5 Ealool 6755
Volume XI

Issue 48

27 August 2005


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Summer is Over and It's Back to the

First Assyrian

School in America

This Week in Zinda

  Discord in the Church Wilfred Bet-Alkhas
The Lighthouse
  Assyrian Church of the East is the National Church of Kurdistan Albert Michael
Good Morning Assyria
  Guarantees Outlined in the Proposed Iraqi Constitution
Assyrian MPs in Iraq Demand Tri-Name
Two Assyrians Shot in Bartilla, One Dead
Assyrians in North Iraq Protest Against Proposed Name
Assyrian Coalition Sends Official Letter Requesting Secularism
An Assyrian Village in Iraq Up For Sale
News Digest
  First Assyrian School in U.S. Opens Doors in So Cal
Pope Benedict XVI Discusses Religious Freedom in Iraq
Dutch TV Airs Special on Tammuz Festival in Urmia, Iran
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!
  In Memoriam of Rab-Khamshi Odisho Moshe
Assyrian National Council of Illinois Election
The Assyrian Church of the East at Work
Tired of Photo-Op Politicians
New Iraq Constitution Must Protect Christians
Why Not Just Iraqi Christians?
Looking For My Roots
I Had to Laugh

Click to Learn More

Surfer's Corner
  Mandaic Language Receives UNESCO Recognition  
  A Sect Facing an Identity Crisis
Constitution May Throw Women's Rights into Stone Age
Dr. George Habash
Jerry McGlothlin
  Boonie Ba-Boona
Back to the Top

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas

Discord in the Church

On a gray afternoon late last October a telephone call from California pulled me away from my dinner plate. The caller sounded distressed: “Mr. Bet-Alkhas, why does Zinda always criticize Church of the East? What about the other churches and bishops? Don’t you think they have problems too?” I responded the same way as I do when I encounter this same question, over and over again: “My dear, because the Church of the East is not just in the business of your spiritual well-being. It’s in the business of the Assyrian politics too.”

Actually every Church, Assyrian or non-Assyrian is in the business of politics. Earlier this week, the American Evangelist Pat Robertson was calling for the assassination of a South American leader. The victory of the Republican Party last year was in large due to the support of the conservative Christian groups, led by a dozen neo-conservative religious leaders and orchestrated by the White House.

The Church has always been in the business of politics. For Assyrians this began with the election of the first patriarch in the first century A.D. At the height of the Islamic Caliphates’ hegemony in the Middle East, the Assyrian Nestorians (there were no Chaldeans in those days) and Jacobites (these days we call them Syriacs or Syriani) were headed by the Patriarchs, who in turn reported to the Arab and later Ottoman (Turkish) Sultans.

This may surprise a few readers (very few I hope), but little has changed since the days of the Millet system. The Patriarch of the Church of the East may act detached from politics today, yet his messengers and bishops carry a different note. Case in point – California!

Last month while visiting his flock in California, Mar Dinkha IV issued a decisive message to his bishops, that a Patriarch does not require his bishops’ permission to visit any locality where his flock reside. He was indirectly referring to the bishop of the Church of the East in the Western United States, His Grace Mar Bawai Soro. Later His Grace explained that his message to the Patriarch was taken out of context and he had never questioned His Holiness’ authority in his jurisdication.

Mar Bawai has been an ardent supporter of the unity of the Assyrian and Chaldean people and churches, placing a determined emphasis on the unifying message that our nation be known as “ChaldoAssyrian” or “KaldoAtooreta”.

Since 2002 a profound struggle has been taking shape within the Church of the East. At stake is the future direction of an ancient and deeply bankrupt institution.

Until now, the Church of the East has been fighting the socio-political effects of the rise of Baathism in Iraq and the Islamic extremism in Iran. Today it finds itself struggling with the rise of Catholicism, Protestant religions and secularism in Iraq; and the possible split between its believers in Baghdad and North Iraq. The Church maintains a friendly relation with the leaders in Iran as illustrated in Mar Dinkha’s recent trip to that country.

The fundamental issue here is the authority of the Patriarch when his bishops applaud political views, in some cases different from that of Mar Dinkha. Mar Bawai preaches pluralism and the unity of the greater Assyrian nation through the merging of the branches of the historical Church established shortly after the first fathers of the Church visited Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia). “At what cost,” ask his critics, who agree with His Grace’s pluralism, but warn against the capitulation of the only “Assyrian” church before another ‘Syriac-speaking’ church which submits to the authority of the Pope in Rome.

