro in San Jose on May 2nd. This speech is in May 17th issue of Zinda Magazine.

Jesus taught us that man forgives his brother's sin not only once but seventy times a day. If we are not capable to recognize the thirty years service by our Bishop, and punish him for a mistake, then we can not call ourselves Christian. Our faith is full of love and forgiveness.

Mr. Baba compared Assyrians with Armenians: After 1919 Armenian land was in Communist Russian territory, therefore all western countries supported and assisted Armenians financially and politically against Russia. Cold War also helped them immensely. At the same time our land was in hands of British interest. Cultural destruction and ethnic cleansing was their motive. We were displaced from our land. We were given new identities i.e. Christian Arab, Kurdish, Turkish and Iranian.

Lets forget all our differences, and work together. By the end of the year Iraqi people will elect a new parliament. We need 300,000 to 500,000 votes to be able to have up to 15 representatives.

Lets all stand behind Zowaa to achieve our rights. We will have time to resolve our differences later.

Nothing Like This in the Last 30 Years

Emmanuel Binyamin

I would like to congratulate you on a job well done. I enjoy your magazine very much and share it with others that don’t have access to it.

I’m writing to you regarding the June 7th issue. I agree with you 100% about Zinda’s Person of the Year. God bless him (Yonadam Kanna).

I was very upset and saddened to read the article Dr. George Habash. I’m not sure if I should call him Doctor to begin with. I know of only one George Habash and he was the right hand for Mishail Afflaq the originator of the Baath Party.

Here you have picked Zinda’s Person of the year, and here in the same magazine you presented this untrue and disgusting article by Mr. Habash. It’s very easy for us in Diaspora to sit at our desk at work or home and talk trash about people living in hostile environment. I wish Mr. Habash was in Iraq and presented us like he was claiming Mr. Kanna should have done. Very east for us to say from here (US) or (UK).

I really wish you would have not published Mr. Habash’s article on the same date as your picked for Person of the Year or even at all because all he did was say negative things about Mr. Kanna who is living in fire if you ask me. And I really think the Assyrian community and people get an apology from Mr. Habash.

I by no mean am a member of ADM, just a supporter for the great job they are doing for our nation. I’ve been living in US (Chicago) for 30 years now, and been around all the organizations here but haven’t seen anyone that works as hard and dictate their time and lives for our people and goal like ADM (Zowaa).

Again, I really appreciate the excellent job you’re doing with Zinda Magazine. Keep up the good work, and may God bless you!

Surfer's Corner
Community Events

AINA Says, Terrorist Attacks on Assyrians Intensify

Assyrian International News Agency (AINA)
20 June 2004

Copyright (C) 2004, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved.

On the morning of June 7th a civilian sedan containing four masked men drove into the Christian Assyrian Quarters (Hay Al-Athuryeen) of the Dora district of Baghdad, where the masked men opened fire on Assyrians on their way to work. Four locals were killed and several others seriously wounded. The three men and one woman who were murdered were identified by the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) as Isho Nissan Markus, Youkhana, Duraid Sabri Hanna, Hisham Umar, and Ramziya Enwiya (female). On the same day and in the same district, at approximately 5 P.M. another drive by shooting occurred, targeting Assyrians returning from work, mostly with the Coalition Provisional Authority. Three women, Alice Aramayis, Ayda Petros Bakus and Muna Jalal Karim, were shot and killed, along with their driver.

This incident is the latest in a series of crimes and acts of terror and intimidation against the Christian Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) of Iraq since the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. On March 22nd an elderly Assyrian couple, Ameejon and Jewded Barama, was brutally murdered in the district of Dora; the husband's throat was slashed in the same manner as Nicholas Berg, and the wife was repeatedly struck on the head with a blunt instrument. In the southern city of Basra, on December 24th, 2003 Bashir Toma Elias was killed by a single gun shot to the head, as he prepared to head home for Christmas celebration with his wife and five children. On November 18, 2003 Mr. Sargon Nano Murado, the ADM representative in Basra was assassinated. In North Iraq, the Assyrian mayor of the Telkepeh district, Wathah Gorgis, survived an assassination attempt on January 24, 2004. On October 7th, 2003 Mr. Safa Sabah Khoshi, owner of a liquor store in Mosul, was shot and killed in his store, and his brother, Meyaser Karim Khoshi, was severely injured in the attack.

Kirkuk Assyrian School Reunion

July 2, 2004 at 6:30 pm

5th Reunion Dinner/Dance Party
Assyrian American Civic Club
2618 N. Golden Sate Blvd.
Turlock, CA 95381

Click here for more info

For the Assyrians, liberation has not brought the level of security they had hoped for. Instead, it shifted the politically motivated losses caused by the Saddam Regime to the more dangerous religiously motivated crimes. Of special concern to Assyrians and their community leaders is the nature of these attacks, the overwhelming majority of which have been religiously motivated. Often these attacks are accompanied by notes demanding that the Christian Assyrians follow the rules Islam or face the consequences. This has created an atmosphere of fear in the Assyrian community, not so different, ironically, from the fear they felt under Saddam's regime, though the nature of it is different. Saddam Hussein ruthlessly suppressed any expression of national or ethnic identity, and by and large did not concern himself with religious issues. With the removal of Saddam, Assyrians -- whose population in Iraq out-numbers the national individual populations of Kuwait, Qatar, Cyprus, and UAE -- have finally succeeded in asserting their unique ethnic and cultural identity, and have been active participants in the political process, yet, in an ironic flip-flop, now they find their religious institution under attack by Islamists.

