29 Tdabbakh 6755
Volume XI

Issue 47

20 August 2005


Office  202-349-1429         zcrew@zindamagazine.com           Fax 1-415-358-4778
1700 Pennsylvania Avenue. , NW     Suite 400     Washington, DC  20006  U.S.A.

Youra Tarverdi

Assyrian Entrepreneur & Visionary

This Week in Zinda

  Think Assyria First ! Wilfred Bet-Alkhas
The Lighthouse
  The Peace Pioneer:  Youra Tarverdi  
Good Morning Assyria
  Militias Wresting Control Across Iraq's North and South
Letter from Mosul: the World Youth Day afar from Cologne
News Digest
  Plea for Assyrian Christians and Iraqi Minorities
Assyrian Youth Meets German Chancellor, Discuss Genocide
Photos from Chicago Assyrian Martyrs Day Commemorations
Zinda Magazine is published every Wednesday & Saturday. To register for your free Zinda notifications enter your email address in the field above and click 'Sign Up'.
Surfs Up!
  Call it What it is: A Coma !
ChaldoAssyrian National Aspiration Doomed

Click to Learn More

Surfer's Corner
  From Mosul to Fairfield Samiramis Ziyeh
  Who Lost Iraq?
The Not-so-Golden Age of Islamic Philosophy
Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.
Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D.
  Engineering Student Crowned Miss Windsor International  
Back to the Top

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

Think Assyria First!

Last week a confidential memo was submitted to our office in Washington D.C.  It carried a quick message from Baghdad:

“Christians compromise on unity name – Chaldean Assyrian Syriac. Abd al-Ahad rejects.”

A day later we received an email from California which read:

“Five out of the six Christians in the Iraqi National Assembly signed a memo demanding from the Iraqi Parliament to institute the title "Chaldean Assyrian Suryani" (without the "and" in between) as a united designation for our one people.”

If this unconfirmed information is true, then in essence we have turned our clocks back to 1972 and have accepted what Saddam Hussein had been asking us to do all along. With one major exception: then we were more focused on an Assyrian territory and less with a unique identity than we are today.

The use of the term “Assyrian Chaldean Syriac" is nothing new; it was first used by the Baathist regime of Iraq in the 1972 Decree # 251. Here for the first time, the Assyrian people were referred to as “the Syriac speaking people comprising Athouriyoon/Kildan/Siryan”. To the Baathists Assyrians were simply Iraqi-Arab Christians who spoke a language other than Arabic, namely Syriac.

Am I to call myself Assyrian or an “Assyrian Chaldean Syriac” editor of an “Assyrian Chaldean Syriac” online magazine? We laughed at Saddam Hussein back in 1972 as we’re laughing at the compromise allegedly made last week in Baghdad.

As for the Name Issue there are two viable options for the “Syriac-speaking Christians” of Iraq: we are either to be called “ChaldoAssyrians” or “Assyrians and Chaldeans and Syriacs”, each group denoted separately and recognized as unique and completely separate ethnicities. The latter option is how Assyrians and Chaldeans in Iran are constitutionally referred to today.

Our representatives in Iraq remain deeply split. The use of the term “ChaldoAssyrian” seems to be no longer an acceptable option in Baghdad. The term “Assyrian Chaldean Syriac” is too long and realistically cannot be applied to any person or historic event or cultural entity. We are left with “Assyrians AND Chaldeans AND Syriacs.” In the current political climate of Iraq this may not be a bad option.

As often said in this column we are becoming too preoccupied with the Name Issue. Our main focus today should rather be on a completely different topic - the formation of an Assyrian province in north Iraq under a centralized federal structure.

Hence, it is futile to continue the unity discussions among the various religious groups within the Assyrian nation. It is critical that all Assyrians, including the Chaldean-Assyrians who do not support a separate Chaldean ethnicity, completely focus on the formation of a demographically Assyrian region in Iraq.

An Assyrian province, the Province of Assyria or Ashur, would protect us from hostile Islamic extremism, create a free, secular, democratic region where the rights of every citizen and especially women are protected under a secular law, not bound to any religious faith; and re-assert the historic Assyrian identity.  Here we can also promote our language and Christian faith, free of any Shariah or Islamic manipulation.

It is not the name, rather the State or Province of Assyria, which will determine the fate of our historic identity. What we need is an area within Iraq which will be demographically Assyrian. This will in turn force a demographic shift where Assyrians from Syria and Jordan will return to their homes and villages. Many Assyrians from the diaspora will also bring their human and financial resources to help reconstruct an Assyrian province.

Some Assyrian observers believe that the lack of a military force, inadequate manpower, insufficient financial support and revenues from a natural resource like oil, will lead to the failure of such a plan, were it to even materialize.

This is true. Therefore Assyrians must make themselves useful to other countries who would benefit from a truly democratic and free-market economy driven region, dominated by non-Arabs and Christians. Moreover, Assyrians can offer the non-Christians in the greater Middle East the industries and opportunities not afforded by any neighboring Moslem countries. The revenues generated could be equal, if not more than that generated by the oil fields in Kirkuk and Basra.

The security threat to Assyrians is a more critical issue than the threat to Assyrian identity. The real debate should not be whether we wish to be called ChaldoAssyrian or AssyoChaldean, etc. It should focus on how and when Assyrians can manage to create an Assyrian province in Iraq. As long as I can edit Zinda Magazine from a town in Assyria, what the Iraqi constitution calls my identity, written under so much pressure from the foreign occupying forces, is secondary.


The Lighthouse
Feature Article


The Peace Pioneer

Youra Tarverdi, Assyrian Entrepreneur and Visionary

Courtesy of the Almaden Resident
18 August 2005
By Sarah Holcomb

In times of conflict, the idea of world peace seems far-fetched. Even in the mid-'90s when Youra Tarverdi set out to create his peace organization, conflict plagued the Balkans in southern Europe. With the odds stacked against his big ideas, Tarverdi forged ahead and founded the World Peace Network.

Tarverdi, an Almaden resident for 19 years, hopes the members of the WPN will bridge gaps between their nations and others through economic trade and communication among leaders. Through trade and communication, he expects tensions to dissipate and bonds to replace conflict. His ultimate goal with the project is inspiring others to work toward world peace.

So far, members of the WPN consist of associations such as the Assyrian Universal Alliance and other representation groups. These groups are also affiliated with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, which consists of groups from countries that do not have a seat at the United Nations.

Tarverdi began formulating the idea of the WPN while he was working with the leaders of the UNPO, specifically a former senator from Illinois, John Nimrod.

When the WPN is finished, it will provide its members with a 24-hour broadcast communication system that will allow the United Nations and similar organizations to communicate their ideas about countries and organizations to all people. Tarverdi compares his idea to a network like CNN, except all the WPN broadcasts will be about people working through the WPN to solve their conflicts.

Currently, Tarverdi is working on the infrastructure for the system so he can present it to a media outlet.

Pinnacle of Success:  The 1994 World Cup soccer tournament at Stanford University is the largest specialty event Tarverdi's company, Centennial Contract Services, has serviced to date.  Tarverdi made contact with a number of international leaders in the process.

"The vision basically is this: to be able to create, to be able to build bridges between cultures, to be able to know and understand their differences, and to be able to contribute," Tarverdi says. He hopes the economic trade and communication system is just one avenue that will help bridge the gaps between countries.

While he has been working on the WPN for nine years, he has been a player in the international politics arena for more than 10 years, a role that began while working on a specialty project in Panama to refit some old forts on the canal.

While this project never came to fruition, it launched Tarverdi into the global politics arena--not as a politician or lobbyist or any other traditional role. Tarverdi quickly became an advocate for minority countries whose voices are rarely heard.

While much of his passion lies with the Assyrian people and their culture because he is Assyrian, he considers himself an advocate for all cultures.

Carlo Ganjeh, a Willow Glen resident, is the secretary of Americas for the Assyrian Universal Alliance. He has worked with Tarverdi for 20 years through the Assyrian-American Association of San Jose.

"He is very passionate about what he does," Ganjeh says. "He has a good understanding of world problems, and because of his passion he's usually a good help."

Tarverdi and Ganjeh want to ensure human rights for their fellow Assyrians in their countries of residence and make sure they have representation in international organizations.

"As a nation that has been scattered over 40 countries, we have a very tough situation," Ganjeh says.

Assyrians are originally from Iraq, but were scattered all over Eastern Europe and the Middle East by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Through his work with the AUA, Tarverdi worked closely with Nimrod, who is the chairman of the UNPO and also represents the AUA at the UNPO.

