20 Neesan 6755
Volume XI

Issue 18

9 April 2005


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Pope John Paul II



Assyrian Leaders Pay Tribute to the Most Extraordinary Man of Our Time




This Week in Zinda

Zinda Says
  Our Success as a Nation Alfred Alkhas
The Lighthouse
  Tupsharru Sha Shaneena La Esho Nineb Lamassu
Good Morning Assyria
  Warda Represents Iraqi Government at Pope's Funeral
Assyrian Patriarch & Bishop Attend Pope's Funeral
Christians, Muslim Leaders in Iraq Attend Services for Pope
Pope John Paul II Remembered in Iran
Latest News from Assyrians in Jordan
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News Digest
  Dr. Taimoorazy Named Illinois Physician of the Year
In Iraq, Thanks for Man who Gave Help and Hope
Surfs Up!

Surprised and…Disappointed!
One of the Best
The Bishop or the Pawn
Better to Remain Silent on Nationalistic Issues

Ekrem Kas
Zaya Toma
Ashuriena-Gozal E. Baba
S. Sargon Elia

Assyrian Spring Music Festival 2005

  My Visit to Zowaa Camp in Baghdad
Church of Martyrs
The Islamic Republic Of Iraq - Who Speaks for the People!
Youbert Nissan
Anthony Browne
Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.
Columnist Corner
  Occupation & Insurrection Ivan Kakovitch
  Obie Yadqar: Finding His Voice Doris V. Cummins

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

Mr. Alfred Alkhas is an avid reader of Zinda Magazine whose letters to my office have frequently appeared in the Surfs Up section of this publication. Sharing the same last name, Alfred and I are often mistakenly thought to be related. What complicates this matter further is that Mr. Alkhas shares the same first name with my late father, Alfred Alkhass-Adeh. Alfred and I finally met for the first time last year at an Assyrian function. He remains one of my strictest critics and in effect a close friends whose opinion I greatly respect. Clearly, Mr. Alkhas and I share a keen interest in the future of the Assyrian people in the Middle East and I am pleased to present one of his judicious pieces here as a guest editorial.

Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

Our Success as a Nation

A Guest Editorial

Alfred Alkhas

The current political situation in Iraq is not promising a lot especially for minorities! The long awaited dawn of democracy is yet to rise despite what the US is preaching. On the other hand, Iraq stability and security, which are the key factors to establish any free and democratic society, are far from being achieved after two years of occupation and despite the free elections and the creation of the third Iraqi government within less than two years!

The Political Scene
The current political map in Iraq shows few political/religious parties who are holding the absolute power and playing the major role in deciding the future of Iraq. These major powers are the same who once occupied 23 seats out of 25 in the dissolved IGC and who are occupying now 264 seats (or more!) of the total 275 of the Iraqi National Assembly.

The Islamic religious coalition and Kurds seem to have established an agreement on dividing the coming government between them and yet with very weak coalition that might collapse at any moment. In fact, the strong political presence, i.e. the occupation, of the Americans was able to control the country so far by securing and moderating any major political conflict between these major powers.

The US occupation of Iraq proved its necessity for all Iraqis being the most effective security valve which prevented the explosion of the completely instable situation. At the same time, it was the dominant factor behind the ‘creation’ of the long awaited (two month after the elections) new interim ‘elected’ government.

On the other hand, the Assyrians (also called Chaldo-Assyrians) among other Iraqi Christians who are dispersed all over the country mainly in major cities like Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Erbil, Basra and their suburbs are practically voiceless in this ‘drama’. They created more than 10 political parties and social organizations to represent them who, ironically, all failed to win except one orphan seat that is expected to represent the 750,000 or more Christians!

The above bitter facts should be alarming signals for all of us to indicate that none of these political groups is neither capable nor could claim the whole responsibility or the whole power or to direct our public opinion. Even though all these political groups claimed that we are one nation with different names; however, unfortunately they totally failed to convince the people that they really mean what they preach!

There are several reasons for this failure that can be summated by the following:

  1. The absence of real national objective dialogue between our factions.
  2. The absence of the national awareness of the historic events that we are facing.
  3. The limited capabilities of our politicians to address our national issue to the Iraqis.
  4. The weak support of our people for any of these political groups.

This national failure is completely unacceptable and we need to immediately reconsider our plans, our coalitions and our campaigns should we deem to reach better results.

Possible Remedies:
The following are some possible important avenues that we must deal with and work diligently to achieve:

  1. Call for a national conference to include representatives from all factions.
  2. Invite all political parties, religious leaders and national intellects without exceptions and without any pre-conditions to avoid any excuses.
  3. Adopt one central strategy of setting aside any disagreements and focus only on we agree in a healthy and productive dialogue.
  4. Involve other Iraqis to negotiate the best way to present our case to the Iraqis.
  5. Prepare for a strong international campaign backed by the support of the western governments in North America and Europe.
  6. Work closely with various International Organizations around the world and get their political and financial support.

The current unstable situation and the conflicts between the major powers in Iraq definitely would impact our negotiations and limit our options because different political groups have different views of the future of Iraq. This issue would eventually narrow or even eliminate any possibility of negotiating our rights without adopting the political view of one side or the other.


Given the above complex situation, a pessimist might conclude that we have a very dark picture and even might conclude that no light could be seen at the end of the tunnel. But such conclusion is in contrary to any realistic and objective view because the main point in this entire dilemma is to answer one simple question:

Do we really believe that we are one nation?

If the answer is yes, then nothing can virtually stop us from achieving our national goals. However, if the answer is no, then we need not to further discuss the issue because any thing loses its real value when broken into tiny pieces.

The two steps that we must take are simple yet need brave and courageous individuals who truly believe in saving the fate of this nation:

  1. Unify our voice internally on the political, ethnical and religious fronts before we even negotiate our demands with other Iraqis.
  2. Work with all Iraqi national groups that advocate for a new secular democratic Iraq and endorse all Iraqi honest voices that are calling for equal rights regardless the numbers or the religious beliefs or ethnicities.

Final Thoughts:

Obviously, any path or avenue could work for a small group in a semi-democratic system but the most influential factor would be having one unified voice and one organized campaign that would eventually lead to the desired success. In other words, our unity is a ‘MUST’ for our success along with the presence of solid plans that are two fundamental pre-requisites to reach our national rights in Iraq.

Failing to work on these essential avenues would eventually result in loosing this historic opportunity and it must be realized that this is not an option. It is time to forget our all differences and disagreements. It is time to work together and make this national project great success for our nation. It is time to achieve our ultimate goals in reinstating our national rights.

It might be depressing for minorities living in any society where absolute power and oppression play the major roles in determining its future and therefore such minorities might feel helpless and hopeless. However, let us not forget that there have been along the history a lot of small nations and groups who were oppressed for long decades and managed to find their way for salvation by their unity, devotion, hard work and diligent efforts with the help and support of the international community.

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The Lighthouse
Feature Article

Tupsharru Sha Shaneena La Esho

Nineb Lamassu
United Kingdom
Translated from Assyrian by Ninos Warda

According to the world renowned Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho: the writer is like a women that conceives through an intercourse with man and carries the embryo in her womb for months until time has come for her to give birth. A writer too goes through a similar experience; one is influenced by everything in his environment, and one carries this influence until, ones thoughts ripen and time is suitable for them to be written on a blank white paper.

The celebrated Arab poet, Nizar Qabbani once said: poetry is like fishing. The fisher casts his rod and waits for a fish to bite the hook, once it does; it then depends on the skills of the fisher to catch it.

Odisho Malko Ashitha, the erudite Assyrian scholar, the excellent and skilful writer: every dawn washes his face with the light and warmth of the sun, and when it sets; he tucks under the transparent summer clouds embroidered with the magical stars of Baghdad. In such a beautiful environment and elegant atmosphere, in such a country that is full of momentous events, of course the creativity of a capable writer like Odisho Malko Ashitha will flourish and multiply; for he is an eminent scholar, proficient in his mother’s tongue, and well aware of his Assyrian culture.

A few days ago his new book ‘The Hopes of the Captive’ reached me. This book of 208 pages is a collection of his poetry. The book is divided in to five sections, edited to correspond to five phases of his life. Although Odisho Malko Ashitha, has always been courageous and far from cowardly in his patriotic writings even during the tyrannical era of Saddam but the poetry of this compilation seems to have been held due to stark explicitly.

As I commenced to read the introduction I felt that the book must not be read in a room confined with walls but somewhere within the vicinity or with similar environment to that of Kalkhu (Nimrud), Nineveh, and the highland resorts (?) of Assyria.
In London, the only place that gets near to the aforementioned environment is the British Museum that contains substantial number of Assyrian antiquities. And this prompted me to go to the British Museum to set and read the book there.