Last week two petitions were circling on the Internet and the Assyrian Food Festival held each year in San Jose’s Mar Yosip Cathedral – the official seat of His Grace Mar Bawai. One praising Mar Bawai and the other rejecting his leadership and demanding his removal.

The roots of much of this activity were planted during the October 2003 Baghdad Conference where the term “ChaldoAssyrian” was accepted as a unifying name for the Syriac-speaking population of Iraq. This decision found supporters in the diaspora including Mar Bawai in California. The Patriarch in Chicago remained keenly against this decision. Mar Bawai’s connection to the Chaldean Catholic Church through its controversial person in charge in California, Mar Sarhad Jammo, isolated His Grace Mar Bawai even further. While a few “isolationists” within the Church of the East proclaim Mar Bawai as “un-Assyrian”, his supporters – mainly members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement – hail him as a model spiritual leader with courage to profess unity.

The Church is strong only when its leaders are inspiring and promote unity. The fact of the matter is that both Mar Bawai and Mar Dinkha preach the message of unity. It is the individuals within the Church who roam in the shadows of these two leaders and publish nonsensical petitions to use these two church figures to further their political goals.

Let us not allow the dust raised in California and Australia blind us to what is truly of greater importance, to the Church and to the Assyrian nation in general. The petitions, the accusations against Mar Bawai, the upcoming Holy Synod, and Mar Dinkha’s animated speeches in Sargon Dadesho’s territory are only cover ups for a more intriguing issue requiring greater scrutiny and attention. We begin this week’s issue with a controversial article on the debatable affairs of the Church of the East and the rise of Kurdish power in North Iraq.

I expect many more calls this week and am preparing for late-night dinners for the next few days.


The Lighthouse
Feature Article


Assyrian Church of the East is the National Church of Kurdistan

Albert Michael
Great Britain

As provocative as the title may appear, the signs of our time clearly indicate that this is a design very much past its planning stages and put together by the architects of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). I will attempt to illustrate that the union between Assyrian Church of the East and the KDP is in a manner of speaking a marriage of convenience based on a mutual code of practice, where the subordination of the Church to the KDP is in exchange rewarded with de facto authority as the National Church of Kurdistan.

Through that stealthy authority, the Assyrian Church of the East will acquire complete command and control of our national affairs, very much reminiscent of the theocracies of yesteryear, aided and abetted by the KDP. The single biggest obstacle that stands in the way of that alliance and its success, is the rising tide of ChaldoAssyrian nationalism inspired by the patriotic ideology of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) of bringing together the various segments of our nation into one whole unit. The latter has, as we have seen in recent years, been subjected to a barrage of attacks from Kurdish inspired groups, including Bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East who have formed a bloc under the guise of Assyrian nationalism designed to deflect support and undermine the popularity of the only political movement that has a clear and viable solution for the future of our people. A people often referred to as “One Nation” by both the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha and Mar Emanuel Delli, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, and yet beneath that façade, beneath those sugar coated rhetorical speeches lies a deep resentment of one another, one that has existed for centuries between Rome and the Church of the East.

The conspiracy against our one nation rotates around several key and influential individuals whose bond is based on mutual selfish interests, and their quest as directed by the KDP is in the initial stages, the annihilation of Zowaa and its legacy. I will start off by introducing you to the first of those individuals, he is a person that spent most of his life in the UK and whom recently returned to Arbil, Iraq. One July afternoon in 2002, I bumped into Ninef Matran Hariri during the course of a meeting of an Iraqi political party connected with the former Iraqi opposition group. I was pleasantly surprised to see him at that meeting, because he had never before shown any interest in politics, so I asked him what he was doing at the venue, and to my utter astonishment he responded nonchalantly that he was a member of the KDP. Mr Hariri is a member of the Assyrian Church of the East and is the grandson of Shlimon the brother of Mar Yousip – a saint of the modern era. He has also been appointed as an “Advisor on Christian Affairs to the KDP”. A while back, I came across a fascinating article written by Mr Hariri in which he states that Assyria is modern day Kurdistan and its inhabitants are Kurdistanis, but more importantly as an advisor on Christian affairs he clearly reveals his bias, and attempts throughout his article to demonstrate why the Assyrian Church of the East is the National Church of Kurdistan. The following is the full text of that article published in the Hewler (Kurdified name of Arbil) Globe on Sunday May 29, 2005, titled “The Ethnicity of Christians in Kurdistan”.