Nimrod said he has known Tarverdi for several years and tried to get him interested in working in the UNPO. Through working and traveling together, Tarverdi and Nimrod came up with the idea of the WPN.

Member countries of the WPN include Tibet and Taiwan, which are struggling to become independent nations. Tarverdi hopes the WPN will help those nations solve disputes and come to an agreement.

"Youra [Taverdi] set up a function to bring about peace and understanding and protection of human rights while at the same time providing for the means of communication and understanding between nations and groups of people that are living within a country where they have big differences," Nimrod says.

Tarverdi expects big things for the WPN, but he only takes credit for spearheading the project, as there are people from Paris and Berlin who have taken the reins of the organization.

"For me, when I say I'm a spearheader, I spearhead political and economic doors and I open them for the clientele or the political agenda we might have," Tarverdi says.

Nimrod says Tarverdi's passion and dedication make him a great leader.

Tarverdi's passion comes from his life experiences as an Assyrian.

In 1971, his family immigrated to America from Iran, where he was born, so that they could practice their Christian faith freely. They lived in Chicago for a few months, then moved to San Mateo when he was 7 years old.

Ten years later, he enrolled in a business course at the College of San Mateo while he was still a senior in high school. For a business class assignment, he had to start the most economic business he could think of.

"I saw this guy washing the windows at a gas station and I thought to myself 'How much can it cost for a bucket of water and a squeegee?' " Tarverdi remembers.

From this observation, he founded Clean It, which has grown from three full-time window washers to a full-fledged building maintenance company. This transformation caused Tarverdi to change the name from Clean It to Continental Building Maintenance.

After 10 years, Tarverdi's company had 360 employees and is still going strong.

Tarverdi's company, Platinum Facility Services, set up the VIP areas for the GrandPrix in downtown San Jose (click here) over the July 30 weekend.  Platinum was in charge of the Paddock Club Suites, the Pit Suite Compound and some of the bleachers set up along the race route.

Meanwhile, Tarverdi began pursuing specialty projects such as providing janitorial services for large events in the area. This branched into a separate business venture that he named Centennial Contract Services. Tarverdi says his partners in Continental Building Maintenance didn't want to partake in his "wild" ideas, so he bought them out and took over the reins of both companies.

"I'm pretty sure they were glad to get rid of me," Tarverdi said.

The company has taken part in various events in central California, and so far the pinnacle of the company has been the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament at Stanford University. Centennial took care of the logistics and cleanup for the event.

"It was an overwhelming task, but I was more proud of being given the opportunity to host one of the largest logistics and cleanup endeavors in the world," Tarverdi says. "That gave me the plateau to launch into other special challenges," among them the specialty project in Panama.

As large as the idea of the WPN is, it is just a side project for Tarverdi. He puts the time in as a way of paying forward the good fortune he has had in America.

"I want to thank America. It's my way of giving back to the world what for America has done for me," Tarverdi says.

Tarverdi's gestures are very animated when he discusses the WPN, and sometimes has to pause to organize his thoughts. But he becomes instantly modest when the spotlight is focused on him.

He speaks quietly about his other business ventures, which include half-ownership in Reyhan, a Persian restaurant in Willow Glen, and Platinum Facility Services, a high-scale building maintenance company whose clients include Pixar Animation Studios. Platinum recently was in charge of the VIP sections of the Taylor Woodard Grand Prix in downtown San Jose.

Azita Larijana and business partner Youra Tarverdi opened Reyhan, a Persian restaurant on Almaden Road. All the dishes are prepared with basil, which is how the restaurant got its name: basil in Farsi is Reyhan. Reyhan Restaurant, 1625 Almaden Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. For more information call 408.293.3600.

Tarverdi is also the director of international business development for Reserve Energy Corporation, which creates a high grade of natural gas taken from wells.

Besides his business and international endeavors, Tarverdi still finds plenty of time for his friends and family.

Azita Larijani, who runs Reyhan, is one of those friends whose life has been changed by Tarverdi, and she has only known him for a year. Her original business partner backed out in the early days of the restaurant, so just when she needed a friend and a business partner, Tarverdi was there to help her realize her dream.

"He has so many things going on and I ask him how he fits it all in his head," Larjiani said. "And on top of everything he does he still finds time for people like me."

With his fingers in many pies, Tarverdi is a true Renaissance man, a title he wouldn't have achieved had he not lived in America.

Tarverdi says he is grateful for the opportunities America has presented him. "Only in America can a person from a village in Iran get an opportunity to do so much good in the world, and that's the difference between a good country and a great country."


Back to the Top

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Militias Wresting Control Across Iraq's North and South

Assyrian city of Qaraqosh demonstrates how the Kurds apply their expanding power in the north.

Courtesy of the Washington Post
20 August 2005
By Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru
Mr Fainaru reporting from Qaraqosh

(ZNDA: Mosul)  "I don't see any difference between Saddam and the way the Kurds are running things here," says Nahrain Toma, who heads a human rights organization, Betnahrain, with offices in northern Iraq.  She has already faced several death threats.

Toma says the tactics were eroding what remained of U.S. credibility as the militias operate under what many Iraqis view as the blessing of American and British forces. "Nobody wants anything to do with the Americans anymore," she said. "Why? Because they gave the power to the Kurds and to the Shiites. No one else has any rights."

Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials.

While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, forces represented by the militias and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents say they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.

The parties and their armed wings are sometimes operating independently, and other times as part of Iraqi army and police units trained and equipped by the United States and Britain and controlled by the central government. Their growing authority has enabled them to seize territory, confront their perceived enemies and provide patronage to their followers. Their rise has come because of a power vacuum in Baghdad and their own success in the January elections.

Kurdish parties have employed a previously undisclosed network of at least five detention facilities to incarcerate hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and other minorities abducted and secretly transferred from Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and from territories stretching to the Iranian border, according to political leaders and detainees' families. Nominally under the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi army, the militias have beaten up and threatened government officials and political leaders deemed to be working against Kurdish interests; one bloodied official was paraded through a town in a pickup truck, witnesses said.

"Here's the problem," said Majid Sari, an adviser in the Iraqi Defense Ministry in Basra, who travels with a security detail of 25 handpicked Iraqi soldiers. "They're taking money from the state, they're taking clothes from the state, they're taking vehicles from the state, but their loyalty is to the parties." Whoever disagrees, he said, "the next day you'll find them dead in the street."

Kurdish officials acknowledged that terrorism suspects from across the region have been taken to several Kurdish-run detention facilities, but they said the practice was initiated by the Iraqi government with the blessing of the U.S. military. "It's a question of space; they have no place to put them and here it is safe," said Karim Sinjari, the minister of interior for the Kurdistan Regional Government and a senior official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

In both northern and southern Iraq, the parties and their militias defend their tactics as a way of ensuring security in an increasingly lawless atmosphere. In part, they say, their power reflects their success in January's national and local elections, in which the Kurdistan Democratic Party and its counterpart, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Shiite-led Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and other Islamic parties won overwhelmingly in their respective regions.
But critics charge that they are wresting control over security forces to claim de facto territory and authority, effectively partitioning Iraq even as representatives in Baghdad struggle to negotiate a permanent constitution. "We have a feeling that our Islamic brothers want power, regardless of the law and regardless of the state," said Rahi Muhajir, who leads the Communist Party in Nasiriyah, 130 miles north of Basra. "They want authority and they want to stay permanently."

A Maze of Prisons

Widespread abductions have instilled fear across northern Iraq and led families on a desperate search for relatives who disappear into a maze of prisons in Kurdistan, the semiautonomous region controlled by the two Kurdish parties. Reports of the missing stretch across an arc that spans the Syrian, Turkish and Iranian borders.

The Kurds are holding detainees at prisons in Irbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dahuk, Akrah and Shaklawa, according to human rights activists, political leaders and released detainees.

The total number of detainees is unknown. In June, the U.S. military said it had logged 180 cases in Kirkuk alone; political leaders estimated there were more than 500. Wisam al Saadi, deputy director of the Islamic Organization for Human Rights, said 120 families from Mosul have lodged complaints seeking missing relatives in the last month. Nawazad Qadir, director of the Irbil branch of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, said hundreds are being held in that city while still hundreds more are in the other prisons.

The detentions in the Mosul area surged after the city's 7,000- man police force collapsed during an insurgent offensive in November, according to political leaders, human rights activists and families of the detainees.