The Reverend Ken Joseph, an Assyrian Evangelist currently based in Baghdad, reports that applications for baptismal records have soared in recent weeks. He quotes an Assyrian deacon saying, "We have been flooded with parishioners desperate to leave the country and as they cannot get an exit permit without a Baptismal Certificate from the Church we have been swamped with requests." The Assyrians did not expect the liberation of Iraq to precipitate an exodus from their ancestral lands, yet this is the effect to date of the liberation of Iraq combined with unchecked Islamic aggression.

Assyrians are the only indigenous group of Iraq; they are also Christians, are ethnically distinct, and their language is neo-Syriac (modern Aramaic). As such, they see themselves as the litmus test of any democracy that is established in Iraq, which must guarantee, above and beyond reasonable expectations, their ethnic, religious and cultural rights. This has not happened to date, as the Transitional Administrative Law (English, Arabic), while making some historic concessions with regard to Assyrians, also declared Islam as the official religion of the Iraqi State. An Assyrian in Iraq, Robert, said, "We love the Americans! We are so grateful for them removing Saddam and giving us back our freedom. We do not want their effort to be a failure if the dictatorship of Saddam is replaced by the dictatorship of Islam."

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Editor's Choice

U.S. Promotes Islam in Iraq

Joseph Farrah

President Bush says he wants to free Iraq, to liberate it from the oppression of totalitarianism, to create a new model for liberty in the Middle East.

But Christians are fleeing while they can because the new constitution makes Iraq an officially Islamic republic.

When the significant Christian community in Iraq failed to get even one seat on the executive council of the provisional government, the exodus began.

Christians also took as a cue the fact that they got only one ministry post in the new government – the Ministry of Emigration. Was that a hint? Apparently Christians in Iraq think so.

The churches are filled with Iraqis filling out baptismal forms required for the leaving the country.

One deacon told Insight:

On a recent night, the church had to spend more time on filling out baptismal forms needed for leaving the country than they did on the service. We have been flooded with parishioners desperate to leave the country, and as they cannot get an exit permit without a baptismal certificate from the church, we have been swamped with requests. ... In recent days, nearly 400 families, as far as we can tell, have filled out baptismal forms to leave the country. Our community is being decimated.

According to figures from the Saddam Hussein regime, there are about 2.5 million Assyrian Christians in Iraq, representing about 10 percent of the total population of the country.

There would be many more had the Assyrians not been systematically slaughtered in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. It is estimated that two-thirds of the population was wiped out in the early part of the 20th century. The Assyrians are not eager to see that kind of persecution again under Islamic rule.

"We thought the Americans were going to bring us freedom and democracy," one Christian told Insight. "Instead, they are promoting Islam. We do not understand it. ... We love the Americans! We are so grateful for them removing Saddam and giving us back our freedom. We do not want their effort to be a failure if the dictatorship of Saddam is replaced by the dictatorship of Islam."

He continued: "The American-funded TV station, Al Iraqia, broadcasts Muslim programs four times every day and for two hours each Friday, but nothing from the other religions. The recent inauguration of the new government was opened by a Muslim mullah reciting a long passage and a prayer from the Quran, but none of our priests were invited. Why do they do this? Why do the Americans promote Muslims? They need to promote equality and democracy and freedom, not Muslim dictatorship."

Already Iraqi Christians are seeing the first signs of harassment and intimidation by the Muslim majority.

"Our women are accosted on the street and intimidated to start dressing according to Islamic tradition, our businesses are being burned, and the constant harassment is because of the attitude of appeasement toward Muslims," said one priest.

Sharia law is the law of the land in the new Iraq. That means only Muslims are first-class citizens. We created a similar situation in Afghanistan, where the new constitution has been criticized by human-rights groups as a kind of "Taliban-lite."

Is it too much for the United States to demand that this Christian minority – and all other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq – be protected and afforded full citizenship rights under the new government and constitution?

If so, was the sacrifice of American lives really worth it?

[Zinda: Joseph Farah's nationally syndicated column originates at WorldNetDaily, where he serves as editor and chief executive officer. This commentary appeared in the June 15th issue..]

The Baghdad Diaries

Rev. Kenneth Joseph Jr.

America at its Best!

`Shame` was the only word I could think of as I endured the `Iraqi Interim Government Announcement Ceremony` on a hot, dusty afternoon in Baghdad.