Whilst standing there in front of the beautifully carved statue of Lamassu I drew from the hopes of the captive and touched the cold marble of Nineveh [2] and felt the warmth that an orphan would feel in his mother’s embrace. As I sat there at times reading the poems and at times marvelling at the delicately and marvellously carved wall reliefs which once decorated the palaces[3] of the Assyrian kings, I saw a stark resemblance between the art of Ashurnasirpal’s and Ashurbanipal’s palaces and the poetry of the hopes of the captive. In both one finds beauty, strength, love, faith, defeat and delight. It is known that from the reign of Ashurnasirpal (who was the first Assyrian king that decorated the walls of his palace with beautiful reliefs) every Assyrian king until the reign of Ashurbanipal followed suite. Thus five kings built five palaces in Kalhu, Dur-Sharrukin and Nineveh. Odisho Malko Ashitha too, divided his compilation into five parts. Could this be a bare coincidence or is it the fate of one who is obsessed with a land formed by divine Ashur, and one who has not deserted his country even in the time of tyranny and suffering, this love for his land is best described in his poem ‘Akh Iraq’:

Akh w’alpa akhe w’seekhe khameeme
Rthakha gaw lebi w’la lay bikwaye.
Ya leba d’parzla w’kepa simtdaya
La qhe la ilukh min khrawe w’tdwaye.
La wit mtawube w’shwaqa w’ba’raqa
W’akh talga pshara gaw ma’erwaye.
Mqawma marr’a le w’kipna be’rayukh?
Yan nishat mtdulqa w’la wit bikhzaye.
Yan khaputhala qreshta qam ‘aynukh
W’sliwa dimmana brishukh bimkhaye!!.
Ya ‘aywa d’rakhme d’rayis l’khaqlatha
Khuwnawa d’kanun ap nisanaye.
‘Al gumre d’lebi rus min kiwreetha
Qa d’raghsha gani la win beit khayye.
Yawmathi ‘wara ‘am qupe w’ta’le
W’Piqatha d’khimqa madrashi qraye.
Kulyum ‘ad’eda d’nisan w’Simele
W’kasa d’suriya b’shilyutha shtaye.

Could it also be destiny and fate that the epic of Gilgamesh was written on twelve tablets, and that the hopes of the captive is Odisho Malko Ashitha’s twelve book? Or is he too, just like Gilgamesh who affirmed his immortality in twelve tablets is affirming his immortality through his twelve book when he says:

In hawin meeta w’pleetda min brita
Mushkhathee b’payshee tdakhsa w’khusaye.

Odisho Malko Ashitha appeals to the reader to read the poem ‘Mushlimla’ ten times before making his/her judgement. Yes I have read it over ten times, and I have not judged Odisho Malko Ashitha or her! But my predicament is in not knowing who to take to the Euphrates the holy river, so there the god of the river could judge him [6].

Odisho Malko Ashitha stands firmly facing all the foes and adversaries of the Assyrian nation, and tells all of them (without discrimination between petty traitors and arch enemies) the following:

Per’a peesha gaw athri in b’tishreen tdarpe nathri
B’nisan mbartdinee w’qathri pikkhe d’payshee min bathri.

Another word this nation has lived and will continue to live forever. It was here when time began and it shall be here when time ends: standing firm in a land that existed from time immemorial and will continue to exist in a country where joy and suffering, life and death are only phases which the people of the land experience on daily bases.

In conclusion I have nothing to add other than to seize this opportunity and say to Odisho Malko Ashitha: bravo O Tupsharru Sha Shaneena La Esho.


  1. I have written this title in the Neo-Assyrian dialect of Akkadian and it means the scribe/scholar without a rival.
  2. The Assyrians used a special stone found in abundance in Assyria and now called the Mosul marble to carve the orthostats and wall reliefs. Thus Nineveh Marble is my way of saying Mosul marble.
  3. Nineb Lamassu used the word haykla to designate a palace but in our modern Assyrian dialect haykla means a temple and not a palace. In the foot notes however, he is informing us that “the term haylka is a Sumerian loan word (E GAL) in Akkadian which literally means ‘big house’ and that it still survives in the modern Assyrian: although it is usually used to mean a temple but if one looks up its entry in Simtha D’Lishana lexicon of Mar Oudo one will find ‘big house’ as one of the meanings which correlate with the exact original meaning.”
  4. Ashurnasirpal (859-883) in Kalhu; Sargon II (705-721) in Dur-Sharrukin; Senacherrib (681-704) and Esarhaddon (669-680) and Ashurbanipal (631-668) in Nineveh. I didn’t count Tiglath-Pileser III (727-744) in because his palaces was never completed.
  5. Nineb Lamassu here again has used the word Matha to mean a country. Although this word does mean country along with village in modern Assyrian but it is scarcely used to mean a country whilst it is usually used to mean a village. He explains this bay informing us that this too is of Akkadian origin (Matu) and it meant country is ancient Assyrian.
  6. Nineb Lamassu refers here to the ‘river ordeal’ which is an ancient Mesopotamian phenomena: in case of an allegation, one (the accused) or ones substitute would be taken to Euphrates; one would have to swim, if that person sunk then one was guilty, if that person swam and survived then the allegation was cleared.
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Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland

Assyrian Patriarch & Bishop Attend Pope's Funeral

(ZNDA: Vatican)  The Assyrian Church of the East Patriarch, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, and Bishop Bawai Soro were among the many heads of religious groups attending Pope John Paul II's funeral on Friday, the largest gathering of its kind in modern history.

There were also many representatives from the Oriental Orthodox churches -- Christian bodies that broke with Rome in the 5th century after the Council of Chalcedon. Among these were the Coptic patriarch of Egypt and the Syriac patriarch of Antioch. Catholicos Karekin II led a substantial group from the Armenian Apostolic Church, which had drawn very close to Rome during the latest pontificate.

The attendance of the eastern church leaders was a testimony to the late Pope's efforts to restore unity between Christians of the East and West.

Pope John Paul II was committed to the unity of the Christian Churches which had through centuries maintained a competing stance on often understudied liturgy and misunderstood theologies. 

Since 1986 he played a crucial role in bringing together his Church and the Church of the East and also the two historic Assyrian Churches, the Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul II and Mar Dinkha IV signed a Common Christological Declaration on 12 November 1994.  On this historic date Pope John Paul II offers the following to the Assyrian delegation:  "Your Holiness and Beloved Brothers: here then is the spirit in which the Catholic Church proposes this exchange of gifts. Together let us ask the Most Holy Trinity, Model of true Unity within diversity, to strengthen our hearts so that we will respond to the call for one visible Church of God, a Church truly
universal and sent forth to the whole world, that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God. May God who has begun this good work in us bring it to completion in Christ Jesus (cf. Phil 1:6). "

John Paul II spoke fervently against the economic sanctions imposed on the people of Iraq in the 1990's and the two wars against Iraq led by the U.S. and British forces.

At the millennium he was quite dismayed when his dream of visiting the land of Abraham and the homeland of the Iraqi Christians was shattered when the security concerns prevented his trip to Iraq in 2000.

Pope John Paul II's inspirational work to bring unity between his Church and the Oriental Churches, and saving the lives of many victims of the sanctions against Iraqi people are profound testaments to his Catholic pontiff's legacy as a model of Christian leadership.

For the Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East click here. For more information on Vatican's Guidelines for admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church
and the Assyrian Church of the East click here.

Pascale Warda Represents Iraqi Government at Pope's Funeral in Vatican

(ZNDA: Rome)  Ms. Pascale Warda, the Iraqi Minister for Immigration & Displacement and an Assyrian, represented the current Iraqi government at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Vatican on Friday.

The state-run al-Iraqiyah television broadcast funeral live.

Minister Warda was standing next to the state representatives nearest to the cypress coffin in which the Holy Father's body rested until his final burial in the St. Peter's Cathedral.

Minister Warda briefly met with UN Secretary General Mr Kofi Anan and discussed the Iraqi elections and the role of the UN in these elections.  Minister Warda commented yesterday to Zinda Magazine that in her brief encounter she also asked Mr. Anan to "truly be present in Iraq and to change the electoral system for the coming elections."   Minister Warda believes that the absence of UN as observers in the January 30th elections was a mistake which led to the injustices committed against the smaller ethnic minorities.

Minister Pascale Warda represented interim Iraqi govt at the funeral for Pope John Paul II.

Mr. Anan promised Minister Warda to work on this issue and thanked her for bringing this matter to his attention.

Minister Warda also met with President Chirac of France and his wife.  Mrs. Chirac invited Ms Warda to the Elise Palace for a visit.  Minister Warda speaks French fluently.

In another encounter, Minister Warda met the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who was accompanied by his wife. Minister Warda and President Assad discussed ways to assist in the process of democratization of Iraq. President Assad congratulated Minister Warda on the formation of the new government in Iraq expressed his joy for the Iraqi people.  Minister Warda noted to Zinda Magazine that President Assad asked that the government and people of Iraq to help prevent the emigration of Christians from Iraq as "they are one of the best facets of Iraqi society."  President Assad concluded his remarks by stating that he supports the Iraqi people.