Desperate to restore order, the U.S. military brought in the battle-hardened Kurdish militia, the pesh merga, under the auspices of the new Iraqi army. In addition to providing security, the militiamen have helped the Kurds take control of much of the Nineveh Plain, an arid flatland of dozens of towns and villages that includes Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Turkmens and a little-known sect of Shiite Muslims called the Shabak.

On the sleeves of their Iraqi army uniforms, many Kurdish soldiers wear patches featuring the red, white and green national flag of Kurdistan, with its golden sun emblem. Along the highway toward Mosul, Iraqi army checkpoints openly fly the Kurdish flag.

Qaraqosh, a town of 25,000 people about 20 miles southeast of Mosul, demonstrates how the Kurds apply their expanding power in the north. Kurds, by all accounts, make up no more than 1 percent of the population. But Kurd political leaders have not concealed their intention to dominate: "Under the parliament and government of the Kurdistan region, the Assyrians, Chaldeans and Turkmens will enjoy their rights," reads a banner outside the Kurdistan Democratic Party headquarters.

Luqman Mohammed Rashid Wardak, a senior member of the party's local committee who has the Kurdish sun emblem tattooed on the back of his right hand, said he hoped Qaraqosh would be ceded to the Kurds after the area "becomes normalized." In the meantime, he said, "we are presenting our political ideas to the people." Wardak said the Kurdish Regional Government has already distributed $6,000 to poor families. "Because this area does not officially belong to the Kurdistan region," he said, the money "goes to the party and the party pays them." The party has set up a 700-man "protection force," paying the guards' $150 monthly salary.

But when largess doesn't work, the party uses force. On Dec. 5, local party officials ordered the director of a regional land office, Bahnam Habeeb, to disobey a central government order to distribute parcels of land to former Iraqi army officers and soldiers.

Habeeb, who refused to be interviewed, told the party that he could halt the distribution only if he received an order from "a higher authority" -- either the provincial government in Mosul or the central government in Baghdad.

Fifteen minutes later, five pick-up trucks filled with militiamen pulled up, according to witnesses. The fighters dragged the paunchy, 53-year-old Habeeb from his chair and beat him with their fists and rifle butts, the witnesses said. The soldiers placed him face down in the bed of a pickup, pushed their boots into his back and legs and drove him around "to show everybody what they had done," said a witness who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution.

"There is an absence of law," said a 40-year-old Transportation Ministry official who was detained for five days in Dahuk last month. The official said a Kurdish officer had accused him of "writing against the Kurds on the Internet."

" 'Freedom' and 'liberty' are only words in ink on a piece of paper," he said. "The law now, it's the big fish eats the small fish."

Letter from Mosul: the World Youth Day afar from Cologne, Near to the Pope’s Heart

Courtesy of AsiaNews
20 August 2005
By Ragheed Ganni

(ZNDA: Mosul)  A Chaldean priest from Mosul has sent to us his witness on the way in which youth of Mosul are celebrating the World Youth Day. Most of the Iraqi young Catholic could not go to Cologne because of security and visa application reasons. Churches in Mosul have been targeted by car bombs in the last year"

Dear friends, yesterday evening we had a big celebration in Mosul: A spiritual pilgrimage to Cologne- Germany. This was a meeting to be united spiritually with the 400 thousands young people who traveled from different countries to meet the Holy Father. We were united with them spiritually, through the One Universal Church that has no boundaries.

About 400 young people mainly from the Chaldean churches of St Paul, Holy Spirit, and St Meskinta, participated in this event which took place in Holy Spirit Church.

I gave a talk on the theme of the World Youth Day, "We have come to worship Him". First I recalled the words pronounced by Pope Benedict XVI on the 7th of August 2005: Worship- especially "worshipping Jesus"- by no mean belongs to the past, it is not something "without sense for contemporary man". On the contrary, "only by worshipping and loving God above everything can man fully realize himself". I talked about what we could learn from the Magi to meet the Lord Jesus Christ, and then to worship Him and give continuity to this act of worship: watching and reading the signs, searching, discerning, feeling the joy, the deep insight, presenting (gifts, ourselves), conversion (changing the way of living), and finally our commitment as witnesses of faith. Through these 8 steps we can reach the true worship of our God and savior.

Archbishop Paul Faraj Rahho, celebrated the Eucharist, and in the homily he urged the participant to renew there commitments and never feel ashamed of the Cross of the Lord, and accepting the challenges of their faith in a time of trial when their faith is tested. He encouraged them to draw near to Him, He who loved us all, with a love without limit. To be very keen in being present and participate in the Eucharist, is an expression of being very close to God.

He also recalled to our minds the words of John Paul II when he spoke on the 6th of August 2004 on this very theme of WYD saying: "Faithfully pursuing the path of our Redeemer from the poverty of the Crib to His abandonment on the Cross we can better understand the mystery of His Love which redeems humanity. The Child, laid by Mary in the Manger, is the Man- God we shall see nailed on the Cross. The same redeemer is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In the stable at Bethlehem He allowed Himself to be worshipped under the humble outward appearances of a newborn baby, by Mary, Joseph and by the shepherds; in the consecrated Host we adore Him sacramentally present in his body, blood, soul and godhead, and He offers himself to us as the food of eternal life. The Mass then becomes a truly loving encounter with the One who gave himself wholly for us. Do not hesitate, my dear young friends to respond to Him when He invites you "to the wedding feast of the Lamb". Listen to him, prepare yourselves properly and draw close to the Sacrament of the Altar, particularly in this Year of the Eucharist (October 2004- 2005) which I have proclaimed for the whole Church"(no.3).

Back to the Top

News Digest
News From Around the World


Plea for Assyrian Christians and Iraqi Minorities

Courtesy of the Ekklesia
18 August 2005

(ZNDA: London)  As world attention focuses on the struggle to achieve a balance of constitutional interests between Kurds, Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, a human rights group is campaigning to draw fresh attention to the serious plight of Assyrian Christians and other minority groups.

In a letter to the Guardian newspaper in the UK yesterday, Glyn Ford, Labour Euro-MP for South West England, joined former Tribune editor Mark Seddon and Andy Darmoo, head of Save the Assyrians, to ask why no proper attention has been given to minorities who make up 6 per cent of the Iraqi population.

"In particular, what of the Assyrian Christians?", they write. "Prevented from voting in the elections, in recent months many have had their land occupied and stolen, their churches firebombed and their families attacked. Isn't it time that the international community began championing the rights of Assyrians and other minorities before it is too late?"

Until the invasion of Iraq in 2003 there were estimated to be around one million Christians in Iraq. They include the country's original inhabitants, but are wrongly portrayed by militant Islamists as American infiltrators.

Some recent estimates say that between 60,000 and 80,000 Chaldo-Assyrian Christians have fled the country since the fall of Baghdad.

Church bombings in Assyrian neighborhoods of Baghdad and Mosul in August and October 2004, mortar attacks, raids against Christian homes, and forced conversions have also contributed to the unease of a community that has increasingly felt itself under siege.

At least one militant organization, The Islamic Mujahideen, has in the recent past demanded that all Mandaeans (another minority group) convert to Islam, leave the country, or be killed.

"Christian women are harassed, have acid thrown into their faces, are kidnapped and raped," says one civil rights activist. "They seek some safety behind the Muslim hajib.”

During Saddam Hussein's wars against the Kurds, hundreds of Assyrian villages were destroyed. Their inhabitants were rendered homeless and scattered as refugees in large cities or in neighboring countries. Dozens of ancient churches, some dating to the early centuries of Christianity, were bombed and turned into rubble.

The teaching of the Syriac language was also prohibited and Assyrians were forced to give their children Arabic names in a way that undermined their identity. Those who wished to hold governmental jobs had to sign ethnicity correction papers which declared them Arabs.

The fall of Saddam, which it was hoped would bring justice to Iraq, has instead unleashed religious violence onto Christians and minority communities in Iraq, in the wake of an increasingly bloody insurgency against occupation.

Click Banner for More Information


Assyrian Youth Meets German Chancellor, Discuss Genocide

(ZNDA: Cologne)  Banibal Atman, a 16-year-old Assyrian from Germany, met with the Chancellor Gerhard Schröder recently and used the opportunity to discuss the role of Turkish government in the 1915 Seyfo Genocide.

Banibal presented Mr. Schröder a pen on which the following phrase was inscribed: "Turkey should recognzie the Assyrian Genocide."

"He was very impressed in the Assyrian Seyfo and I had a chance to talk to him for about 5 minutes.  In a short way I explained to him what Seyfo was.  He was very fascinated that Assyrians have survived for over 5000 years," commented Banibal Atman.