The even was extremely well organized. In spite of huge security concerns, one bombing in the center of Baghdad which we heard a couple times as the usual `thud`, it went off like clockwork.

It was the best of America! Professionally put together, a beautiful Iraqi map motif for a backdrop and it was all just `perfect`!

Young, energetic American young people, kindly speaking with the Iraqis who were to participate in the ceremony, helping in every way possible. Bringing them food, drinks - answering their every question, meeting every need.

Truly the best of America!

It all went downhill from there!

First, I began to notice something very strange. There were no Americans on the podium. Of course the Americans who had given over 800 of their brightest and best and thousands more injured to Liberate Iraq would be there to be thanked and honored?

It was not to be!

Not one American sat on the Podium for the ceremony. The `Iraqi Interim Government Announcement Ceremony`! Who in the world did everybody think made it all possible?

Next, the ceremony opened not with a normal announcement as befitting such an even but with an Islamic Mullah giving a sermon followed by a prayer that took a good long time.

I looked around. Surely, there would be other religious leaders there - the Assyrian Christians, the Jews, the Yazidiz . . . after all it is to be free, open society, right?

The vision for a secular, open, free Iraq swallowed up in the droning on of a Mullah who seemed to be wearing white tennis shoes and was one of the first to hit the drinks and food . . .

The Assyrian Christians - the indigenous people of Iraq, the people of Jonah and Nineveh received not one major position in the Government nor any rights in their indigenous homeland. One out of the two they did receive? Minister Immigration . . . a veiled threat to immigrate, leave the country? That is what they thought!

But then the speeches began. I waited and waited and waited and waited and waited for someone to say `thank you`, just one word . . . it was not to be!

Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, not only did not say `thank you`, but he apologized to the Iraqi people for their `suffering during the recent war and continued suffering under occupation` . . .

`The nerve!` I thought!

`The recent war?`, `The occupation?` What happened to 35 years of tyranny and terror? It was all wiped away with the brush of the `recent war` . .

Each speaker got up and spoke to the Iraqi people calling them to look toward the future, to all work together etc. etc. but nobody, nobody came near to saying `thank you` or even acknowledging the American presence.

The new Prime Minister, Mr. Ayad Allawi opened his speech by saying `I would like to express my deepest thanks to the United Nations and the secretary-general and to his distinguished envoy, brother Lakhdar Brahimi, for his vital role in supporting the political process and for his unique contribution made to Iraq in these difficult times that Iraq is passing through.`

Those are exact quotes!

After that he mumbled something in passing about `the liberation of Iraq by the coalition forces under the United States . . .

There was dead silence!

That was it! I started to clap as loud as I could to the angry stares of those around me!

That was it!

I lost it!

With all due respect to culture, values, uniqueness and all the other things that serve simply as excuses, how dare they after over 800 fellow human beings gave their lives to not only acknowledge the fact, but to say a hearty and joyous `thank you`.

My parents came to Japan shortly after world war when Japan was in a similar state. The Americans were loved, honored and thanked. My childhood growing up in Japan is full of the times someone would stop on the train, walking on the street, in a store and quietly look in my eyes and say `thank you` to the Americans for all they did for Japan.

What gives me hope is that unlike the group of anti-American exiles and others ungrateful human beings who filled that room a few hours ago, the Iraqi people, the `silent majority`, just like the Japanese are there to say a quiet `thank you`, followed by a worried `please don’t leave`.

Unfortunately, it is not politically correct or frankly good for your health to say that these days in Baghdad, but it is the truth.

On the way back from the convention center where the event was held I looked across the bus to see a sad and tired looking American soldier. `Why did you come to Iraq` I asked him as I have asked dozens of others from soldiers to secretaries to drivers.

It never fails! With no reason to lie, they with very few exceptions say something like `I wanted to play a part in saving a country . . . and giving back freedom to a people` . . .

I looked at him and said `nobody in there just now, said it, but on behalf of the silent majority of the Iraqi people I want to say `thank you`. `

I could see something like tears welling up in the eyes of a meddle aged man on a dusty, hot bus in central Baghdad and then the quick jerk of professionalism pulling them back in.

`Thank you, sir. Its my job, sir.`

Somehow I didn’t believe him . . . his job never called for him to spend over a year, risk his life and never even receive a `thank you`.

If you have a chance today send an email, a letter - better yet a box of cookies or a book or any one of a million things you would sure miss if you were on a desert Island.

Send them simply to:

Thank You, American!
Baghdad, Iraq

I know somebody here will make sure it gets to someone that could use it and there will be a lot of lonely soldiers, civilian cooks, drivers, security guards, Pastors, Chaplains and just about everyone in between that will tear up, grab the package and then suddenly catch themselves and say `Thank you, Sir, only doing my job, Sir . . .

God bless the Americans for doing what nobody would do - rid a nation of the terror of Saddam Hussein and do it without a word of `thank you` and higher gas prices!