Minister Warda then met with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Prime Minister, who congratulated Ms. Warda on the election of a Kurdish president.  Minister Warda responded to Mr. Abbas' congratulatory note by stating that the election of a Kurdish president was an affirmation of a new democratic Iraq, where perhaps one day even a Christian can lead her country.  Mr. Abbas expressed his positive feelings for the Iraqi people and was asked to provide the people of Iraq with moral support during these difficult times.

Minister Warda also met with the Moroccan and Indonesian delegations and asked the latter to provide greater assistance for the Iraqi refugees stranded in Indonesia.  Minister Warda was then invited to Indonesia to see first hand the treatment of the Iraqi refugees in that country.

Minister Warda also met with Mar Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East and Mar Bawai Soro, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Christians, Muslim Leaders in Iraq Attend Services for Pope John Paul II

Courtesy of Voice of America
7 April 2005
By Scott Bobb

Chaldean Patriarch Immanuel Delli presides over mass for John Paul II (photo by S. Bobb).

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  In Iraq, members of the Christian minority held a memorial Mass, which was attended by senior leaders of the Muslim community.

Nearly 1,000 mourners gathered under the late afternoon sun Thursday at St. Joseph's Chaldean church, home to some 2,000 families in Baghdad that follow this branch of the Catholic Church.

The mourners sang hymns, then listened as the Chaldean Bishop of Baghdad, Andreas Abouna, delivered the eulogy.

The Chaldean patriarch of Iraq, Immanuel Delli, noted that the pope several years ago planned to visit Iraq, the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, as part of his pilgrimage to the Middle East. But he said the visit was canceled because of the international confrontation with then-president Saddam Hussein.

Bishop Andreas praised the late pontiff as a man of peace and an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

St. Joseph's church was under heavy guard (photo by S. Bobb).

Patriarch Immanuel said the pope loved Iraq and Iraqis and he always prayed for us. Now, he said, we are praying for him.

Muslim leaders underscored ancient ties between the two religions by attending the mass.

Christians in Iraq number less than one million people, or five percent of the population. Historically, they have lived peacefully with the other religions.

However, their community has not been spared the fallout from the recent war that ousted Saddam Hussein. St. Joseph's Cathedral was one of five churches that were bombed six months ago by unknown attackers. Scores of security officers were on duty during Thursday's Mass.

Christian and Muslim leaders embrace after mass (photo by S. Bobb).

The Mass was also attended by a half-dozen Muslim clerics representing Iraq's senior Muslim leadership. One of these, Saed Hadi Jazaari, said the imams came to offer condolences to their Christian brothers over the death of a great pope.

He said the pope, for Muslims, represented peace, peaceful dialogue between civilizations and between the religions.

Bishop Abouna said the presence of the Muslim clerics was evidence of ancient ties that go back to the era of the Prophet Mohammed.

"We have great and very wonderful relations with the Muslims and not only from now, from the past," said Bishop Abouna. "Christian history is very deep in Iraq and relations [with Muslims] are deep, same as the religion."

The ceremony ended with the celebration of communion and recitations from the ancient Chaldean liturgy. Then as mourners filed out into the setting sun, the priests embraced their Muslim guests, exchanging blessings.

Pope John Paul II Remembered in Iran

Bishop James Harvey welcomes Iranian President Mohammad Khatami before the funeral of Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square at the Vatican City. The presidents of arch-foes Israel and Iran during the requiem mass exchanged words in Farsi yesterday.  Israeli president was born in Iran.  .(AFP/Patrick Hertzog)

(ZNDA:  Tehran)  Several thousand faithful crammed into Tehran's small brick-built Saint Joseph's Cathedral to hear the Chaldean Catholic Bishop Ramzi Garmo remember John Paul II's commitment to "peace and dialogue between the civilizations and religions."

Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel attended the memorial service and said he had decided to attend the service as a "sign of the Iranian people's sympathy with their Catholic compatriots."

Iran counts some 10,000 Catholics among a Christian community of 80,000, a tiny minority in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 67 million people.

Assyrian member of the Majlis (parliament), Mr. Yonatan Bet-Kolia, attended Friday's mass along with Iran's chief rabbi, Yusef Cohen Hamedani, and Jewish MP Maurice Motamed.

In a brief interview with the reporters, Haddad Adel said that the world today needs peace and justice more than anything else, notifying that the real basis for peace and justice is believing in God and the Resurrection Day.

He also said that that basis is common among followers of all monotheist religions and that consolidations among followers of various true religions would lead to prevalence of peace, justice and freedom throughout the world.

Concerning the character of the late Pope John Paul II, the world Catholics' leader, Haddad Adel reminded "We respect his grave efforts aimed at promotion of peace and justice in the world."

The parliament speaker stressed that all religious minorities in he country are fully respected and speaker that the minorities have been living peacefully with their Muslim fellow citizens for centuries in Iran.

Latest News from Assyrians in Jordan

By Toma Rowel Youkhana

(ZNDA:  Amman)  Hundreds of Assyrian students have completed their language courses taught by Assyrian volunteers in Amman.  Through the financial support of the Assyrian bishop, Mar Bawai Soro in California and his churches in California, and many other donors more than 350 students have also completed the basic computer skills course.  With the donations from the Assyrians in the United Arab Emirates seven personal computers were arranged for instruction.

Students learning Assyrian language and computer skills in a school in Jordan.  Photo by T.R. Youkhana.

Currently there are 300 families in Amman and 70 students in the Assyrian school

Establishing a similar school in Damascus, Syria began three months ago to teach Assyrian and English languages.  There are over 700 Assyrian families in Damascus who left Syria.  Today 45 students study in this school.  More computers will be needed to teach PC skills as arranged in Amman.

Sadly the Assyrian Church of the East has not been able to arrange services for the community in Amman.  This service is currently provided by the Syrian Orthodox Church by Rev. Emanuel supported by a Church of the East deacon, Shamasha Odisho.

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV placed Bishop Narsai in Lebanon, during his visit to Amman some four years ago, in charge of the Assyrian community in Amman?   Since then Mar Narsai has visited Amman only once..

In Syria Assyrians are served by the Roman Catholic Church in Damascus.  For special events priests from the Syrian Orthodox Church make themselves available from the city of Qamishly.

Bishop Aprim in Syria does have many priests serving the Assyrian people in north Syria, a distance of one hour plane ride from Damascus, a trip that would cost the church $US 25.

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News Digest
News From Around the World

Dr. Taimoorazy Named Illinois Physician of the Year

Juliana Taimoorazy

Dr. Benjamin Taimoorazy (L) was honored as the 2004 Physician of the Year by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Benjamin Taimoorazy, M.D., was recently honored by National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Physician Advisory Board as one of the 2004 Physicians of the Year. The list recognizes the top U.S. leaders in the medical community who have successfully integrated business and financial success with the support of Republican ideals. His nomination recognized his outstanding leadership and entrepreneurial spirit. Approximately 500 physicians were on this prestigious list.

Dr. Taimoorazy accepted the award from Brian Walsch, a representative from the office of Congressman Tom Reynolds, Republican Congressman from New York and current chairman of the NRCC, at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. held March 14, 2005. The next evening, March 15, Dr. Taimoorazy, accompanied by his wife, Ramica, attended the NRCC Yearly March dinner celebrating the Republican Majority. President George W. Bush accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Laura Bush, was the keynote speaker for the event, held at the Washington Hilton.

“It was such an honor to be there in the presence of the President, the Congressman and the many Americans who, like myself, are humbled by this recognition.” Stated Dr. Taimoorazy. NRCC officials said more than 3,000 people attended the dinner. Singer Patti Labelle sang the national anthem a cappella, and the singing duo Peaches & Herb was lined up for after-dinner entertainment.

Dr. Taimoorazy is an anesthesiologist and president of Anesthesiology Consultants, based at Bromenn Regional Medical Center. He earned his medical degree from University of Tehran, Iran before entering his residency at Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, where he was chief resident from 1994-1995. He received the Robert D. Dripps award for outstanding graduate-resident in Anesthesiology. Dr. Taimoorazy has publications in the Journal of Anesthesiology, as well as Abstract presentations in the Journal of Society of Neurological Anesthesiology and Critical Care. Dr. Taimoorazy invented an airway management devise, the patent for which is pending.

He continues the tradition of excellence in his family. He is the grandson of well known late Dr. Benyamin Taimoorazy (Hakeem Benyamin) and late Professor Lily Taimoorazy, mother of the ’Assyrian folk dance’. Late Hakeem Benyamin a prominent physician, who earned his medical degree from University of Moscow, became a Surgeon General for Azerbaijan province in northwestern part of Iran. Dr. Taimoorazy has inherited the authorship skills from his grandfather, late KaKoo Youkhana Oshana, a well known author of romantic literature and his late wife, Sierra who embroidered the Assyrian flag which is currently representing the Assyrian heritage at the United Nations headquarter in New York.