Banibal Atman is the nephew of Mr. Sabri Atman, a foremost Assyrian genocide scholar.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder (left) looks at the "Seyfo" pen presented by Mr. Banibal Atman (right).

Photos from Chicago Assyrian Martyrs Day Commemorations

(ZNDA: Chicago)  Some 300 Assyrians gathered at the Assyrian Martyrs Day commemoration event in Chicago where representatives from the Assyrian American National Federation, Assyrian National Council of Illinois, the Church of the East, and the Assyrian Academic Society presented speeches and placed flower garlands at the Assyrian Monument in the Montrose Cemetery.  Prof. Anahit Khosroeva led the Assyrian delegation from the Republic of Armenia (shown presenting a garland along with Mr. Vasili Shoumanov).


Back to the Top
Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor


Call it What it is:  A Coma !

Youel A Baaba

Chaibo Emanuel Kelaita. Admirable courage and revealing expose. Let us remember that siesta is about a two-hour nap in the afternoon, but 17 centuries of sleep is considered coma. Thus comatose people rarely wake up irrespective of how wise and encouraging are your words.

A church and its leaders exist and survive because of the financial and moral support of its people. Once you severe the vein that sustains their existence, they will wither and fall dawn. Assyrians should support only those church leaders who keep their nose out of our political life but work hard to encourage and endorse the activities of all patriots in our homeland.

For Assyrian people to regain patriotic consciousness, they need first to liberate themselves from the clutches of their masters. Two thousand years of willingly marching to the slaughter altar is enough sacrifice for our faith. Let us for one generation spill our blood to resurrect our national identity.

ChaldoAssyrian National Aspiration Doomed

William Aprim & Polous Gewargis

During the recent visit to Chicago of the newly elected Chaldean Patriarch Mar Delly, a special dinner was given by the Assyrian National Council of Illinois in his honor. The event took place at the Venetian Banquet. Mar Dinkha, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East was also invited. Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim, Bishop of the Chaldean Church from Detroit, Mar Emmanuel, Bishop of the Church of the East in Chicago with a large entourage of priests from different denominations. Over five hundred guests welcomed the two Assyrian Patriarchs, in a standing ovation, with cheers and applause for unity. What a night to remember!  It was during this meeting that the two Patriarchs declared that they have no political desire other than to continue adhering to their spiritual and religious obligations.

It is with utter disappointment and outrage to learn the latest news coming from Australia where Patriarch Mar Dinkha is visiting at this time. Contrary to what was promised a few weeks ago, The Bishop of Australia, with the blessing from the Patriarch sent letters to Iraq and the world leaders suggesting to retain the name Assyrian in the new Iraqi constitution. Following suit, the President of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, Mr. A. Kambar, also embraced this idea by issuing a recent declaration.

Thanks to the continued work behind the scenes, combined with the current action taken by the Assyrian Church leaders, the new name, if passed, by the end of this year, will be: Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac, (as a small minority) instead of ChaldoAssyrian as a Nation, as previously suggested. It appears that history is repeating itself. Past mistakes caused by ugly memory of personal ambition and insubordination is currently having its toll among our people. Hatred and division is enjoying free ride, as a result.

All this cloud of action is happening while the officially elected Assyrian representative in Iraq Mr. Younadam Kanna is diligently working to reach some solid solutions to our human rights in the country. He has been a pioneer in pursuing peace and unity among our Assyrian political and religious leaders. The Church and AUA members deliberately ignored the offices of Mr. Younadam Kanna, as they submitted their suggestions directly. Where is the logic in this judgment? Who are we fooling? Assyrian people made their choice clear when they voted for their representative this year during the Iraqi election.

While dealing with the leaders and their capacity to lead, it would be worthwhile and appropriate to bring to the attention of the reader what happened here in Chicago a week ago when the AUA Radio commentator called all members of the AUA, in the state of Illinois, for a meeting to discuss the Assyrian cause. Among old and new members who responded to this crucial call, attendance was in single digit including the president. This tells us again that the AUA is like a head without a body. It is about time for the Assyrian people to question the ability of the AUA as a capable entity by calling for a worldwide referendum.

Two Historical Documentaries Premiering at the
Assyrian American National Convention in Boston
September 1 - 5, 2005

By Lina Yakubova & Artac Avdalyan


Back to the Top
Surfer's Corner
Community Events


From Mosul to Fairfield

Samiramis Ziyeh

In a spiral we dance on the earth that moves beneath our feet, until we are home.

The making of an Australian potential space with Assyrian people, to explore displacement issues, through their traditional dance Khigga.

From Mosul to Fairfield is a joint project of the Assyrian artists and communities in Australia, and the Fairfield City Museum. The artistic concepts of this project are based on consultations and dialogues held with Assyrian community members, workers and organizations. It will explore the connection and identification with homeland for displaced Assyrian people living in Australia and link with their traditional land Iraq, through the ancient Assyrian traditional dance, Khigga.


The Assyrian traditional land Mesopotamia (now eastern Syria and Iraq) is known as the Fertile Crescent stretched along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. When the Assyrian Empire and its capital Nineveh were destroyed in 612 BC, the Assyrian nation escaped into Southern Turkey and Northern Syria. Near Edessa a small kingdom was established, enduring for more than nine centuries. In the fourth century AD the small Assyrian kingdom was crushed between two warring empires of Persia and Rome. From fourth century AD to the beginning of the twentieth century the Assyrians maintained a tribal life style on parts of their traditional land with Mosul as their centre, extending to Baghdad in the south and to Urmi, over the Persian border in the northeast. The Assyrians allied with the western powers in three major wars, the Great War, Gulf War and the recent coalition war and were forgotten upon completion of these military campaigns.

Mosul had different names in the past. In some Medieval Syriac sources Mosul is also known as Mdhinath-Athor, which means The City of Assyria, distinguishing it from Nineveh, which lay on the opposite bank of the Tigris River. In Australia Fairfield has the largest number of Assyrians and during interviews with the Assyrian community members in Fairfield it was realized that a large portion of those interviewed had migrated from Mosul to Fairfield.

Khigga is the traditional circular dance performed by every member of the Assyrian community. Visually it resembles a human spiral wall and symbolically it represents strength and unity. One can say that this form of Assyrian cultural expression is practiced from cradle to grave. It is learned at a very young age, when children take part in celebrations and ceremonial gatherings such as weddings and New Year’s celebrations. It has many forms, meanings and variations according to geographical, regional and tribal locations. It is one of, if not the only Assyrian art form that its roots can be traced to the antiquity period. It is believed that soldiers in the Assyrian Empire would join shoulder and arms to perform a circular dance prior to facing their enemy in combat. This act was most likely to give the army greater psychological, physical and rhythmic harmony as it distressed them.

The name Khigga is used in the modern Assyrian language to denote traditional dancing or a dance. It is a pronunciation of the Classical Syriac word Khigga, which not only means the circle of dancers, but also has much deeper connotations such as; pilgrimage or visit, season or time, feast, festival, fair, holiday or feast day, festive meal or feasting, celebration, ceremony or procession, happiness, delight, pleasure, gladness or joy, tune or melody, gathering, collecting, collectiveness, meeting, assembly or marketplace, funeral meeting or funeral ceremony.

The Assyrians haven't had a homeland for many centuries, yet they have preserved their ethnic identity - perhaps because in dances like Khigga, the homeland can exist beneath the feet of the dancer, if nowhere else. In another Assyrian circular dance, dancers are linked tightly in a line. With each repetition of the dance sequence, they travel only the distance of the width of one foot. With each beat, they touch or step on the ground beneath them, affirming again and again that where they stand, in the body and in the present moment, is home.

Aims and Objectives

This project will provide the Assyrian community with cultural expression, adaptation to new environment, motivation and overcoming isolation. Through creative explorations From Mosul to Fairfield will allow self and communal expressions to heal the burdens of this forgotten small eastern Christian nation and provide health and well being.

Community’s creative expressions, transformed into multi media installations, will be publicly presented to increase social awareness in relation to the Assyrian Diaspora. This project will initiate dialogue between the established Australian institutions and the emerging Assyrian communities and strengthen community links, allowing this community to relate to their new environment by staging their creative expressions in their local and other cultural institutions.