The Kurdistan region has eight Christian denominations; 'The Assyrian Church of the East', 'The ancient Assyrian Church of the East', 'The Chaldean Catholic Church', 'The Syrian Orthodox Church', and 'The Syrian Catholic Church'. These five Churches are Semitic and use Syriac as their liturgical language. The other three; 'The Armenian Orthodox Church', 'The Armenian Catholic Church', 'The New Advent Church'. These three Churches are Arian and use Armenian and Kurdish respectively as their liturgical Language. The focus of this report is on the ethnicity of the Syriac Churches, which form the majority bloc of Christians in Kurdistan.

All of these five Churches have four things in common; Firstly, they are the aboriginals of Kurdistan and have continually inhabited it since at least the 'Assyrian Empire'. Secondly, their mother tongue is Syriac, similar to ancient 'Assyrian'. Thirdly, they are all ex-members of the 'Church of The East', rooted in 'Assyria'. Fourthly, they are all of Semitic stock and so cannot be ethnically Kurdish, (the Kurds are of Aryan stock, or at least have been Arianized by Indo-European Invaders). So given the facts why do the Chaldean and Syrian Churches refuse to unite under the Assyrian banner. There are two self-made obstacles to this unity.

First the name by which all three Churches refer to themselves is 'Soorayeh' or in English 'Syriacs' and secondly, the interference of Church leaders in national politics, particularly 'Rome'. Why have they chosen 'Syriac' the name of their language as their national identity, instead of their proper geographical name 'Assyria'? Possibly, out of fear of the ancient Medes and Chaldeans who overthrew the Assyrian Empire, its inhabitants named themselves after their newly acquired language, a sort of compromise between accepting the new kingdoms identity and letting go of their old Assyrian tag. Or perhaps the term was used by the succeeding empires to distinguish them from the Aryan community whose land they shared. It seems they were stuck between two worlds. Could that same dilemma be true today? It seems so. So, are they Assyrian, Syriac, or Kurdistani?

'The Assyrian Church of the East' (as well as the 'Ancient Assyrian Church of the East' which is just a small splinter group form this Church) realized this with the enlightenment of the British Missioners in the 19th Century and naturally reverted to their original ethnic name 'Assyrian', however privately they still occasionally refer to themselves as 'Soorayeh'. 'The Syrian Church' (Orthodox and Catholic) don't deny their Assyrian heritage, but insist on using the term 'Syrian', which means Syriac in 'Arabic', this title was also encouraged by the 'Greeks' (the Greek word for 'Assyrian' is 'Syrian'), Their identity matters little though to Kurdistan as they number less than a thousand souls. 'The Chaldean Catholic Church', out of the three Churches of Assyrian origin, blatantly deny their habitual geo-historic location 'Assyria'. The fear of reverting to their original Nationality might subsequently lead to the abandonment of their Catholic faith and to the return to the 'Assyrian Church of the East', which they were members of, for one thousand eight hundred years.

The Catholic hierarchy would not be pleased; if they adopt the 'Assyrian' nationality then they automatically qualify as Kurdistanis because Assyria is now called Kurdistan. Chaldea on the other hand is now the heartland of Arab Shiites, an area between Baghdad and Basra, far far away. It's a fact; Pope Julius III gave the term 'Chaldean' to the new 'Catholic Church of the East' in 1553, to differentiate them from the 'Assyrian Church of the East'. The Pope unwittingly re-named a Nation, instead of a new Catholic Rite for the East. Now, Chaldeans have taken it a step further, they claim they originate from 'Babylon' the 'Chaldean Capital' and have at some point in history immigrated to Kurdistan. However, their claim is fraudulent, as there is not a single piece of historical text referring to the Syriacs of Kurdistan as 'Chaldeans' prior to 1553, and they don't have a shred of evidence to prove that they emigrated from southern Iraq to Kurdistan. Yet, they insist on their Chaldean ethnicity, the truth is their brand of faith might be labeled 'Chaldean' but they are the ancestors of Assyrian land and modern day Kurdistan, whether they care for it or not.