Dr. Taimoorazy’s parents currently reside in Bloomington, Illinois. His Father, Tamraz, a surveyor, has played a key role in erecting numerous vital Iranian air force monuments, namely a unique air force base in Hamden, a state of the art air force hospital, and the Queen Farah Sports Stadium in Tehran, Iran. His mother Atlantida’s Persian miniature artwork is due to be displayed for public viewing at the Mclean County Art Center in Bloomington. Two sisters of Dr. Taimoorazy, Liliana, obtained her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University (ISU) in the field of Information Technology and is currently a successful realtor, and his youngest sister, Juliana, obtained her master’s degree from Northeaster University in Instructional Design and is currently the owner of the North Shore Center for Body Contouring Medical Spa in Northfield, Ilinois.

Dr. Taimoorazy is married to Ramica, the daughter of Issa Benyamin and Clara Manasserian. Issa Benyamin is a well known pioneer of the Assyrian Calligraphy whose artwork has been displayed in numerous national and international venues. Clara is the daughter of Alexan and Nanajon Manasserian who were the first entrepreneurs in Urmia, Iran. Dr. Taimoorazy and Ramica are blessed with two daughters, Tiffany who is 9 and Nicole who is 8.


In Iraq, Thanks for Man who Gave Help and Hope

Courtesy of the Washington Post
9 April 2005

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  In a city where churches have been bombed by Muslim insurgents and Christians are an imperilled minority, several hundred Catholics gathered at St Joseph's Chaldean Church to attend a special Mass for the Pope.

Under a late afternoon sun on Thursday, the worshippers passed through a protective cordon of red-bereted soldiers from the newly trained, mostly Muslim, Iraqi army. Inside, amid air smoky with incense, a tearful congregation recalled the Polish man who had given help and hope to Iraq's dwindling Christian population.

"The Pope won the hearts of everybody because he worked for the good of all," said Patriarch Emmanuel Delly, the head of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church. John Paul's death "was a loss not only for Iraqi Catholics and Christians but indeed it was a loss for the whole world".

Patriarch Delly celebrated the Arabic-language Mass with the heads of three other Catholic communities - Latin, Armenian and Syrian - and a representative of the papal nuncio's office.

In a show of solidarity, five Shiites, including a cleric from Iran, also attended.

"It is a big honour to come here and join our friends and brothers at this service," said the Iranian, Ali Akbar Hakim.

"John Paul II has been very close to Iraqis," Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad's Roman Catholic, or Latin, community said in an interview this week. "Christians need a protector, or father, someone who protects them, and I think the Pope is one who protected them."

John Paul opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and criticised the US-inspired UN sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Archbishop Sleiman and Patriarch Delly recalled the Pope's disappointment at not being able to visit Iraq in 1999.

"Officially, the regime said it couldn't protect him," Archbishop Sleiman said, adding that he thought Saddam Hussein had been "afraid the Pope would have more crowds than him".

Many in the congregation said it was a service they could not miss, despite the violence that makes travel risky in the Iraqi capital.

"If I die, I will die here in the church with Jesus," said one woman. "When you have a soul of faith, it kills every fear inside your body."

Iraqi soldiers in utility trucks were stationed several blocks from the church in all directions, searching cars, asking for ID cards and politely asking anyone not going to the service to take an alternative route.

Iraq has an estimated 800,000 Christians, but another 300,000 had emigrated since 1991, said Yonadam Kanna, one of six Christians elected to Iraq's new National Assembly.

Archbishop Sleiman said his Catholic community had 60,000 members before the 1991 Gulf War; now it has about 5000.

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Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor

Surprised and…Disappointed!

Ekrem Kas

I am a fervent reader of Zinda. Usually I agree with the choice of the articles. This week, I don’t!

I am disappointed that Zinda didn’t talk enough about the death of Pope John Paul II. I don’t understand this editorial choice.

The Pope is the supreme spiritual authority of a majority of our nation so his death is something we have to be concerned.

The minimum should have been to write about the action of the Pope to restore links between our Churches (Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church).

One of the Best

Zaya Toma

You're not only one of the best Assyrian media outlets, but one of the best media outlets of any community! I hope in 10 years you guys are publishing a newspaper that Assyrians around the world can buy at their local milk bar or news agency.  This is one of the best issues yet!

The Bishop or the Pawn?

Ashuriena-Gozal E. Baba

Bishop Sarhad Jammo was quoted in regards to Assyrians from Iran, Iraq, and Syria and I would like to respond to this messenger of God.

With all due respect to him, here are some quotes from the Bible to refresh this bishop’s memory on what Christianity really teaches us:

I urge you brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. - 1 Corinthians 2:10

Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”…But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. - 1 Corinthians 12:14-21, 24-26

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.- Philippians 2:1-2

As a Christian leader, I would think that Bishop Jammo would think twice of his annotations after understanding the Bible’s stance on division of people.

Throughout our times, we have seen Christian figures, like the late Pope John Paul II, who have united nations across the globe. The Pope, himself, united the Polish nation against the Communist regime. Bishop Makarios of Cyprus united his people against Turkish invasion. Al-Sistani united the Shi’ites to elect their representatives in the recent Iraqi elections.

It is the responsibility of people like Bishop Jammo to unite the people through the power of their religious stance. Unfortunately, however, his recent annotations have proven to breed greater division amongst our already lacerated nation.

In the game of chess, we learn that the Bishop is only allowed to move diagonally according to the color he is placed on and he must continue on that color for the rest of the match. However, this pawn of a move that the Bishop has committed is an error in the game and in reality. Pawns are known to move on both the colors interchangeably, but the Bishop is strictly permitted only to stay on his own respective color. You cannot jump over the other squares on the chess board because they are all apart of the game. In that same way, Bishop Jammo cannot skip over the Assyrians from Iran and Syria by simply disregarding them and slapping a saliva-dripping label on them as having “different agendas”? What different agendas? How has this “theory” been formulated?

Tony Alahverdi
Just Click My Picture
600 E. Main St. #300
Turlock, CA 95380


Assyrians from Iran started nationalistic Assyrian literature and poetry for over 70 years in Iran. They never discussed matters regarding Iran, but discussed Assyrianism and the role it played in their lives. With this being known, how are Assyrians from Iran any different from those in Iraq? Going back to the middle Bible quote, we are all from the same body.

The bishop stated that Assyrians from Iran are not part of Bet-Nahrain. Oh really? It was Sargon II, who marched in the direction of Lake Urmia and crossed the country of Zikirtu. “After reaching Lake Urmia he turned east and entered Zikirtu and Andia on the Caspian slopes of the Caucasus. When news reached him that king Rusas I of Urartu (730-713 BC) was moving against him, he turned back to Lake Urmia in forced marches and defeated an Urartian army in a steep valley of the Uaush (probably the Sahend, east of Lake Urmia, or further to the South, in Mannean country), a steep mountain that reached the clouds and whose flanks were covered by snow.” (Reference)

As I’ve mentioned before, my father’s nine years in the Assyrian Aid Society had a majority of Assyrians from Iran donating money to the Los Angeles Chapter, which then sent them to Northern Iraq. Thousands and thousands of dollars were donated to Iraq. This bishop should simply look at California alone and realize that Assyrians from Iran have done a great deal for this nation, including financially supporting those in Iraq to maintain our identity. For example, Mrs. Jacklyn Bejan, an Assyrian from Iran, went to Iraq to build a daycare center for Assyrian children by donating thousands and thousands of dollars. Even here, in Los Angeles, Ms. Shamiram Tabar and the rest of the AAASC donated $20,000+ to the Assyrian Aid Society that sent the money directly to Northern Iraq. Ms. Madlen Zango threw a fundraiser for Mr. Yonadam Kanna to raise thousands of dollars in support of Zowaa. These respectable Assyrian females born in Iran have donated time and money along with great heaps of support to Assyrians from Iraq without thinking twice as to the difference in territories.

Does Bishop Jammo not remember when Assyrians from Iraq were fleeing the country to Syria during the Semele Massacre? Are these people any different from those in Iraq? It was those people who were fighting against the Iraqi regime for the Assyrian cause. Do these people not deserve recognition? Was their blood shed for no purpose at all?

Remember the Ethiopian Jews that were accepted into the nation of Israel and recognized as part of the Jewish nation even though they were only Jews by faith? Assyrians from Iran and Syria are not just of the same religion, but of the same blood as Assyrians from Iraq, so why is Bishop Jammo trying to enforce a division between this one nation?

Pertaining to the dialect of Assyrians from different regions, I ask Bishop Jammo this: Do Americans, who speak various dialects ranging from the East to West not belong to the same United States of America simply because one says, “pop” and the other says, “soda”?

We all speak the same language. We all read the same writing. We are all parts of the same body. We are all one.