Through Khigga the old and the new elements of the Assyrian culture will be woven together to create an innovative multi media presentation and to make a virtual spiral human wall that stretches from Fairfield to Mosul or From Mosul to Fairfield. This wall, a metaphor for strength and unity that was experienced by the ancient Assyrian soldiers can become the link for the scattered Assyrian people across the globe. The artists and facilitators involved with this project are the weaver who will gather the information and creative expressions of the community, process and transform the material into new art forms using multi media techniques for the final production.


Through creative workshops encouraging the community’s expression, From Mosul to Fairfield project aims to address the community’s internal and external refugee status experienced in their homeland and outside of their traditional land. It will creatively explore the political, social and psychological state of the Assyrian community and their position in the current political climate in Middle East. While exploring the Assyrian Diaspora and their dreams, hopes and yearning for their land (Iraq), this project shall also examine identification with their new home, Australia.

Since every Assyrian loves to do the Khigga, From Mosul to Fairfield project will use this art form as its major theme for events and workshops with the Assyrian community in Sydney. In the early stages of this project, series of performances in cultural and public spaces in Fairfield will be organized to introduce and promote the project directly to the community and attract Assyrian participants to the workshops to be held in the second phase of the project. The workshops will be planned to encourage creative exploration and expressions of the Assyrian community through this dance and other forms such as image making, spoken word and writing to initiate dialogues and exchanges. The workshops and events will include documentation of performance and interviews with professional Assyrian dancers and facilitators living in Australia, to gather the history and techniques of Assyrian traditional dance. These documentations will be incorporated in the multi media installations that will include photographs, sound, text, video and performance, presented to public in 2005 at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery.

Khigga is a dance practiced by the Assyrians for thousands of years in its original and traditional form. What makes this project unique is, the use of this dance as a devise, a link and a passage to bring the far near, to reach the past through the present and to transform the present through return to the past. Khigga will be used as a physical, metaphoric and symbolic element in the process of the events and workshops to create a potential space for the artists, facilitators and participants to share and exchange cultural expressions. This will assist the artists and facilitators through the process of conceptualization and transformation of the traditional art to contemporary forms. Through the new media techniques the community’s traditional expression will be innovatively explored to reach new dimensions. The innovative approach of this project will allow the second generation Assyrians to rediscover and rediscover their culture, making it a cultural source for future generations and the Fairfield City.

This project will involve Assyrian artists, facilitators and performers to work with the Assyrian community members living in Fairfield/Sydney. It will bring younger and the elders together to share and care as they exchange new and old traditions. The performance and public events will be for Assyrian and non-Assyrian audience, while the workshops will be with the Assyrian community members living in Fairfield/Sydney. These events will be organized with the support from organizations such as; The Assyrian Australian Association (AAA), Fairfield Multicultural Health Service, The Assyrian Federation of Australia (AFA), The Assyrian Aid Society (AAS), Fairfield City Museum and Gallery, and Neeta City Shopping Centre in Fairfield. Upon completion of this project, the final production will be shared with communities living in Fairfield LGA and eventually with other communities across Australia.

During a public consultation conducted in the Neeta City shopping centre in Fairfield, at least 40 members of Assyrian community responded to questions regarding homeland (Atra) and dance (Khigga):

Assyria for ever – displaced - my roots my body my home - wish to return to homeland - Mosul beautiful city - we shall return - from the ancestors of ancestors - Khigga is history, legacy and future - dance is happiness - it is the source – it is joy and festivity – Khigga expresses affairs such as Sheikhani a dance prior to war – Khigga represents the unity of Assyrians all around the world – an opportunity for me to exist as an Assyrian in Australia – reminds us of our survival – dance is costumes and tradition – Khigga represents a cultural link to the land where it originated – hearts and minds are still there – our first question is, What about Atra?

This project will have several long-term benefits, including:

  • Link the Assyrian community within itself and to the broader Fairfield community,
  • Provide a forum for recently arrived Assyrian refugees and migrants to connect with the broader Assyrian community and Australian society,
  • Increase the range of cultural resources available to the Assyrian community,
  • Educate the general public about the Assyrian community,
  • Provide Assyrian art facilitators with professional development opportunities,
  • Establish strong links between the Assyrian community, and the Fairfield City Museum,
  • Document important community links between Australia and Iraq.

Ms. Samiramis Ziyeh is an Art Director in Fairfield, Australia.  In 1996 she directed the Border Crossings, a multimedia installation/performance with young Assyrian and Kurdish refugees from Iraq which was presented at the Belvoir Street Theatre during Sydney Carnivale '96.  She has spent the main part of her life in New York, holding solo exhibitions and participating in numerous group shows. Her work has won various awards and her designs are displayed in the American Crafts Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Samiramis' work is a manifestation of the terrain that lies between cultures, infused with insight and longing.

Back to the Top

Editor's Pick


Who Lost Iraq?

Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.

As the dust begins to settle around the dream that was Iraq, the finger pointing is beginning.

`Who lost Iraq?` is the simple, but profound question that many are beginning to ask.

As one who was in Iraq during the time of Saddam and has been their since as an Assyrian Christian, the indigenous people of Iraq the answer to that question is not just academic - it directly relates to the future of our people, the Assyrian Christians who are the original people of Iraq long before the Arabs came.

We are the people of `Nineveh` to whom Jonah came and comprise one of the last remaining major Christian communities in the Middle East.

First, is the question of Saddam. I was there. In an upcoming book entitled `I Was Wrong` I describe what life was under Saddam. I was originally against the war, but when I saw the terror that was Saddam and the pain my family lived under I was quickly brought back to reality.

Rev. Joseph holding the Assyrian flag standing in
an area outside of Baghdad in 2003.

It was terrible under Saddam Hussein! The `real` Abu Ghraib prison was a place where my relatives were beaten every day - after Lunch and Dinner. Monday and Saturday were the days people were hanged.

My relatives reaction to the Abu Ghraib `scandal`? They were angry - angry at the fact that the Americans could not do anything to try and get the truth out of those who oppressed them!

Chemical weapons? I was there! The great fear of the residents of Baghdad in the days leading up to the war were not the Americans - they were afraid of Saddam and all the weapons they believed he had and how he would unleash them on them when cornered. Everybody believed he had every possible weapon to obtain and would unleash it all!

Second, the deep appreciation for the Liberation of their country from Saddam. I was there! Imagine for the first time in your life being able to use a cellphone, surf the internet, speak on the telephone without fear, talk to your neighbors without being afraid, watch `normal` TV, wake up in the morning without having to see Saddam everywhere! Happy? They were delirious to have him gone!

Third, though is the real question. Why has Iraq gone so badly? The answer is a bit complicated, but there is an answer and it is still not too late.

Simply put Iraq was `lost` by Americans. Essentially two types of Americans who ruled Iraq in the days and months following the fall of Saddam.

In my upcoming book, `I Was Wrong`, I detail the many experiences we had firsthand.

The first type was what I call the `good guys`! If Americans have one major fault it is that they are so positive and forward looking and `good` that they have a hard time understanding how `evil`, `Evil` really is!

That was the lesson I learned under Saddam. Yes, he was really that evil and yes, in the 21st century there is such evil!

The `good guys`, where the `aw shucks` Americans that came into Iraq and did their best to organize, fix and restore Iraq. They could not imagine that anyone would purposely try to work against what clearly the Iraqis wanted.

I watched them, many times with tears in my eyes as they worked so hard, under such terrible conditions to make things better for Iraq.

`Why are you here?` I would ask over and over. The answer was always the same `I just want the Iraqis to have what we have. Just doing my job!`

How simple, how naive and yet how powerful.

A half century my own parents came to Japan following the end of the war with Japan and are still there. In talking to the men and women risking their lives to see Iraq restored I kept flashing back to my own parents.

A half century after he had first gone to Japan I asked my own father `Why, Dad did you come to Japan`

His answer? `Because Japan needed help!`. DAD! That’s all? You have been here for 50 years now.

No matter how hard I push him that is all the answer I can get. `Because they need help?` How foolish! How naïve! How powerful!

The first group that `lost Iraq` are the `good guys` the men and women who gave of their lives and their time to rebuild Iraq so the Iraqis could be free.

As my father, a half century after he first came they cannot understand or fathom how evil people can be that they would work against progress, blow up children, rape women and destroy oil fields.

They just don’t understand!

The second group? `The opportunists`. These were many of the people working in the CPA - Coalition Provisional Authority who were there not to see Iraq restored, but simply to get a good line on their resumes and to get a job in the new administration.

A year ago those who were hoping for a job in a Kerry Administration had every incentive to see Iraq fail. While it is very difficult to point to specific instances, put yourself in the position of a staffer desperate for a job in a Kerry administration in January.