Alexis De Touqville, the great Frenchman mused in answer to the question of why the Americans were so successful said `America is great because she is good . `

What he observed in America in the 19th century is alive and well in a dirty tent in hot, dusty Baghdad as I call out in the darkness to two, young, scared Americans - `God bless you. Lots of people are praying for you!`

`Just doing my job, sir , just doing my job . .. It`s dark so I cant see the tears . . .

God bless America . . . she is still Good and God never forgets . .

A D-Day for Iraq?

You can see it right away - to understand and quantify it is a much different thing!

The Iraqis call it the `black mind`. The signs are easy to recognize. There is the arrogant swagger, the blazing eyes, the generally unkempt manner and the strident views that always seem to defy logic but clearly scream `uneducated`!

I sat down with one of the `black mind`. Abbas Mohammed, 24 seems to take pride in the fact that he is a `black mind`.

`I don’t care what anyone thinks of me - I believe what I believe and that is all.` he taunts.

On the Americans :

`They are the ones causing all our problems. They cause everything to not work, the bombings, killing our people. They are the cause.` he says.

`What about Saddam? What about the muhajadeen and terrorists` we ask.

`They are not good, but the Americans are the worst`. he continues.

The interpreter angered, yells at him `How can you compare the Americans to Saddam and the terrorists? Are you crazy? It is the terrorists that do the bombs! Not the Americans?`

Eyes ablaze one can see the `black mind` set in, as logic, common sense is submerged by its all encompassing power.

Obviously not getting anywhere and to prevent a fight between the irate translator we move on.

`What do you think of freedom`. we continue.

`Man is not free. Only free to believe God.`

`If your son comes to you one day and says `Father, I have to tell you the truth, I do not believe`. what would you do?

The answer is swift, harsh and the `black` eyes are all ablaze. `The koran teaches that at 8 years old you should teach your son, at 10 years you should beat your son. If he does not believe I will kill him. I will burn him. He does not deserve life`.

Not sure I got the translation right, I check with the translator. `Did he just say if his son decided not to believe he would kill him or burn him`

Shaking her had, her face burning with anger, she says `yes, you see the black mind?``

We continue.

`What do you think of women?`.

`They are nothing - they are less than 1/10 of man.` he blazes on.

Suddenly the interpreter steps in and begins shouting at him. `I cannot continue! It is enough. Have him leave`.

We end the conversation with the `black mind`, eyes ablaze, swagger in full swing and the arrogance seething standing up and walking off.

The translator is very shaken. 34 year old Zainab, continues.

`You see, this is the problem! This is our enemy! It is this `black mind` that is the cause of all our troubles. It is not the Americans. They have come, they have given of their lives. We see them every day, working so hard with us to make things better. It is the `black mind` that wants to destroy everything!`

`It is the religious leaders that create this `black mind`. As you can see they are crazy! Can you imagine any religious leaders that would teach you to kill your son if he does not believe like you? Can you imagine any religious leader that would say a woman is worth only a 10th of a man? Can you imagine any religious leader that would ignore all Saddam did for 35 years of terror and condemn those who came to liberate us?

It is crazy!

`Where does this come from?`

`Maybe 30% of the people are either those connected with Saddam and these with the `black mind`. It comes from islam.` she continued. The vast majority of the people, of course do not think like this, but the `black mind` intimidates them so they are afraid to say the truth.`

`I am a muslim but somebody must speak the truth. Do you know what the reality is? I do now wear a veil over my head. The religious leaders came to my home and told my mother that if I did not start to cover my head and stay at home they would kill me. My mother ordered them away.`

That would be bad enough! The same `religious leader` later came to me and asked me if I would come to his house for money! A `religious leader! Can you believe it!`

`The religious leaders - they are all liars, killers and thieves and they simply use `religion` to cover up all the bad things they do! I am sick of it!`

`Do you think the women cover their heads and their bodies in winter coats because they want to? No! They do it because they are intimidated from a religious leader, a neighbor - often from their own family who is intimidated from some religious leader. These men are out of control and someone has to stop them! We are thankful the Americans are trying!`

This is the reality.

`People thing that many go to the Holy Cities of Karbala and Najef to pray to God. Do you know what the reality is? There are hundreds of Iranian and Iraqi girls who take two weeks off supposedly to visit the Holy Cities but in fact they go there and are prostitutes - they charge 5,000 dinar - about three dollars each time. This is the reality.`

`Do you know what happens in Ramadan the Month of Fasting? They actually get fat during the month of fasting. They do not eat during the day because they are intimidated then they watch the clock and as soon as it is sundown they begin to eat and drink and party.`

`Do you think people pray? They complain at the early morning blaring sounds of the `call to prayer` from the Mosques when they are sleeping! Go do the Mosque, other than Friday when many are intimidated into going nobody prays! They do not actually believe! It is all all al lie!`

Trying to get something `politically correct` out of the conversation`, I ask `but it is not islam that is the reason, is it?`

`Yes, it is` she replies! `It is the religious teachers that cause the `black mind` the mind in which everything is backwards - it is good to kill, women are no good, beat your child . . . this is all crazy! How can any religious person teach this and then say if you don’t do as they say they will kill you! What is this?!