I dislike such annotations of division, but I forgive Bishop Jammo and people like him because like Jesus said when he was being crucified, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

Better to Remain Silent on Nationalistic Issues

S. Sargon Elia

I read and re-read the speech of His Grace Mar Sarhad Jammo given on February 24th in San Diego California. Since I am not sure what was the original language of his speech, even allowing for some translation problems, His Graces speech was not only illogical but was wroth with misrepresentations and inaccuracies.

Although Mar Sarhad Jammo’s comments regarding our various dialects are absolutely ludicrous, it warrants a response if only to illuminate His Grace. Linguists agree that our Language, for the sake of clarity I’ll refer to it as Syriac, consists of approximately 30% Akkadian words, 42% Aramaic words and 18% foreign words i.e. Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish and Turkish.

They have also recognized two major dialects, the Eastern Syriac Dialect, spoken mostly in Iran and Iraq, and the Western Syriac Dialect spoken in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. Any language is a living, growing, changing instrument of expression. It is normal and natural for a language to change from region to region acquiring its own unique flavor. As His Grace is very well aware our Nation has been segregated and divided through sectarian power plays. There was a time in the 20th century that Catholics were threatened with excommunication, and barred from the Holy Eucharist, for entering a Nestorian church. And i
f you dared to enter a Protestant church you’d be condemned to hell. It is a testament to the intelligence, tenacity and even unity of our people that the church’s anathemas were largely ignored. Subsequently the Catholic church recognized its erroneous, if not idiotic, behavior towards other Christians. I have digressed to give a broader view of the language situation.

Because of these sectarian divisions imposed on us by the clergy, over the centuries our people avoided other sects for fear of “going to hell” and therefore were not use to hearing the beautiful diversity of our language. His Grace has wrongly associated this situation for yet another irrational and baseless reason to separate the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Nation. One fact is unmistakable, our language is the same in its written form in any dialect. For example, the word year is written as “shintha” it is pronounced as “sha-tha, shee-at, shentha, or shathoo”, all these pronunciations are valid because
they refer to the same thing, a year. And once you have heard the different pronunciations at a church, wedding or social activity it is understood by all. The different accents and pronunciations are not an obstacle to our ancestry or our unity.

By His Grace’s logic a Creole speaking person from Louisiana, a Texan, a Californian and someone from Vermont can not possibly be considered of one umtha, an American, because they don’t speak with the same accent, they don’t have the same sentence structure or syntax or use the same words. The people of Lyon France have a different accent and speech pattern than those in Paris or Marseilles or even Cannes, yet they’re all considered French. This concept is known as Unity in Diversity and Diversity in Unity. All the points which Mar Jammo interprets as negative dividing factors are a in-fact a cohesive bond of our Nation.

Breaking Through Barriers of What Assyrian Music is and Should Be

Click Poster to Enter A New Dimension in Assyrian Music

His Grace is correct in stating that a nation is not just a people speaking the same language. A Nation constitutes a group of people speaking a common language, having a common religion, economic life, common ancestry, ethnicity, food, history, common values, common moral ethics and a common goal. All of these attributes of nationhood are possessed by the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Nation.

On the issue of a nationality, the countries of Iraq and Iran did not exist prior the 19th century, but Assyrians/ Chaldeans/ Syriac Nation did. Iraq was a territory of The Ottoman Empire with ambiguous borders. His Grace is wrong in stating that one from Urmia has a connection to Iran only and not to Beth-Nahrain. Urmia, Salaams, Khoi, Sanandaj, Sena etc. have had centuries of ecclesiastic, liturgical, linguistic and cultural connections with Beth Nahrain which continues to this day. His Grace should read A History of Christianity in Asia Volume I & II by Samuel Hugh Moffett. Also the bonds of the Assyrian/ Chaldean/ Syriac Nation transcends all boundaries.

Why does His Grace fight so ravenously for a distinct “Chaldean” identity, separate from the Assyrians? I can assure him its not for the sake of unity. Even His Beatitude, the late Mar Raphael I Bidawid, Patriarch of Babylon, asserted that Chaldean are Assyrians by nationality.

This confusion of names Suryaye as referring to all Christians is only among some clergy of the Chaldean Catholic church. It is clear even to a child that a Polish Christian is a M’shekhaya and not a Suyraya. Again an American Christian is not referred to as a Suryaya but as a M’shekhaya or Kristyana Amrecaya.

“We should have had 12 to 15 seats but got one. Of course, we have five more but those were not won through our own power. "Something is wrong … big time wrong," said the bishop. His Grace added: "I am first to blame … I did not vote." He asked: "Why is that"? He answered: Because there was not available any slate that attracted or convinced me. He continued, I think that is why most of Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Suryaye did not vote“.

So His Grace is saying he as a good Christian as a prelate of the Chaldean Catholics in the western United States, a man of learning, an intelligence man, a man with a PhD, preferred to curse the darkness rather than light even a single candle!

If His Grace was so disappointed with the outcome of the Iraqi elections and admittedly states that we the Assyrians/ Chaldean/ Syriacs should have had “… 12 to 15 seats but got only one.” a question arises, did His Grace encourage his congregations to vote? Did His Grace ensure that his congregations in San Diego, North Hollywood, Orange County, San Jose, Turlock or Arizona were mobilized to vote? Did His Grace encourage, by his example or speech, any participation in the new Iraqi elections? Or did he prefer to sit in the darkness of his ignorance. At the very least did His Grace encourage his followers to vote as a united front in order to receive more seats in the Iraqi assembly? His Grace failed both as a spiritual leader, (I must add here that his sin of apathy weighs more heavily on his soul because he has received ordination and has received “Dar-ghee” than on an ordinary person) and as a nationalistic leader to do the ethical thing. Unfortunately, and this must b e said in no uncertain terms, to his utter shame Bishop Mar Jammo behaved like an ordinary person unaware of his ethical, moral, spiritual or human duties. In religious terms, the Gospels, the Church Fathers and theologians compel Christians to strive for peace, harmony and unity in their own communities and in the world. This responsibility is doubly so for secular leaders and seven fold for our church leaders.

I, as a Catholic, am embarrassed by the arrogantly ignorant pontifications of His Grace on serious issues facing our Nation. It is better that His Grace remain silent on nationalistic issues and be suspect of being a fool, than to open his mouth and remove all doubt.

I pray Mar Sarhad Jammo may be blessed with a long and healthy life to personally witness the unity of the Assyrian/ Chaldean/ Syriac Nation despite the shenanigans of some of its clergy.

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Surfer's Corner
Community Events

Assyrian Spring Music Festival 2005


Strategic Entertainment Proudly Presents: 

The Assyrian Spring Music Festival 2005

Saturday, 23 April

Ramada Hotel
17017 W. 9 Mile Road
Southfield, Michigan

Entertainment provided by Linda George, Ramsen Sheeno, and Ameed Asmero.

Tickets: $25 in advance, $35 at door. Kids 12 and under $15.

Cash bar and cash dinner available.


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Editor's Pick

My Visit to Zowaa Camp in Baghdad

Youbert Nissan

My friend, John, and I visited the Assyrian Democratic Movement's headquarters in Baghdad to congratulate Mr. Younadam Kanna on the occasion of Easter.  We met several people, but Mr. Younadam was not present. 

I met a few friends at the "Zowaa Camp", a huge place, around ten acres in size.  It was previously Saddam Hussein's Fidaeyeen' Camp.

Everywhere we went the Assyrian Flag and the Assyrian bodyguards were present.  John and I sat in the hall where many other visitors were also present to visit the Camp.  We took a tour and witnessed the construction of the building facilities initiated by Mr. Kanna and other Zowaa members with the help of the Assyrian engineers.  These include a large hall, a school and a place for women to gather and work.

I toured with some Zowaa members who accompanied me and saw the Assyrian TV and radio station, and the ‘Bahra’ newspaper office. Bahra is published every week in the Assyrian and Arabic languages. 

I was so proud to see the Assyrian bodyguards, feeling as if I was standing on the Assyrian soil.  It truly felt great.  I also saw many women coming and meeting their families who are guarding the Camp, many children and men in the camp were celebrating the Easter.  Anyone witnessing this and all that took place around us would also shed tears of happiness.

People here love and respect Mr. Younadam Kanna and they say that their lifetime they had never had a leader as him.  They told me that our leaders were always foreigners, but now we have a leader from among ourselves.  He has helped us raise our beloved flag, establish our beloved Ashur TV, Bahra newspaper, and a radio station.

Younadam Kanna has also begun building a huge hall for the Assyrian youth and a daycare for the elderly. 

Just imagine my watching Ashur TV and the listening to the Assyrian news from around the world.  I was so elated to find myself here.

When I was inside the Camp everything looked Assyrian to me:  the people inside the camp coming to greet the bodyguards and meeting each other, no foreign language used, all pure ASSYRIAN.

I work for an American construction company which is publishing an advertisement in local TVs about its activities. I saw two names, al-Iraqiyah TV, and the al-Hurra TV.  My company was going to pay $US 720 for advertisement to each station.  So I added Ashur TV to that list and sent the same amount to Ashur TV that operates in Baghdad.