The 'Chaldeans' are in a dilemma, a catch 22 situation. If they admit to their 'Assyrian' origin then they have to admit to being ex-founder members of 'The Church of the East'. If they deny it, then unlike the Assyrians they are aliens to Kurdistan and not of 'Northern stock'. So maybe, their southern roots might explain why they voted for Ayad Allawi rather than Masoud Barzani. During the Saddam years, they ticked 'Arab' in Iraqi census reports, rather than being labeled Assyrian. They have for a long time shrugged off unity with the Assyrians. Kurdistan could be next to feel the resoluteness of the Chaldean Christian. Their lack of confidence in their 'Chaldean' identity is very evident; they have only one small insignificant political party formed two years ago and no Chaldean schools or Satellite TV stations. Compared to Assyrians, who have at least four well established political parties and three ministerial posts, dozens of independent schools dedicated to teaching the Assyrian Language, two international Satellite TV stations, one national TV station, newspapers, magazines and much more besides.

Keep in mind as well, that Assyrians are a fraction of the Chaldean consistency in Kurdistan. The majority of Assyrians on the other hand are happy to consider themselves Kurdistani before being Iraqi.They have continued to support the Kurdistan Democratic Party since its inception in 1946 and have given numerous Martyrs including, Margaret George, Hormiz Malik Chiko and Franso Hariri, to name a few. To this day, the KDP has a number of Senior Posts held by Assyrians, whilst the Chaldean population who outnumber them 3to1 have very few if any Party members at all. It's worth noting that a large number of Kurds were originally Christian and members of 'The Church of the East' (Kanisey Rojhalat) before converting to Islam, including the inhabitants of the infamous 'Barzan' Area. Kurdistan is littered with hundreds of old monasteries and churches every single one belonging to 'The Church of the East', in fact, there are few villages without having at least a trace of an old church, or 'Dair' as it's called locally. Since the 'Syrian Church' has its roots elsewhere in the Middle East and since 'Chaldea' is not within the borders of Kurdistan, and Rome, well, it's nearly a million miles from 'Arbil'. One must then assume 'The Assyrian Church of the East' is 'The National Church of Kurdistan' because 'Assyria' is simply the ancient geographical name of 'Kurdistan'.

I find the arrogance of Mr. Hariri simply beyond belief; the majority of Assyrians will never accept being referred to as Kurdistanis, just as the Kurds will never refer to themselves as Iraqis, or Iranians, or Turks or Syrians, or even Assyrians. It is however true that certain Assyrians hold senior positions within the KDP. An Assyrian, Mr. Sarkis Aghajan Mamendu is the deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan regional government and is the man behind the recently launched (currently in test mode) Ishtar TV, a KDP propagandist satellite station created to neutralize Ashur TV. The other high-ranking Assyrian official of the KDP is Mr. Fawzi Toma, or Harriri as he likes to be called, but for the sake of clarity and not to confuse one Hariri with another, I will from henceforth refer to him as Mr Toma. As a member of the KDP’s foreign relations bureau and now working closely alongside Mr. Hoshyar Zebari (KDP) the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Mr. Toma has emerged as the kingpin of the fusion between the Assyrian Church of the East and the KDP. Having failed to manipulate a few Assyrian activists from the UK to form an Iraqi based (Arbil) political party in 1992, Mr. Toma turned his attention to Dr Sargon Dadesho and soon thereafter Bet Nahrain Democratic Party (BNDP - Iraq) was established. Similarly in 2001, the Chaldean Democratic Party (CDP) was fashioned by Mr. Toma whom installed Mr. Abd Alahad Afram, a member of the KDP as its secretary-general. These attempts were clearly designed to subdue the efforts of Zowaa in instituting a new political order to break free from the centuries old divisions created by the Church, and all - Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac to march together as one nation with one political agenda. It is therefore natural that groups like Dr Dadesho’s BNDP and Mr Afram’s CDP are today opposing the unity of our nation, with one vying for Assyrian and the other Chaldean only designation – just as Mr. Toma expects.