`You see` she continues, `it is the religious teachers that are the enemies of Iraq. They block progress for one simple reason - they depend on the `black mind` to stay in power, they create it by keeping people uneducated and under their control. When progress comes, people have freedom and are able to experience and understand truth then they will realize the problem is the religious leaders and the power of the `black mind` will be gone. This is why they are so desperate to see the Americans and the forces of freedom defeated. `

What do you think of the Americans and what they have done in Iraq?

She is quick to answer. `They are our saviors! They got rid of Saddam! The Americans have brought us freedom - finally. I suffered greatly under Saddam, in particular under his sons. It makes me angry to hear the man with the `black mind` say nothing about Saddam but about the Americans. This is crazy!`.

`Do you want the Americans to stay in Iraq? For how long?`

`Of course! Forever until we can get rid of the `Black mind`.

Worried that I may be getting only one opinion, I talk to 21 year old Rasha ALi, sitting nearby. .

`What do you think?` `She is right! He has the `black mind`. We are happy the Americans have come and finally helped us get rid of Saddam Now we are free, but if we are not careful we will have another Saddam - the people of the `black mind`.

`Do you want the Americans to stay`

`Yes, of course!`

`How long!`

With a look of surprise she answers like the vast majority of the `silent majority` in Iraq feels.

`Forever of course!`

So what is happening? Are the `Iraqi people` we are always hearing about who want the occupation to end, want the Americans to leave and are so angry about everything they do really the `voice of the people` or the voice of the small minority that desperately wants everything to fail so they can continue to cling to power?

At least the `word on the street` is clear - they are the problem!

One soon learns the `look`. If you speak anything positive, anything not in accordance with the `black minds` you get the `look`. It says `be careful` . . .

Was the liberation of Iraq a mistake? Is the occupation of Iraq a failure? The answer to that question should not be from the exiles who have spent most of their lives overseas and from those with the `black mind`, but from the average people - the `silent majority` that any country has.

Away from the `look` and the `black minds` and the threats of the thugs and all their henchmen, you get a very, very different picture.

`We want the Americans to stay forever!` seems to be the clear answer! Please help free us from the darkness . . .

Ethnic Cleansing In New Interim Government in Iraq!

With shock and disbelief Christians in Iraq reacted to the news that the Interim Government contained no Christians in the seven man Executive Council and only one in the Cabinet of 32 members.

What particularly got the anger of the community that according to the previous regime numbers nearly 2.5 million out of a population of 23 million and up to 6 million worldwide was the one ministry they were given.

The position given to Ms. Pascale Isho Warda, an Assyrian Christian was the position of Minister of Displacement and Migration, known in Iraq as the `Minister of Emigration`.

For those not acquainted with the plight of all non-muslims in the Middle East where the non-muslim population has gone from nearly 18% to under 2% due to a sustained, and region wide policy of `ethnic cleansing` and the plight of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq in particular it might not mean anything. For the Assyrian Christians, though it was an act that perpetuated the twofold persecution that they continue to face - racist and religious.

As they are not Arabs, and the indigenous people of Iraq - remember Jonah and the Whale? Nineveh is Mosul and the people of Nineveh are the Assyrians!

Added to the fact that they face constant racial discrimination in spite of the fact that they are the indigenous or original people of Iraq, they face further abuse because they are Christians in a sea of moslems.

What particularly galled the Assyrian Christians was the fact that during Saddam's regime he did all he could to force the Assyrians to leave the country - wanting to `ethnically cleanse` the country of all non-arabs and non-moslems.

The meaning to the Assyrian Christians of being given the `Ministry of Emigration` was a clear message - intended or not that they are not wanted, that they should leave - that the policy of `Ethnic Cleansing` continues.

`I am very, very angry` commented 43 year old Tarik, an Assyrian Christian from Baghdad. `We are the original people of Iraq. It is not us who should leave Iraq, it is the Arabs that have abused us for centuries that should. We are angry that they insulted us like this. We are sick and tired of being abused, taken advantage of and intimidated. We will not take it anymore! We demand our homeland in Assyria just like the Kurds and we will no longer be nice. We demand our land back.`

21 year old Anmar agreed. `Most of all I am very, very sad. It is our country. We do all we can to live in peace with the Arabs who took our land, our homes and killed 2/3 of our people. We love them because God teaches us to do so, but they constantly abuse us and this was the final abuse. To give us the ministry of Emigration is completely unacceptable. I feel like giving up, but we must demand our land and our freedom as the Americans promised. We can no longer live with the Arabs if they continue to abuse us. Like the Kurds we demand our indigenous lands in Autonomy.

26 year old Duraid, though expressed the view that is worrying many. `I have had enough. I am going to leave Iraq and move to the United States. I know I should stay, but I am getting married and want to start a family and there is no future for us in Iraq. We believe the Americans were going to make Iraq a Democracy but when the Constitution says `Islam is the official Religion of the State` and we are given only one ministry and that the Ministry of Emigration there is no longer any future for me - I am leaving.`

If that was the intent of the appointment, it worked for one young Assyrian Christians.