The best way to insure it? For Iraq to fail! Did it happen? I am absolutely confident it did. I saw it every day!

I am putting out a call to all who were working at CPA headquarters and others to come forward with details of how the `opportunists` worked against success simply to insure they would have a job in January!

A `forgotten` poster which was supposed to be posed all over the country announcing the plans of the CPA. `Accidentally `delayed telephones, computer systems and a host of other supplies we saw daily.

A whole class of staffers working subconsciously and often consciously to in their own little small way have Iraq `fail` so they could get a job in a new administration which would be directly linked to the failure of Iraq.

The third group? The mostly British `moslem experts` dispatched to `guide` the CPA.

I met them everywhere. They were and continue to be evil personified With beautiful British accents, though they always bowled over the Americans, enamored at the `class` that the Queens English always provides.

Outwardly liberal, democratic, free-loving, they were in actuality evil, promoters of the Islamic Republic of Iraq, always smiling and deceiving the `nice guys` who trusted the `advisors` as they interpreted, explained the `culture` and in as many ways as they could worked against any success that the CPA might attain by working in a calculated way to deliver Iraq to their paymasters in the `evil empire` which is radical islam.

Who betrayed Iraq? The `good guys` who naively believed, the `chasers` who desperately hoped Iraq would fail for their simple job needs and the `experts` who systematically dismantled all the good done for the Iraqi people.

In particular, who betrayed Iraq? In contrast to the `no-nonsense` Military Officer Jay Garner, I had the honor of meeting, I confronted Paul Bremer, his pathetic successor who personally betrayed the people of Iraq by turning it over before it was ready just to personally get out.


Is it too late? No!

We still have time to remedy the mistakes and deliver Iraq once again to is long suffering people.

The most important tool still remaining is the Constitution. Former Ambassador Paul Bremer betrayed the Iraqi people when in spite of the Iraqi Constitutional Committee voting that there `should be no mention of religion or ideology` in the new Iraqi Constitution, pushed on it article 7 which reads `Islam is the religion of the state`.

Imagine, fighting a war, sacrificing so many to create `The Islamic Republic of Iraq`.

The United States and fellow donors in the EU and Japan must absolutely demand that the Iraqi Constitution be secular with no mention of `religion or ideality` as the Iraqi people who are throughout secular want.

Second, is realizing that Iraq is in fact four countries - `Shiastan` in the south, `Sunnistan` in the middle, `Kurdistan` in the Northeast and `Assyria` in the North.

The secret to success in Iraq? Providing maximum local autonomy and self government in the four `states` that constitute Iraq. The way to preserve the whole, as the United States has shown the rest of the world for over 200 years is to provide maximum autonomy to the states.

Can Iraq succeed? Yes it can!

It is succeeding fabulously! Internet service everywhere, freedom to speak, talk on the telephone, business is booming and the list goes on.

Over a half century ago when my parents first came to Japan America succeeded and an enemy - Japan - went on to become a friend and a partner.

Why? Because the US absolutely insisted on a secular and democratic constitution. The pressure was tremendous to compromise and give in, but the US prevailed and the results have `stuck` for a 60 years!

We can do the same in Iraq. Follow the example of Japan and absolutely insist that 1800 brave young Americans did not give their lives for `The Islamic Republic of Iraq` bur for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

An absolute insistence on a secular constitution and local autonomy for the distinct people groups in Iraq is the way forward.

A successful Iraq will `dominoes` thought the region and the world. After all, freedom is the cry of every man and woman.

If we fail, `The Islamic Republic of Iraq` - an Iranian clone, but with the second largest oil reserves in the world will be unleashed onto the face of the earth in a manner that will pale in comparison to Saddam and Iran.

Stay the course! Insist on freedom, democracy and the rule of law! There is still time before the October 15 vote on the constitution to not ask, not urge, but as America did in Japan 60 years ago insist that the Constitution be secular and democratic with a bill of rights and complete local autonomy to the states so the whole can be preserved by the maximum autonomy of the parts.

Further, for a period of time until the border can be properly sealed send in additional troops to seal off Iraq, establish security and train the Iraqis to defend themselves and keep permanent bases in Iraq.

Talk to an older Iraqi and they all point to the day that Iraq fell apart - the day after the 300 member British Contingent left Habbaniya in the 1950s.

Ask the very simple question, whether you were for or against the war `Did 1800 plus brave young men and women give their lives to create The Islamic Republic of Iraq`?

The Answer is clear!

The Not-so-Golden Age of Islamic Philosophy

Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D.
The American Thinker
19 August 2005

In “Christianity and Islam,” a chapter of The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, Jeremy Johns says that

“the relationship between Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages is usually seen, in the West, in terms of military conflict, and, in the East, in terms of the Arab contribution to Western culture.”

(The West fixates on the conquest of most of Christendom by the armies of Islam; the East is stung by the ingratitude of Christians and their failure to acknowledge the superiority of Islamic culture.)

With splendid evenhandedness, Johns notes that each faith “focuses upon an issue which the other regards as peripheral,” Islamic military aggression and Christian ingratitude being morally equivalent.

Muslims conquered the Christian lands of Asia, including the Holy Land; Pope Gregory VII called them “pagans.”

Muslims conquered Egypt and the rest of the north coast of Africa; the “West sought to dehumanize the Muslim scholars to whom it owed so much.”

Muslims conquered Sicily, part of Italy, and much of Spain; Christian knowledge of Islam

“was not used to develop the relationship between the two faiths, but instead, in so far as it was used at all, was selectively deployed by Christian missionaries in their assault against Islam.” Muslims conquered Greece and pressed on through the Balkans to the gates of Vienna; Christians were guilty of “abusive blustering.”

To this day “xenophobic” Christians lack “tolerance,” while Muslims are so morally outraged by “the manifest decadence and corruption of the Christian West” that they “use violence to ensure that they are respected.” (Europeans and Americans have a low opinion of Arabs and Iranians; the obvious sinfulness of Christians drives Muslims to hijack airplanes and fly them into skyscrapers.)

An eleventh century Muslim scholar attributed the stupidity of Christians to the effects of cold weather, which stunted the growth of their brains. If Johns perhaps does not share Said al-Andalusi’s opinion of the etiology of the Christian disease, he does not dispute the symptoms: on the rare occasions when Latin and Arab scholars could meet, he says, “it was only the Latins who had anything to learn.”

In order to balance in the scales of justice the subjugation of so many Christian lands, the cultural contribution of Islam to the West must have been great. Great indeed, says Johns, “so great that it cannot be quantified,” so great that it is “extraordinary that it did so little to improve the relationship between Christianity and Islam.”

In “Islam and Christendom,” a similar chapter in The Oxford History of Islam, Jane Smith identifies the greatest of the Arab contributions to Western culture that Johns says we fail to respect at our peril:

It has long been recognized that one of the most significant and lasting contributions of the medieval Muslim world to Christendom was to provide access for western scholars to the great classics of Greece and Rome by their translation into Arabic, from which they were rendered into European languages. Most of the works of Plato and Aristotle were known to Arab Muslims.

Tickets Available Now!
Click Graphic Below for More Information
As a corporate sponsor of this event, Zinda Magazine is offering special student tickets at $100 (over 65% discount) to full-time Assyrian students with valid proof of enrollment at a high school or college.  To obtain your tickets contact Zinda Magazine at narsai2005@zindamagazine.com.  Bon appetite !

Since Smith’s passage is written in the language of dhimmitude, it is itself in need of translation. “Most of the works of Plato” means The Republic. “Most of the works of...Aristotle” includes works that Aristotle did not write and that do not reflect his philosophy. Access “for western scholars to the great classics of...Rome” means nothing. A “lasting” contribution means access to a translation from Arabic into Latin until a translation directly from the Greek is available or even means access to a translation from Arabic into Latin after a translation directly from the Greek is already available. The passive “were rendered” means “were rendered by Christians and Jews, not Muslims.”

Access “for western scholars to the great classics of Greece and Rome by their translation into Arabic, from which they were rendered into European languages” almost always means access to a Latin translation of an Arabic translation of a Syriac translation of a Greek text. Sometimes it means access to a Latin translation of an Arabic translation of a Hebrew translation of a Greek text. It can even mean access to a Latin translation of a Hebrew translation of an Arabic translation of a Syriac translation of a Greek text. Only on rare occasions does it mean access to a Latin translation of an Arabic translation of a Greek text.