Our company's driver who took the money to each television station came back and told me:  "Mr. Nissan, at Ashur TV everyone was Assyrian and they were especially very nice people."  I told him that was the reason why I sent the advertising money to them too.

During my tour in the camp I met someone who asked about my identity.  I asked why and he said he had received a check for 720 dollars and your name was on accompanying letter.  He thanked me for that.  I told him that this is just the beginning, because we will cooperate, and you need a lot more support.  I told him that we we are here to do as much as we can.  The two hours I spend at the Camp felt as though I was in a dream, not believing my own eyes, the things I saw and the things I experienced.

It is very unusual to walk in the streets of Baghdad and stop by a newspaper stand and suddenly you see an Assyrian newspaper written in both languages, Arabic and Assyrian.   How did this happen and when did we ever have this?  Never!

Bahra newspaper is sold as any other newspaper in Iraq.  Who did this and how?  I bought four copies and took them to my office and started choosing some of the articles that I enjoyed seeing and here they are, sending them to you just to enjoy my happiness, as I am not selfish to enjoy it by myself.

I want others to enjoy this occasion with me also. It is hard to explain, but these guys in Zowaa insist they work and do the job for our nation. God Bless them!   I am very lucky to see it as an eyewitness, seeing those Assyrian guards guarding the facilities, you just want to hug them, all young boys with energy and belief in what they are doing. God Bless them and give them His mercy, keep them and guard them as they serve OUR PEOPLE and the flag.   The Great Assyrian flag that is waving and swinging when the wind touches it and where?  In Baghdad, and at the entrance of the Zowaa Camp.

What amazing scenery!  What an amazing dream coming true!

God bless whoever did this and brought this happiness to me and to all those that have witnessed it. Amen.

Church of Martyrs

Anthony Browne
The Spectator
26 March 2005

For most citizens of Iraq, the invasion meant the end of tyranny. For one group, however, it meant a new start: the country’s historic Christian community. When the war stopped, persecution by Islamists, held in check by Saddam, started.

At a church in Basra I visited a month after the war ended, the women complained of attacks against them for not wearing the Islamic veil. I saw many Christian-owned shops that had been firebombed, with many of the owners killed for exercising their legal right to sell alcohol. Two years and many church attacks later, Iraq may still be occupied by Christian foreign powers, but the Islamist plan to ethnically cleanse Iraq of its nearly 2,000-year-old Assyrian and Armenian Christian communities is reaching fruition.

There is nothing unusual about the persecution of Iraqi Christians, or the unwillingness of other Christians to help them. Rising nationalism and fundamentalism around the world have meant that Christianity is going back to its roots as the religion of the persecuted. There are now more than 300 million Christians who are either threatened with violence or legally discriminated against simply because of their faith — more than any other religion. Christians are no longer, as far as I am aware, thrown to the lions. But from China, North Korea and Malaysia, through India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, they are subjected to legalized discrimination, violence, imprisonment, relocation and forced conversion. Even in supposedly Christian Europe, Christianity has become the most mocked religion, its followers treated with public suspicion and derision and sometimes — such as the would-be EU commissioner Rocco Buttiglione — hounded out of political office.

I am no Christian, but rather a godless atheist whose soul doesn’t want to be saved, thank you. I may not believe in the man with the white beard, but I do believe that all persecution is wrong. The trouble is that the trendies who normally champion human rights seem to think persecution is fine, so long as it’s only against Christians. While Muslims openly help other Muslims, Christians helping Christians has become as taboo as jingoistic nationalism.

On the face of it, the idea of Christians facing serious persecution seems as far-fetched as a carpenter saving humanity. Christianity is the world’s most followed religion, with two billion believers, and by far its most powerful. It is the most popular faith in six of the seven continents, and in both of the world’s two biggest economies, the US and Europe. Seven of the G8 richest industrial nations are majority Christian, as are four out of five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The cheek-turners control the vast majority of the world’s weapons of mass destruction.

When I bumped into George Bush in the breakfast room of the US embassy in Brussels last month, standing right behind me were two men in uniform carrying the little black ‘nuclear football’, containing the codes to enable the world’s most powerful Christian to unleash the world’s most powerful nuclear arsenal. Christians claiming persecution seem as credible as Bill Gates pleading poverty. But just as Christian-majority armies control Iraq as it ethnically cleanses itself of its Christian community, so the power of Christian countries is of little help to the Christian persecuted where most Christians now live: the Third World.

Across the Islamic world, Christians are systematically discriminated against and persecuted. Saudi Arabia — the global fountain of religious bigotry — bans churches, public Christian worship, the Bible and the sale of Christmas cards, and stops non-Muslims from entering Mecca. Christians are regularly imprisoned and tortured on trumped-up charges of drinking, blaspheming or Bible-bashing, as some British citizens have found. Just last month, furthermore, Saudi Arabia announced that only Muslims can become citizens.

The Copts of Egypt make up half the Christians in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity. They inhabited the land before the Islamic conquest, and still make up a fifth of the population. By law they are banned from being president of the Islamic Republic of Egypt or attending Al Azhar University, and severely restricted from joining the police and army. By practice they are banned from holding any high political or commercial position. Under the 19th-century Hamayouni decrees, Copts must get permission from the president to build or repair churches — but he usually refuses. Mosques face no such controls.

Government-controlled TV broadcasts anti-Copt propaganda, while giving no airtime to Copts. It is illegal for Muslims to convert to Christianity, but legal for Christians to convert to Islam. Christian girls — and even the wives of Christian priests — are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam, recently prompting mass demonstrations. A report by Freedom House in Washington concludes: ‘The cumulative effect of these threats creates an atmosphere of persecution and raises fears that during the 21st century the Copts may have a vastly diminished presence in their homelands.’

Fr Drew Christiansen, an adviser to the US Conference of Bishops, recently conducted a study which stated that ‘all over the Middle East, Christians are under pressure. “The cradle of Christianity” is under enormous pressure from demographic decline, the growth of Islamic militancy, official and unofficial discrimination, the Iraq war, the Palestinian Intifada, failed peace policies and political manipulation.’

In the world’s most economically successful Muslim nation, Malaysia, the world’s only deliberate affirmative action programme for a majority population ensures that Muslims are given better access to jobs, housing and education. In the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, some 10,000 Christians have been killed in the last few years by Muslims trying to Islamify the Moluccas.

In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, most of the five million Christians live as an underclass, doing work such as toilet-cleaning. Under the Hudood ordinances, a Muslim can testify against a non-Muslim in court, but a non-Muslim cannot testify against a Muslim. Blasphemy laws are abused to persecute Christians. In the last few years, dozens of Christians have been killed in bomb and gun attacks on churches and Christian schools.

In Nigeria, 12 states have introduced Sharia law, which affects Christians as much as Muslims. Christian girls are forced to wear the Islamic veil at school, and Christians are banned from drinking alcohol. Thousands of Christians have been killed in the last few years in the ensuing violence.

Although persecution of Christians is greatest in Muslim countries, it happens in countries of all religions and none. In Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, religious tension led to 44 churches being attacked in the first four months of 2004, with 140 churches being forced to close because of intimidation. In India, the rise of Hindu nationalism has lead to persecution not just of Muslims but of Christians. There have been hundreds of attacks against the Christian community, which has been in India since ad 100. The government’s affirmative action programme for untouchables guarantees jobs and loans for poor Hindus and Buddhists, but not for Christians.

Last year in China, which has about 70 million Christians, more than 100 ‘house churches’ were closed down, and dozens of priests imprisoned. If you join the Communist party, you get special privileges, but you can only join if you are atheist. In North Korea, Christians are persecuted as anti-communist elements, and dissidents claim they are not just imprisoned but used in chemical warfare experiments.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Barnabas Trust, which helps persecuted Christians, blames rising global religious tension. ‘More and more Christians are seen as the odd ones out — they are seen as transplants from the West, and not really trusted. It is getting very much worse.’

Even in what was, before multiculturalism, known as Christendom, Christians are persecuted. I have spoken to dozens of former Muslims who have converted to Christianity in Britain, and who are shunned by their community, subjected to mob violence, forced out of town, threatened with death and even kidnapped. The Barnabas Trust knows of 3,000 such Christians facing persecution in this country, but the police and government do nothing.

You get the gist. Dr Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Centre for Religious Freedom in Washington, estimates that there are 200 million Christians who face violence because of their faith, and 350 million who face legally sanctioned discrimination in terms of access to jobs and housing. The World Evangelical Alliance wrote in a report to the UN Human Rights Commission last year that Christians are ‘the largest single group in the world which is being denied human rights on the basis of their faith’.

Part of the problem is old-style racism against non-whites; part of it is new-style guilt. If all this were happening to the world’s Sikhs or Muslims simply because of their faith, you can be sure it would lead the 10 O’Clock News and the front page of the Guardian on a regular basis. But the BBC, despite being mainly funded by Christians, is an organisation that promotes ridicule of the Bible, while banning criticism of the Koran. Dr Marshall said: ‘Christians are seen as Europeans and Americans, which means you get a lack of sympathy which you would not get if they were Tibetan Buddhists.’