Efforts are being made by the Assyrian Community to set up a nationwide `Assyrian 911` to provide 24 hour emergency assistance to the suffering Assyrian Christian Community.

Unfortunately, no funds exist in current programs to support such a venture - probably the only thing that can give the community some measure of assurance that they will be protected.

43 year old Father Y (Names protected as they face direct risk), said `I just got back from handling a case where an Assyrian Christian was falsely accused by a neighbor and threatened with arrest. I got there just in time to mediate the situation with the Police.

It is this kind of daily harassment and abuse that ranges from such petty cases to actual intimidation, killing of family members and burning of homes and businesses that we see on a daily basis. We feel the only solution is twofold - a central place where we can go for help for our community and an Assyrian Autonomous Area where we, like the Kurds can be protected.

We will no longer tolerate this constant harassment and intimidation. We need our land where we can be safe - otherwise we will have no choice but to join the exodus of non-moslems from the Middle East.`

The view shifts to Congress over the next few days as the 25 Billion Dollar appropriations bill for Iraq is being considered.

One major Assyrian Christian Political Leader put it more succinctly `We can do nothing here in Iraq for ourselves. We truly fear for our lives if we speak out. The only hope for our people is if the United States demands for us a homeland like the Kurds and protection in a zone in our original homeland. If not the ethnic cleansing begun under Saddam will continue and we will all be decimated either through death or emigration.`

One week ago Christians throughout the world declared a `Day of Prayer For the Christians of Iraq` and various efforts are ongoing on Capitol Hill and with the US Administration in Washington to attach a rider to the 25 Billion Dollar bill for Iraq demanding protection for the Christians of Iraq.

`All we can do is hope and pray that the Americans will do the right thing` said Philip, an Assyrian Christian. `If they can help us with autonomy for our area there will at least be one area in Iraq that will not descend into chaos and civil war as we all expect will happen on July 1 - The Assyrian Administrative Region, our homeland can be the one `success story` in Iraq that will be the example to the rest of the Middle East.`

Will his prayer and the prayers of the other 2.5 million Assyrian Christina's living in Iraq and the 3.5 living overseas be answered? The answer apparently lies not in Iraq but in Washington.

Assyrian Christians Lead Baghdad Government Charter Announcement!

Assyrian George Bakoos took center stage as `master of ceremonies` and leader of the `Town Hall` beginning of the new Baghdad Regional Charter inauguration

I have personally worked on this project for the past three months and it is the culmination of much hard work. It is especially gratifying that our positions are not appointed but chosen from the Iraqi public.`

George Bakoos, an Assyrian resident of London, came to Iraq over a year ago and has been working with the Coalition Provisional Authority to put together local government and the Baghdad City Charter. Today was the culmination of this effort in which the Charter and preparation for elections under it were announced.

What was particularly gratifying in a pattern that hopefully will transfer throughout the country, Bakoos was elected from the Baghdad population to head the committee to put together the Charter.

`I think the Assyrians in Iraq have the respect of the people as trustworthy and good. If we can translate this into actual positions, votes and political power I think we can accomplish many of the goals we have had as people for generations.`

Four speakers led the panel before an audience of about 300. Acting Governor of Baghdad, Hattam Kamil Abed Al Fattah, Baghdad City Council Member Mohammed Zamil Sa`eed Al Sa`dy, Baghdad Regional Council Chairman Kadhum Atya Kadhum and Baghdad Provincial Council Member, Juliet Isaac, also an Assyrian.

As the only Woman on the panel Ms. Isaac stood her ground explaining to the audience the benefits of the new charters for Baghdad City, Baghdad Province and Baghdad Regional governments.

I am confident we can make a difference` she said. Proudly wearing a large gold cross around her neck, she continued. `We believe that we can participate in all levels of Government and make a difference for Iraq as well as for our people`.

In contrast to Assyrian Minister of Immigration, Pascale Ishoo who hours earlier fumbled badly a Foxnews live interview and had to be cut off twice, Isaac was professional, crisp and confident.

All was not rosy though. The Baghdad Charters all begin with words from the Koran, a small compromise that many feel bodes ill for the future of a secular, open Iraq.

`I did my best` says Bakoo. `I could not do everything, but considering the past, where we are now and in the interest of the Iraqi people in general and us as Assyrians in particular I think there is much hope that Iraq can develop into a secular, open, democracy.`

If Bakoo is right, there is much that Assyrians living both in Iraq and those outside can do, first by registering to vote regardless of where they live and second by engaging directly in the political process to gain as much leverage as possible to be able to push forward an Assyrian Regional Government based on Article 54 of the Transitional Administrative Law.

A final area of deep concern is the status of the law itself - the judgment is out as to whether the Transitional Administrative Law itself is legal after the June 30 handover. According to clear international law, any legal provisions during Occupation are null and void following the return of sovereignty.