A contribution “of the medieval Muslim world to Chistendom” means the translation into Latin by a Christian or a Jew of an Arabic translation by a Christian or a Jew of a Syriac translation by a Christian or a Jew of a Greek text obtained by “the medieval Muslim world” when it conquered the parts of “Christendom” that contained the libraries and monasteries in which it was kept. It means, in other words, a third, fourth, or fifth-hand version of a stolen Greek text.

Smith’s reference to the great classics of Rome is especially bizarre. She gives no examples, which is perhaps just as well, since they would be Latin translations of Arabic translations of Syriac translations of Greek translations of Latin texts. At this rate, Oxford will be telling us in a few years of French translations of Latin translations of Arabic translations of Syriac translations of Greek translations of Latin translations of French texts. The French translation will have nuit where the French text has jour.

One might imagine that the great classics of Rome would be works by Caesar, Cato, Catullus, Cicero, Horace, Juvenal, Livy, Lucan, Lucretius, Martial, Ovid, Pliny, Quintilian, Sallust, Seneca, Suetonius, Tacitus, Terence, or Virgil, but according to Franz Rosenthal in The Classical Heritage in Islam, “the only Latin text whose Arabic translation is preserved is” by Orosius!

According to dhimmi history, the Dark Ages, which is the same thing as the Middle Ages, came about because Christianity rejected the culture and wisdom of the Greeks. Had Islam not come to the rescue, the treasures of antiquity would have been forever lost. Smith’s “great classics of Greece and Rome” would have disappeared. In particular, Christians lost Aristotle, whom the Arabs magnanimously preserved for them.

Rosenthal, however, gives the following list of ancient Greek writers some part of whose works were rescued by translation into Arabic: “Theophrastus, (Pseudo-?) Euclid, Hero of Alexandria, Pappus of Alexandria, Rufus of Ephesus, Dorotheus of Sidon, Galen, Alexander of Aphrodisias, Nicolaus of Damascus, Porphyry and Proclus.” Where dhimmi history would have led us to expect the name of Plato, we see Pappus of Alexandria or Rufus of Ephesus, and instead of Aristotle we see Dorotheus of Sidon or Nicolaus of Damascus.

According to Charles Burnett in “Arabic into Latin,” a chapter of The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, “The Republic of Plato, though translated into Arabic, was not subsequently translated into Latin.” Thus, the only work of Plato translated into Arabic did not make its way back to the West.

Though there is, according to Bernard Dod in The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy, “a tenacious legend that the West learnt its Aristotle via translations from the Arabic,” Islam did not rescue Aristotle either. In A History of Philosophy, Frederick Copleston says that “it is a mistake to imagine that the Latin scholastics were entirely dependent upon translations from Arabic or even that translation from the Arabic always preceded translation from the Greek.” Indeed, “translation from the Greek generally preceded translation from the Arabic.” This view is confirmed by Peter Dronke in A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy:

“most of the works of Aristotle...were translated directly from the Greek, and only exceptionally by way of an Arabic intermediary.”

So the great rescue of Greek philosophy by translation into Arabic turns out to mean no rescue of Plato and the transmission of Latin translations of Arabic translations of Greek texts of Aristotle, either directly or more often via Syriac or Hebrew, to a Christendom that already had the Greek texts and had already translated most of them into Latin, with almost all of the work of translation having been done by Christians and Jews and none of it by Muslims.

The thesis of The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman (Knopf 2003) is that “the Greek intellectual tradition did not simply lose vigour and disappear. (Its survival and continued progress in the Arab world is testimony to that.)” No, “it was destroyed” by Christians.

This book deals with a significant turning point in western cultural and intellectual history, when the tradition of rational thought established by the Greeks was stifled in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. This “closing of the Western mind” did not extend to the Arab world, where translated Greek texts continued to inspire advances in astronomy, medicine, and science.

Here Freeman betrays the real reason for the hyperbolic praise of medieval Islam: it is “testimony” to the destruction by Christianity of the “Greek intellectual tradition” and, by extension, to the destruction of all intellectual inquiry by the Christianity of all eras.

Johns, Smith, and Freeman praise Islam in order to dispraise Christianity. They have no love of Islam. They would be among the first stoned if Islam took over the West. What they love is hatred of Christianity, which Islam pours out in cataracts, seemingly for free.

Most Americans are disinclined to criticize other people’s religions, hence the utility of blaming Christianity in the guise of praising Islam. A Christian defending his religion seems to be going out of his way to blame Islam.

So according to Freeman, Christians “stifled” “rational thought” and closed the Western mind in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. On no account did Greek thought “simply lose vigour and disappear.” We know this because of what the Arabs supposedly did hundreds of years later.

In fact, of course, Greek thought lost vigor long before Freeman says Christians stifled it, indeed before there were any Christians to do the stifling and almost a millennium before there were any Muslims to rescue it. Why it lost vigor is controversial. That it lost vigor and when should not be.

One explanation for the decay can be found in The Rise of the West by William McNeill. The golden age of Greece was a product of the polis; when it lost its independence, its culture and wisdom were submerged in the cosmopolitanism of empire.

As the world of philosophers enlarged, their place within it shrank, and they confined themselves to “the promulgation of a code of gentlemanly ethics, buttressed by whatever supporting metaphysical, physical, or epistemological doctrine seemed necessary.” In the second century B.C.,

“Greek philosophy became a mere surrogate for religion—and not even a very satisfactory surrogate, because of the denial of emotion which characterized all the Hellenistic schools.”

Philosophy was

“restricted to less and less ambitious intellectual formulations, in which ethical prescription played the central role, while the ideal of truth as an end in itself shriveled into the cold and wizened rationalism of the Hellenistic schools.”

“Appeals to a bygone past and to the old glories of Athens” were futile. “The extraordinary human energies that had been called into life during Athens' brief period of splendor could never be harnessed again.”

The golden age was over. In the Holy Land, the Maccabees were fighting Antiochus Epiphanes. More than eight hundred years would elapse before Mohammed founded the religion that supposedly kept the golden age alive by moving it to the Islamic world.

There was no Homer (9th to 8th century B.C.?), no Pythagoras (ca. 580 to 500 B.C.), no Pericles (ca. 495-429 B.C.), no Sophocles (ca. 496-406 B.C.), no Thucydides (died ca. 400 B.C.), no Plato (ca. 428-348 B.C.), no Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), no Euclid (fl. ca. 300 B.C.), no Archimedes (ca. 287-212 B.C.).

If there is any blame for losing Aristotle, it belongs to Greek philosophy itself, not to the Christianity Freeman blames. “In the course of a few centuries” after the death of Aristotle, says McNeill, his disciples “simply dispersed, allowing Aristotle’s works to fall into an undeserved neglect.”

Upon the death of Aristotle, the world was left with a number of “exoteric” writings, that is, published works, now lost, chiefly dialogues in Platonic form and perhaps content, and with his surviving followers, whose lectures on Aristotelian philosophy became the “esoteric” writings we now have, that is, writings unpublished in the lifetime of Aristotle. Writings of both classes found their way into the libraries of Alexandria, together with as many or more pseudo-Aristotelian works. As a result, a chaotic and confusing situation arose, with genuine works of Aristotle competing for attention with works falsely attributed to him, with works of Aristotelian philosophers reflecting in a difficult-to-ascertain fashion the actual thought of Aristotle, and with all these works located in places difficult to ascertain with specificity, though primarily in the hands of Aristotle’s followers and in the libraries of Alexandria.

Over the centuries, a series of editors attempted to establish a genuine canon of Aristotle, the center of their efforts shifted to Rome, the exoteric writings were lost, and the Aristotle we have today gradually emerged, which is based on Greek texts, not Arabic.

Meanwhile, Plato continued to be the Greek philosopher of choice, especially in the Hellenistic world; Neoplatonism, which emphasized the dogmatic elements of Plato at the expense of his critical aspect, came to dominate metaphysical speculation; and Aristotle, when he was not simply ignored, was interpreted in a Neoplatonic fashion that submerged his differences with Plato, thereby destroying his unique contribution to philosophy.

When Islam conquered most of the Christian lands of Asia and the Middle East and all of them on the north coast of Africa, including Egypt and with it Alexandria, part of the spoils of victory were small centers of Hellenistic scholarship, often Nestorian Christian, that continued for a while translating Greek philosophy into Syriac. Eventually most of the extant writings of Aristotle were translated into Arabic, generally via Syriac, sometimes via Hebrew, on rare occasions directly, together with influential pseudo-Aristotelian texts. These translations became the basis of the Aristotelianism of the Islamic world, which was innocent of the Greek of the original and of the originality of its author.