Christians themselves are partly to blame for all this. Some get a masochistic kick out of being persecuted, believing it brings them closer to Jesus, crucified for His beliefs. Christianity uniquely defines itself by its persecution, and its forgiveness of its persecutors: the Christian symbol is the method of execution of its founder. Christianity was a persecuted religion for its first three centuries, until Emperor Constantine decided that worshipping Jesus was better for winning battles than worshipping the sun. In contrast, Mohammed was a soldier and ruler who led his people into victorious battle against their enemies. In the hundred years after the death of Mohammed, Islam conquered and converted most of North Africa and the Middle East in the most remarkable religious expansion in history.

To this day, while Muslims stick up for their co-religionists, Christians — beyond a few charities — have given up such forms of discrimination. Dr Sookhdeo said: ‘The Muslims have an Ummah [the worldwide Muslim community] whereas Christians do not have Christendom. There is no Christian country that says, “We are Christian and we will help Christians.”’

As a liberal democrat atheist, I believe all persecuted people should be helped equally, irrespective of their religion. But the guilt-ridden West is ignoring people because of their religion. If non-Christians like me can sense the nonsense, how does it make Christians feel? And how are they going to react? The Christophobes worried about rising Christian fundamentalism in Britain should understand that it is a reaction to our double standards. And as long as our double standards exist, Christian fundamentalism will grow.

[Zinda:  Mr. Anthony Browne is Europe correspondent of the Times of London].

The Islamic Republic Of Iraq - Who Speaks for the People!

Rev. Ken Joseph

In the midst of the joy over an Iraqi government finally in place a word of caution!

As an Assyrian Christian, the indigenous people of Iraq we are extremely concerned for the future of Iraq. What has particularly bothered me is all the people who seem to always speak for the People!

First, was the election. In contrast to what is generally presented, it was not a "free and fair" election. Previous to the Election the Iraqi Government estimated from one to three million Iranians that had streamed across the border, many to illegally vote - of course for the radical, shiite slate.

In the North, out of 33 election offices, only nine were open and out of a worldwide population of at least three million only 32,000 votes were counted for the Assyrian Christians.

I was there during the time of Saddam. It was a living nightmare! The real "Abu Ghraib" was a torture chamber for Saddam. My relatives can show you the scars all over their body from their time there!

What were the Iraqis afraid of as war approached? Not the US Bombing but the release of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons by a cornered Saddam whom they to a man believed he had and would use!

Against the war? Are you kidding? The Iraqis were so desperate for a war to come to liberate them days before the war the talk of Baghdad was those who were going to commit suicide if the war did not come!

I was there on the day of the handover from the US to the UN. All those against the war said there would be dancing in the streets as the people had done when Saddams sons were killed and Saddam caught.

Baghdad on July 30? Total silence! No dancing! No parties! Just a quiet despair settled over the city. Iraqis quietly asked "Are the Americans going to leave?"!

Hardly rejoicing!

For all of Saddam Husseins faults - and I was there during his time in power - he severely limited any role for religion in the Government. The result a secular, modern Iraqi population, cowered, intimidated and cut off from the world as they were.

A few months ago I had a long conversation with Ibrahim al-Jaffari who just became the new Prime Minister of Iraq.

Having met him on a number of occasions in Baghdad, including the day of the installation of the new Iraqi Government in July of 2004 I found him to be open, kind and helpful in particular to the plight of the minorities in Iraq.

In our long discussion, though I became very troubled.

My question to Mr. Jaffari was very simple. I asked:

"Mr. Jaffari, for those of us who are not moslems we are deeply concerned about the future of Iraq and the role of islam in Iraq. As you know Saddam Hussein, for all his faults did not allow religious influence in the Government.

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In particular when the Governing Council of the previous Iraqi Government set up a constitution committee they specifically voted, across religious and ethnic lines that there should be no mention of idealogy or religion in the new Iraqi constitution.

Why, when this was so clear and the feeling of the Iraqi people so clear did you insist on having Article 7 - Islam is the religion of the nation - "

Mr. Jaffari replied " If we did not put islam as the religion of the state the people would revolt!"

I turned to Mr. Jaffari and with a smile said "Mr. Jaffari, I think you have been outside of Iraq too long - he was in Iran for 10 years and the UK for 13 - You have lost touch with your people. They are secular! Of course there are many, in the south mostly who are somewhat religious, but the people do not want any involvement of the mullahs or religious leaders in government at all. They are very, very clear that they do not want to become anything even remotely like Iran."

Mr. Jaffari appeared shocked. He started to protest when his aide, an Iraqi interjected.

"Sir", he said, looking at Mr. Jaffari, "he is right - the people have changed, they do not want any part in any form of religion in Government."

It was a very telling moment for someone who was the head of the Dawa Party a radical islamic party and a close confident of Mr. Sistani, the Iranian head of the shiite movement in Iraq.

Further, just a few days ago I had a conversation with Lakhdar Brahimi, the former Algerian Foreign Minister and the man appointed by Kofi Annan to put together a government following the handing over of power by the Coalition Provisional Authority in July of last year.

Mr. Brahimi, similarly had no apologies for moving Iraq away from its secular, open situation to a islamic path in defiance of the will of the people.

"I simply facilitated things. I have no agenda other than to let the Iraqi people express their will." he said.

In fairness to Mr. Jaffari, he also promised when in power that he would protect the rights of the minorities. "When things settle down, come and see me again. I will assign a team from the government to go with you all over Iraq and we will do a survey of the Assyrian Christians to find out their needs and put in place measures to help and protect them."

At the same time, I sensed the same theme - outsiders, more radical that those in the country claiming to speak "for the people.'

It is not too late! 1,500 plus American heroes did not die to create "The Islamic Republic Of Iraq" nor were lives given to deny the poor Iraqi People their voice.

The next battle in Iraq is over the constitution. If Mr. Jaffari, the Iranian Sistani and the others who are out of touch with the Iraqi people who have only one desire - we just want to be normal - no Saddam, no mullahs or religious leaders in Government - have their way Iraq will become The Islamic Republic of Iraq.

If the Iraqi peoples voice can truly be heard it will be simply "The Republic of Iraq."

The world must stand on the side of the long suffering Iraqi people, who after getting rid of one nightmare do not deserve to have another!

[Zinda Magazine was informed that Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. has been hospitalized with what appears to be symptoms of a rare blood disease apparently contracted in Iraq. Rev. Joseph has been in Iraq since before the War and working tirelessly on behalf of the Assyrian Christians of Iraq. Rev. Joseph requests the thoughts and prayers of our readers for a complete recovery.]

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Columnist Corner
with Ivan Kakovitch

Occupation & Insurrection

Part II of III

The Tasks

Each contingency has a variant task.

The projectile of an army of occupation is that of securing the territory against the insurrectionists.

The duty of insurrectionists is to harass the army of occupation.

This is what is commonly known as totally opposing forces.

The Mighty & the Usurped

On the surface, an army of occupation, under any pretext, is amenable within its ambient parameters of the domain it has conquered. This force relishes with pride and, most of the times, controls, with firmness, and commands all the veins of the rule, whether it pleases or displeases the usurped. The army of occupation is somewhat at ease, and shows no rancor towards some kind of minor rankling, as they occur, from time to time. However, it unleashes its ferocity, the moment such an irritation becomes burdensome and dangerous.

On the other hand, the usurped citizenry deems being arrogated, regardless of the ornament or the decorum of the occupation force. Thus, some of the leading political, military or mere the discontented masses, sometimes along with the hegemony of the clergy, this is specially a viable nurturing source of opposition in the Islamic world, coerce their voices on a dilettante foundation, and initiate the insurgency tactics.

Insurgency Tactics

These militaristic maneuvers are not new, and they have been in the order of the civilizations, as long as civilization itself was at the core of the events, throughout history of mankind.

The most successful militaristic tactics transcend all dossiers of military academies, and function in exactly the opposite version as to the footnotes and formulas of the regular armed forces. Hence, their success or successes to a certain degree, dominate the events of the day-to-day life of an occupied country.

The elasticity, mingled with ambiguity, adorned with zealous patronage of patriotism, renders the insurgents with a weapon that no sophisticated machinery can overcome, at all the times, at all the places, and by all the armed forces of the world.

An insurgency tactic is a practical mean to pursue the appropriate strategic objectives.

It is a complement of a strategy, and, in a way, its execution. Always at a variance, they are more pliable than the final objectives. The means of tactical adaptation must be adapted to each circumstance of the battlefield. During a skirmish, there are constant objective tactics, besides a myriad of diversifications. But, the main objective is to maintain the justifiable action of the insurgent against the enemy. As it happens, that is where coercively politicized measures, portraying the army of occupation as aggressive, bloody and inhuman, supersedes all other actions of operation.