I do not condemn, nor will I judge Mr. Hariri, Mr. Mamendu or Mr. Toma for their opposition towards our nations quest for unity and national rights because they are merely pursuing their official party policy. They have chosen their path freely and have revealed their stance openly, so until such time as the KDP supports, and no longer hinders our national aspirations, we must tread carefully and not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of tribalism, bigotry, nor the lure of riches and power to tempt us away towards the backdoor of our nations ill wishers. Whilst we know who these individuals are and their political inclination, it is elsewhere we need to look, a search deep inside our own communities rooted into all of our institutions, religious, political and social, to identify the conspirators, those who put personal interests before their nation.

The person that intrigues me most is the current Deputy Secretary-General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) Mr. Praidon Darmo. Since Mr. Darmo is a public figure and is second in command in one of the oldest Assyrian political parties, it is my rightful duty (and yours too) to obtain a public clarification from him about his association with Mr. Toma and the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. As far back as I can remember, Mr. Darmo has acted as a secretary to Mar Dinkha, he has accompanied him on many official visits – including a meeting with the former Pope, now deceased, John Paul II. This relationship continues to this very day. My other curiosity that raises some serious questions is his very close relationship with Mr. Toma. Is this a business relationship, or something much more sinister along the lines of what Mr. Hariri wrote? Also, does he not believe that taking into consideration, particularly the recent oppression by the KDP on the ChaldoAssyrians in the plains of Nineveh should serve as a sign to him that his links with Mr.Toma, at least for the time being, are not conducive to the plight of our nation?

I believe that the Assyrian Church of the East feels threatened by the wave of nationalism, that their authority is somewhat challenged, power subsiding, and since they do not have the resources of the Vatican backed Chaldean Catholic Church they feel inclined towards subordination – as long as they maintain their authority! If this is true, and only time will tell, will they then guarantee that another massacre will not befall our nation? The divisions in our nation that we see today cost us tremendously in the past, have we still not learnt from those bitter memories?

Finally I would like to say that all those that oppose the unifying ChaldoAssyrian designation, particularly the Bishops of the Church of the East, Dr Dadesho and the AUA, do so because they oppose the union of our nation and not the heralded Assyrianism that they trumpet. In fact, in my opinion these people, whether they understand it or not, are very much anti- Assyrian. When we consider that the plains of Nineveh is almost exclusively inhabited by the Chaldeans and Syriacs, one wonders just where the Assyrian region will be established. Surely these groups understand the demographics of that region, so just how do they propose redressing the status quo? We hear and read their pleas to the Iraqi authorities for constitutional recognition of the Assyrian name and national rights, but I’ve yet to see a detailed plan from them, one that will allay the fears and suspicion of many of us, that the ultimate aim is to institute the Assyrian Church of the East as the National Church of Kurdistan.

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

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Guarantees Outlined in the Proposed Iraqi Constitution

According to the proposed Iraqi constitution: No laws may contradict the democratic standards outlined in the constitution, yet Islam shall be the main source of legislation. Iraq is a part of the Islamic world and the Arabs in Iraq are part of the greater Arab nation. The Turkomen and Assyrian languages are the official languages in the Turkomen and Assyrian areas, and each territory or province has the right to use its own official language if residents have approved in a general referendum vote. Iraqis are free to abide in their personal lives according to their religion, sects, beliefs or choice. Holy shrines and religious places in Iraq are civic and religious institutions. The state is obligated to ensure and safeguard their sanctuary and to ensure the practice of any religious ceremonies within them.

Assyrian MPs in Iraq Demand Tri-Name

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  As noted in Zinda Magazine's Editorial on 20 August, five of the six Assyrian representatives in the Iraqi National Assembly on 15 August in a memo to the parliament demanded the use of the title "Chaldean Assyrian Suryani" to designate the Syriac-speaking people of Iraq (click here) . The five members are Mr. Goriel Esho Khamis, Ms. Jacklin Zomaya, Ms. Wijdan Michael, Mr. Nori Potrus Atto, and Mr. Yonadam Kanna.  The sixth member, Mr. Abd al-Ahad Afram declined to sign the memo.

The following is Zinda Magazine's unauthorized translation of this letter from Arabic:

The Respected Constitution Committee Members

Subject: The Naming of Our People in the Constitution

Following the salutations.