The failure to include any mention of the Transitional Administrative Law in the recent United Nations Resolution which raised red flags to many concerned, may prove to be a very serious development for the future of Iraq and may result in the efforts of many to steer Iraq on a path towards democracy and the rule of law.

The day before the Minister of the Interior for the first broached publicly in a press conference the possibility that Marital Law might be declared in Iraq if events warranted it.

[Zinda: Act Now! Click here to view the U.S. and U.N. officials' emails, telephone and facsimile numbers presented at the end of Rev. Joseph's previous article for Zinda magazine. For faster service you may wish to use PolitiFAX.]

Assyrians at their Best

Diane Pathieu

Born and raised on the North side of Chicago, Diane went through the Chicago Public Schools. She entered the broadcast profession when she was 18. She carries a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia College in Chicago. In school, she was an anchor and reporter for a closed circuit college news program which aired live twice a week. She was also a member of a hand-picked media ethics group, which held discussions on CBS in Chicago, and were headed up by renowned journalist Carol Marin. Diane is fluent in Assyrian, and has taken six years of Spanish. She spends her free time reading fiction novels, and she loves to cook, everything from American to Mediterranean dishes. (She loves to eat too!!)

Diane Pathieu joined the KCRG-TV Channel 9 news team in Iowa in August of 2002. In September of 2003, Diane was named anchor of the TV9 News At 11:30. Diane also reports five days a week on the TV9 Morning News at 5:00am. Her most recent project includes "Dishing With Diane," a segment highlighting favorite diners! She is thrilled to be a part of the morning show, it allows her to explore issues important to Eastern Iowa families on the go.

Diane came to Cedar Rapids from KFXB, the Fox affiliate in Dubuque. There she was the main anchor and producer for both the 5 and 10 pm shows. In addition, she edited and wrote her own material. She also participated in a reading to kids program, and helped younger children understand the importance of reading, which she continues here in the Cedar Rapids area.

Diane enjoys living in Eastern Iowa a great deal, she says it is one of the few areas were people actually walk by and always say hello. And being part of such a great morning show, allows her to learn from the best, and be a part of a long-time tradition.

The Chariot
Back to the Future

The Legend of Sharrukin: King Sargon II of Assyria

Ninos Isaac

I am Tiglath-Ramsin Malik, senior Akkadian scribe to Ashuruballit II, the King of Assyria, who himself is the mighty warrior, king of the four corners of the earth, beloved of the patron god, Sin of Harran.

Today, my friend Tarkan the Egyptian asked me about Sargon, since in Egypt they believe that Sargon was not a man, but a god, a god of war, the mightiest man to ever wander on earth. And if that isn’t enough, Tarkan claims to have seen at least 32 statues, obelisks, or steles around the city in which we find ourselves. All of these memorials are specifically dedicated to Sargon. He said to me, “Tiglath, what gives? What is all this love for Sargon here in Harran? And why do we know of him in Egypt.” So I wanted Tarkan my Egyptian friend to know some of the basic facts about our great warrior-king.
Now Sargon was both a great military strategist and a pure warrior. He came to power by very controversial means, as we discussed last week when we spoke about how King Shalmaneser had taxed Assur, and Sargon had led a national uprising against the king. In that uprising several cities, their nobles, and the church of Assyria itself had rebelled against the royalists and the peasants, the peasants always having been loyal to the king.

Sargon’s Rise to Power

Sargon’s rise to the throne began when Tiglath-Pileser installed Hosea on the Israeli throne. When Hosea, King of Israel, revolted against Assyria, it led to a three year siege of Israel's capital city by Tiglath-Pileser's son, Shalmaneser. At the very time that Samaria fell, civil war broke out in Assyria after the imposition of taxes on the sacred city of Assur. This act was contrary to all precedent and it led to an armed rebellion within that city. Skirmishes subsequently spread to other Assyrian cities. At that time, Sargon was the popular governor of Nineveh. He seized the moment. After a successful coup, Sargon displaced Shalmaneser as king of Assyria. Sargon's first royal act was to abolish the illegal tax obligations placed upon the city of Assur. In his royal inscriptions Sargon says that he restored the special tax-exempt status not only for the city of Assur, but also for the city of Harran. Harran is where we find ourselves today so there is no more popular figure in this city than Sargon. He is practically worshipped by the Assyrians of this city!
Sargon spent the first two years of his rule mopping up resistance from pro-Shalmaneser forces and he was unable to conduct any foreign campaigns until the second year of his rule. Sargon himself was not the next in the royal line after Tiglath-Pileser. That distinction belonged to the man he had overthrown, namely Shalmaneser. That is why Sargon chose a royal name – Sharrukin – that sought to remind all of his rightful station as ruler of Assyria. As king of Assyria, Sargon proved himself to be both a brilliant military strategist and a mighty warrior. In his royal accounts he chronicles his battle plans with more specificity than any other Assyrian monarch. Moreover, numerous battlefield successes were accentuated by achievements in the areas of diplomatic relations and building projects.