In all events of the insurrection, the geographical and social conditions of each country determine particular formations, and implementation of variant tactics.

Iraq Insurrection

The insurrectionists count on the total support of the local population. This is a condition 'sine qua non'. The groups forming an insurrection are aplenty, and are guided with cohesion, respect for the highest authorities, courage, knowledge of the terrain and localities, and most of all, audacity to pursue an attack.

Obviously the terrain in Iraq is not protective for the insurgents, as it would be in mountains and in the forests. These geographical safe-heavens for insurgents are practically non-existent in Iraq, except in the northeast, an area strictly controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga.

"In order to conduct a successful guerilla [insurgency] in a not so favorable terrain, [as Iraq], which is prone to accidents, is forestless, and is activated with an abundance of [sophisticated] communications devices, presenting an alarming state for guerilla [insurgency] operations, all fundamental procedures are to be in place, just as in favorable terrains, with the exception that the methods of achieving the goals are modified, if not altered altogether. The mobility of a guerilla [insurgent] force must be extraordinary; given an order, the attack, preferably at night, must be extremely rapid, and quasi-fulgurous [eye-popping]. The guerillas [insurgents] must not only fight while retreating rapidly, but must also have access to a secondary base of operations, and as far as possible from the skirmish point." [Guevara].

So then, one might conclude that in view of the fact that insurgents are not relinquishing the stubborn and bloody attacks on the military checkpoints, embassies and police or army recruiting centers, despite, sometimes, heavy fatalities, is because they do have a certain support among the local population. But, this effect to aid and abet the insurgents against an army of occupation is just natural, and no country is immune from such a criteria.

Insurgency and Terrorism

An insurgency, depleted of the tactics of terrorism is no more a hide-and-seek game.

Even after some three millennia of warfare there is still no criteria, differentiating terrorism from defense procedures. Much less, defense and offense maneuvers.

Terrorism and insurgency go hand in hand in most parts of the world, and the Middle East, along with North Africa, tops them all.

After all, the twelfth century, fortified bastion of the Old Man of the Mountain, whose credo: "Nothing is Forbidden, Everything is Permitted', and, whose trained hashishis [assassins] dealt deadly blows, without remorse, as a service for those that paid them heftily, lies less than a few hundred miles, in the Zagros Mountains. That spirit of elimination by assassination or self-sacrifice in the line of elimination has been a dominant feature even at the zenith of Islam, during which, Imam Ali, and his sons, [grand-children of the Prophet Mohammad], Hazrat [Blessed] Hassan and Hazrat Hossein, were assassinated in Karbala, Iraq.

Hence, the assumption is that the insurgents are somewhat fending their insurgency tactics in favor of human arsenal of self-sacrifice, is probably, a rather well calculated risk, worth the price.

It really does not mean that they have abandoned their audacious tactics of inflicting harm by surprise attacks conducted by small groups, but have coalesced their method to inflict more casualties with fewer spared adherents.

The illicit attacks against young men trying to join the military detachments of Iraq, who are really not amative to the army of occupation, and enlist their services for economical reasons, is viewed as that of the partisans during WWII that hanged their neighbors and their comrades for collaborating with the occupation forces of Germany, Italy and Japan.


One of the main reasons the insurgents have been successful in obliterating thousands of such young men at the recruiting centers, or in their bases that are not well protected, is that they are conducting such self-sacrifice on religious grounds.

But, foremost, at the lead of the events, is the posting of insidious agents within the rank and file of these recruiting and operating centers.

It is a well known factor that the men that are ordered to render themselves as walking bombs, tightly bundle up their unspeakable parts with bandages, and adorning that part of the body with numerous assortment of underwear. The reason is that they really do believe that there is life after death, somewhere in heaven, and, they do not wish to become obsolescent without their manhood. As a matter of fact, a number of women among the Palestinian suicide-bombers were known to have bandaged their breasts as well.

Moslems are much more ardent faithful to their faiths than the non-Moslem, specifically, the Christians. The latter merely take their religious beliefs cavalierly and in stride, with contortion and convolution. A case in point is the British shoe-bomber, who was seen trying to light his shoes on an airplane. He really didn't wish to die, so, he just would rather fake a suicide. His life would be guaranteed under the law and behind the bars, whereas reneging on the assignment would definitely invite death. I wonder if anyone checked into his underwear apparel. I bet no one did, and I bet he took no extraordinary precautions. He was not a born Moslem. He was only a convert.

Iraq of Tomorrow, And a Day After

In the final analysis, a government for Iraq shall be in place, but what kind of Iraq, remains to be seen.

Studying the ramifications of the insurgencies that are taking their daily tolls, and watching the Kurdish military forces staying at arms length from prosecuting the insurgents, one might deduce that Iraq is headed for a cessation.

Eventually, a schism, provoking such a secession, shall occur between the Kurds and the Arabs, and the country shall be divided into, at least two, if no more, separate geographical, national and political entities.

Who knows? Perhaps one of the seceded states might surprise the world by bestowing a democratic reality, with a constitution of secularism.

(Next Week: Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey)

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Assyrians at Their Best

Obie Yadqar:  Finding His Voice

Doris V. Cummins

Longtime radio broadcaster Obie Yadgar is penning a new career as an author.

Avid listeners to Obie Yadgar during his long career as host of Milwaukee’s WFMR-FM classical radio program described him as a Renaissance man, a skilled symphony narrator, an arts connoisseur, gourmet cook, discriminating reader and lecturer, movie buff and writer.

What many fans may not know is that Yadgar, now happily "almost retired" from broadcasting, is a full-time author who has just published his first novel online, "Will’s Music," a contemporary story set in San Francisco.

"‘Will’s Music‚’ is about life’s passages, friendship, the detours we all take," Yadgar says. "It is centered in the world of music and dance. I wrote it while I was working in Chicago at WNIB a few years ago."

Now a Glendale resident, Yadgar, 62, still enjoys doing radio voice-overs but mainly devotes his days to polishing a second book of anecdotes about classical composers, favorites that contributed to his earning Milwaukee Magazine’s "Best Morning Announcer" title during his tenure here. He is also drafting a second novel.

Born in Baghdad of Assyrian heritage, Yadgar was raised in Tehran, Iran and emigrated to Chicago in 1957 without a word of English. "In high school no one could pronounce my given name Obelit, so a teacher called me Obie, and it stuck," he explains. He was a combat correspondent in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division in 1967-’68.

He delighted Milwaukee area listeners of WFMR-FM from 1974-’83, again from 1987-’92 and finally from January 2002-’04 as well as stints broadcasting from UW-Milwaukee. His distinctive "Good Morning, GOOD MORNING!" signature greeting, and his familiar weather comments, "It’s an introspective day" (never a gray day) fascinated legions of listeners and created a void when he joined Chicago’s WNIB/WNIZ from 1996 to 2002.

Zinda:  Mr. Yadqar is the great-nephew of the renowned Assyrian writer and historian Benjamin (Binyamin) Arsanis.  After many years Obelit (we prefer to call Obie by his Assyrian name) he has finally become a novelist with “Will’s Music,” available through Authorhouse (click here).  For more information on Obelit visit his website (click here).  Here's an excerpt from Obelit Yadgar's book:

“What a poetic thought.” She chuckled. “Never done that before. I mean I’ve stayed home with a Russian novel, but I don’t own a samovar.”

After the Mozart, he had picked up the tempo with a Vivaldi violin concerto. Still keeping the studio on-air monitor off, he peeked at VU meters on the console board. Vivaldi flew along. “Mozart brings out the poetry in me,” he humored her.

“His adagios for me.” She sighed again. “They touch my soul like wistful songs gazing into the far distance. They’re like . . . they’re like sunsets out on the Pacific . . . warming my breath and returning it to my body. Sometimes I’m audacious enough to think Mozart wrote his music just for me.”

She had a seductive voice, hypnotic, her pace deliberate as if she examined every word. He could see her as a sexy late night jazz deejay. Jesus, who was she? And he loved the way she said his name, the way she lingered on it, as if wanting it to go on. “Don’t stop, you’re on a roll,” he said.

“Sometimes I get carried away. You have work to do, and I have to get ready.”

She intrigued him. He had to know more about her. “What do you do?”

“Nothing as glamorous as what you do, I’m afraid.”

“I crank it out day in and day out like a piston.” Modesty never hurt.

“Doesn’t sound like it. I like your music . . . and I like what you say. What was that phrase you used the other day? ‘It’s a good day to sit by the window and watch the world go by.’ I liked that.”

“Thanks.” He laughed.


“Sometimes I feel the whole thing is so weird . . . so surreal.

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Thank You
The following individuals contributed to the publication of this issue:

Sargon Alkurge (California)
Dr. Matay Arsan (Holland)

Nahrain Kamber (California)
Dr. Eden Naby (Massachusettes)
Ramsen Neesan (Chicago)
Aprim Shapera (UK)

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