Such is, in short, the origin of what would become what Johns calls “the Arab contribution to Western culture” and Smith “one of the most significant and lasting contributions of the medieval Muslim world to Christendom.”

It is the story of two golden ages, one Greek and one Islamic. The former degenerated from gold to silver to bronze to iron to iron pyrite; the latter began with the fool’s gold. The mistake of the Islamic philosophers was that they were unwary of Greeks bearing gifts, or, to be precise, of what Islam had stolen. They unwrapped pretty packages labeled “Plato” and “Aristotle” and got Plotinus, Porphyry, and Proclus. They thought they were getting Aristotelianism, but they got Neoplatonism, which is neither Platonic nor Aristotelian.

However, it must be said in extenuation of the Islamic philosophers that they were not alone in their mistake, which to this day clouds the minds of many Christians thought most spiritual, who cannot recognize Neoplatonism, do not know what is wrong with it, and have no idea why they should care. For “what we fondly call ‘primitive’ errors do not pass away,” says C. S. Lewis in Miracles, “They merely change their form.” Moreover, Western philosophers, in contrast to the closed-minded Muslims, have become so open-minded that they will believe anything, particularly if it is not true.

According Cristina D’Ancona in “Greek into Arabic,” a chapter of The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy, among the first works of Greek philosophy translated into Arabic were The Enneads of Plotinus and The Elements of Theology of Proclus. As D’Ancona correctly notes, these are “basic texts of Greek Neoplatonism,” and she says that their early introduction “had long-term consequences for the entire development” of Islamic philosophy.

Islamic philosophers tended to accept the Greek Neoplatonic view that Plato and Aristotle were in fundamental agreement. This view was one of the “general assumptions typical of this first assimilation of Greek thought into an Islamic milieu” that “would remain the trademark of” Islamic philosophy.

Among the Neoplatonic works translated into Syriac or Arabic were those by Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Themistius, Syrianus, Proclus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Simplicius, Philoponus, and Olympiodorus. The most important were those of Plotinus, Porphyry, and Proclus, as they were in the West.

Plotinus was the founder of Neoplatonism, author of The Enneads. The so-called Theology of Aristotle is actually a rearrangement and paraphrase of part of The Enneads. Another rearrangement and paraphrase falsely attributed to Aristotle, this one of Proclus’s Elements of Theology, became The Book of Aristotle’s Exposition of the Pure Good, later translated into Latin as The Book of Causes. Porphyry was Plotinus’s literary executor and the author of the Isagoge, widely read in both East and West as an introduction to Aristotle’s logical works.

Neoplatonism is a long way from the Plato and Aristotle of the fourth century B.C. D. A. Rees has stated the difference between Platonism and Neoplatonism exceedingly well in “Platonism and the Platonic Tradition” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

“Platonists [Neoplatonists] looked for a static body of doctrine...and thus tended to minimize the tentative and less systematic aspect of Plato’s philosophizing.”

The characteristic doctrine of Neoplatonism is emanationism, the idea that the One emanates another like itself but inferior, which in turn emanates yet another like itself but inferior, and so on. Emanationism thus typically ends up devaluing matter and the physical universe, which are at the bottom of the series of emanations, and it tends to merge with Gnosticism, with which it also shares an interest in the occult. Emanationism differs from creation in that emanation is involuntary while creation takes place according to the will of God. Since Islam shares with Christianity a belief in creation, Neoplatonism is fundamentally incompatible with both religions.

One article in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy says that Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.) was the greatest philosopher of Islam; another article says that Averroes (1126-1198 A.D.) was. Be that as it may, between them was Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 A.D.), who vanquished them both.

Avicenna attempted to extend the Neoplatonic Aristotle he inherited into a large and systematic philosophy of his own, Al-Ghazali criticized the elements of Avicenna’s philosophy that he found incompatible with Islam, and Averroes defended Islamic philosophy against Al-Ghazali and commented on Aristotle. The result was that Avicenna dominated the philosophy of the fool’s gold age, Al-Ghazali triumphed, and few paid attention to Averroes.

From Al-Ghazali’s point of view, Avicenna and other Islamic philosophers believed in a watered-down Islam, if they believed in Islam at all, because they argued for an eternal world instead of a created one, denied bodily resurrection, and confined God’s knowledge to universals.

Al-Ghazali was an adherent of occasionalism, the interesting but disastrous belief that the causation we perceive in the world is an illusion since all events are directly caused by God. There is no room in occasionalism for secondary causes or God’s working indirectly. Al-Ghazali even says that when someone is decapitated, it is not correct to say that he died because his head was cut off! Someone who has been beheaded died by his ajal, ajal meaning the time in which God creates in him his death, regardless of whether this occurs with the cutting of the neck, the occurrence of a lunar eclipse, or the falling of rain. All these for us are associated things, not generated acts, except that with some the connection is repeated according to habit but with some they are not repeated.

When I see the works of Al-Ghazali advertised on Islamicist Websites, I wonder whether the terrorist beheaders have read them. Perhaps Osama bin Laden thinks that he bears no responsibility for 9/11, since the passenger jets that crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon are only “associated” with the deaths of that day. So too was the weather or, as Michael Moore points out, the President’s reading to schoolchildren in Florida.

By the twelfth century, Al-Ghazali had won. Islam rejected Neoplatonism and with it philosophy in general, so much so that the Arabic texts of some of Islamic philosophy’s greatest works, for instance, Averroes’s commentaries on Aristotle, were lost, and the works preserved only by means of Latin translations. As a matter of fact, far more Arabic philosophy has been rescued by Latin translations than Greek philosophy rescued by Arabic translations!

Why should we care that dhimmi history has convinced most educated people that Christians lost Aristotle and Muslims restored him to them? Why should we care that they believe in a Golden Age of Islamic philosophy that never occurred? We should care because we should care about the truth, but more than that, because these false beliefs are actually quite dangerous, for in the malignant minds of terrorists, they justify murder. Dhimmi history confirms the sense of superiority Islamofascists feel, it sympathizes with their wounded vanity, it shares their enemies, it reminds them of their past glories, it makes them feel unappreciated, it flatters them, it makes them suspect treachery, and it tells them that they are right.

Dhimmi history has the disastrous effect of heightening the “sense of injur’d merit” that the jihadists feel—along with Milton’s Satan. The lies of dhimmi scholars are, like the borders of Islam, bloody.

For Free Admission Coupons to This Event Click Here.


Back to the Top

Assyrians at Their Best


Engineering Student Crowned Miss Windsor International

Suzan Matti

As a relative newcomer to Canada, Suzan Matti says being named Miss Windsor International was "all about gaining confidence in myself."~

Ms. Matti will compete for the Miss Canada International title in Mississauga this month.

The first-year engineering student, a native of Iraq, came to Canada with her family six years ago. When she heard about the competition, she thought of it as a good opportunity to meet people.

"When I won, it was such a surprise," she says.

Next up is the Miss Canada International contest in Mississauga this August. The competition involves an essay, a math skills test, a fitness test, and interviews on community activities and academic accomplishments. Besides the title, the winner receives a scholarship, which would come in handy for Matti, who plans to follow her engineering degree with law school.

As she lists her activities — serving as a representative with the Engineering Society and the local student branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, volunteering with charities from the Heart and Stroke Foundation to Canadian Blood Services, and singing in her church choir while holding down three part-time jobs — Matti admits she is "not one to sit around."

"I just love meeting people," she says. "So far, being Miss Windsor International has been a great experience."

Back to the Top

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

Fred Aprim California
Tomy Doomany California
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Nahrain E. Kamber California
Nineb Lamassu United Kingdom

ZINDA Magazine is published every Wednesday and Saturday. Views expressed in ZINDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZINDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZINDA reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must be in 500 words or less and bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZINDA is not restricted, but permission from ZINDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. Any material published in Zinda Magazine will not be removed later at the request of the sender. For free subscription to Zinda Magazine, send e-mail with your name, address, telephone number to: zcrew@zindamagazine.com.

ZINDA means "Spark of Fire" in modern Syriac (Assyrian); Zinda's Red Swoosh is a rendering of the seventh letter in the Assyrian alphabet, letter ZEN, and the first letter in the word "Zinda". For more information about the Assyrian culture and heritage write to Zinda Magazine.

Zinda Magazine™ Copyright © Zinda Inc., 1994-2005 - All Rights Reserved - www.zindamagazine.com