Sargon Diplomatic Accomplishments

Sargon was the first Assyrian king to establish long-lasting diplomatic ties with distant nations such as Egypt and Cyprus. The show of military force on the border of Egypt in prompted the Egyptian Pharaoh, Osorkan IV, to send gifts to Sargon II and seek friendly relations. Perhaps this is why Sargon is also adored in Egypt! Under Sargon a strong rapport was established between Egypt and Assyria. This was typified by their first international free trade agreement. Prior to this, sour relations had existed between Egypt and ourselves, This is illustrated by the famous Assyrian embargo of Lebanese timber, which precipitated an Egyptian conspiracy against Assyria, during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser. Likewise, Assyrian relations with Cyprus were such that Sargon records that he sent a stone monument of himself to be erected there. Sargon consolidated, and then expanded, the empire on all fronts. In the north he quelled troublesome neighbors, while in the south he built strong diplomatic ties with Babylon. To accomplish this, he paid homage to the gods of Babylon and he protected Babylonian trade form the disruptive influence of Persian barbarians. Other accomplishments on the non-diplomatic front include the new canal from Borsippa to Babylon to alleviate a water shortage in that country and his building of an entirely new fortress city. He called that city Dûr Sharrukin (or Fort Sargon), and populated it with peoples from all over the world.

It is also interesting to note that he deferred the duties of running the government to his favorite son and Crown Prince of Assyria, Sennacherib. Numerous letters between Sargon II and Sennacherib attest to this. Writers, such as my grandfather, rarely discussed their reports with Sargon, but Sennacherib was appointed to handle the recording of all of Sargon’s activities, including his annual campaigns.

Sargon the Warrior

Sargon was a man of great physical strength and stature who loved to lead his troops into the heat of battle. Yet his bravado was not blind; it was reinforced with wisdom. Sargon was extremely well versed in military strategies. His battle plans were always elaborate and the tactics that were employed in each military conflict always seemed unique and relevant to the specific context. He always seemed to rise victorious in battle, even if the odds were stacked heavily against him. The swiftness with which Sargon was able to defeat the numerically superior forces of Shalmaneser in the Assyrian Civil War illustrated Sargon's effectiveness as both field-general and military strategist. Had he lost that war, his head would have been placed on a spike outside Nineveh main gate. Instead, he became ruler of the free world. A plethora of successful campaigns waged against the enemies of Assyria are further testimony to Sargon's military genius.

Tarkan has asked me for a good example of Sargon's military adventures, and perhaps the most famous would be his swift campaign against the combined forces of southern Armenia. In that encounter, a group of nations had overrun a province that was friendly to Assyria. The deposed king pleaded with Sargon to restore the independence of that nation. Sargon heard the plea of the king and mobilized his forces. The campaign began with a solar eclipse on the 24th of October. An eclipse would normally be interpreted as a bad omen, but Sargon seized the opportunity. He gathered his troops and told them that the sign was not a bad omen not for Assyria, but rather for the enemies of Assur. The Assyrians marched to battle. Reports from Assyrian spies then reached Sargon that a numerically superior, enemy force was lying in wait to ambush him. The outnumbered Assyrians were weary from a long and arduous march, and as Sargon reports, were close to mutiny. They were further dismayed to find the combined armies of Urartu before them. Sargon assessed the situation and acted quickly. Without waiting for the rest of his army, he led an immediate attack with just a small unit of household cavalry. Having spotted Rusa, the king of Urartu, in his chariot, Sargon fearlessly rode straight at him. Rusa was completely shocked by the bravado of Sargon. He panicked and fled. The rest of the army, having witnessed the flight of their leader, also panicked and fled. This was a total rout of an army that vastly outnumbered the Assyrians. The triumph was directly attributable to the personal leadership of Sargon.

Death and Remembrance

It is perhaps fitting that Sargon ultimately died not in Nineveh or in his royal palace at Dûr Sharrukin, but on the battlefield. He was slain in the middle of the night by barbarians who had infiltrated the Assyrian camp. During the Festival of Water, the Childrens’ Theatres in the cities of Assur and Harran annually perform this event on the Main Street of both cities. They say that the tears that have been shed by the audiences of those reenactments over the years are enough to fill the Tigris and irrigate the entire northern valley. He was not a ‘legitimate king’ in the true sense of the words but he was a legend and he was loved. He was a true King.

[Zinda: The Chariot is a representation of historical facts about Assyria, presented in a likely historical context that has been created by the author.]

Thank You
Zinda Magazine thanks the following individuals for their contribution in the preparation of this week's issue.

Fred Aprim (California)
Dr. Matay Arsan (Holland)

Helen Badawi (Chicago)
David Chibo (Australia)
George Hanna (The Netherlands)
Dr. Arianne Ishaya (California)
Tomas Isik (Sweden)
Petr Kubalek (Czech Republic)
Adam Odisho (Sweden)

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