We, the representatives of the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac people in the Iraqi National Assembly, would like to emphasize that the difficult situations ([such as] ethnic oppression, religious differences, and foreign powers) that have befallen our people, have assisted in the existence of its multiple names of Chaldeans and Assyrians and Syriacs.

Whereas, all the necessary foundations for a unified nationality such as the language, history, land, culture, customs and traditions, and religion exist within us and jointly among all of us as One People and One Nationality; we observe that the name of our people as it appears in the draft of the Constitution as 'Chaldeans and Assyrians and Syriacs' assists in the separation and divergence (de-unification) of our people.

Hence, we recommend the removal of the "And" that has appeared between the different names of our people to make the name (Chaldeans Assyrians Syriacs) which is in accordance with the desires of the majority of our people regarding this subject.

Thank you.

Ms. Jacklin Qawsen Zoumaya signed her name under that the issue would be further studied by specialists and archaeologists.  Mr. Nouri Butros Atto signed his name under the condition that the title "Chaldeans" appear first.

Zinda Magazine has learned that Mr. Nimrud Baito, the head of the Assyrian Patriotic Party, has since discredited the condition put forth by Ms. Zoumaya, also a member of the APP, by signing a memorandum in support of the original language of this letter.

Translations from Arabic courtesy of the Associated Press and special to Zinda Magazine, Misters Fred Aprim and George Stifo.

Two Assyrians Shot in Bartilla, One Dead

Courtesy of the Assyrian International News Agency
27 August 2005

(ZNDA: Bartilla)  Witnesses in Bartilla reported yesterday that a group of Peshmarga fighters (Kurdish fighters under the name of Iraqi National Guards) killed 37 year old Nabil Akram Amona by shooting him in the head execution style. Mr. Amona, a father of two, was filling his car with gasoline at the local gas station when the Peshmarga militia drove in, ran from their car to the gas pump and took the gas nozzle out of his car. Seconds later, they put a gun to his head and shot him. A second Assyrian, Matta Shamoun Zora Sha'ya who attempted to bring Mr. Amona to the hospital was also shot to the head twice. Mattai, a father of 4, who is the nephew of the local Syriac Orthodox bishop of Mar Matti Monastery, is in serious condition in the Nineveh hospital. Eyewitnesses heard the militia speaking Kurdish and have seen them come in regularly to steal the gasoline and natural gas from this government station to sell it on the black-market.

The murder is widely seen as a retaliation for the anti-constitution protests the Assyrians held two days earlier (read further in this section). The Kurds have voted for the constitution in their regional government.

The Kurdistan Democratic party, which funds and controls the Peshmerga, has been stepping up its aggression by arresting Assyrians for no apparent reason and at times beating them severely. On August 19th Sahir Ibrahim Shamoun, a native of Bartilla, was kidnapped and beaten with the base of pistols until he lost consciousness, and was left paralyzed from the beating.

Assyrians in North Iraq Protest Against Proposed Name in Iraqi Constitution

                                                                          Demonstrators in Tellesqof

(ZNDA: Baghdeda)  This week thousands of Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) demonstrated in Baghdeda and Tellesqof protesting against the exclusion of the name "Syriac" in the proposed Iraqi constitution.

Baghdeda is the largest Assyrian town in north Iraq. Demonstrators had also come from Bartella, Karamlesh, Ba'sheqa, Bahzani and other regions in the Nineveh Plains to reject Article 135 of the proposed Iraqi constitution:

Article 135:   This constitution guarantees the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of different ethnic groups such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians and other groups.

The demonstrators send a letter of protest to the President of Iraq, the Prime Minister, the Head of the Iraqi National Assembly, the Constitution Committee, United Nations' representative, and Human Rights groups. In their letter, the demonstrators rejected article 135 of the draft, which refers to the Syriac-speaking population as "Chaldeans and Assyrians". The demonstrators were demanding that they be referred to as “Chaldean Syriac Assyrian”.

Similarly in Tellesqof, hundreds of Assyrians demonstrated to reject article 135 and sent a letter to Iraqi officials demanding that the Syriac-speaking Christians be referred to as "Chaldean Syriac Assyrian".

                      Demonstrations in Baghdeda (Qarqosh) in support of 'Chaldean Syriac Assyrian' Name

Assyrian Coalition Sends Official Letter Requesting Secular Constitution

(ZNDA: Chicago) A coalition of 16 Assyrian organizations from Europe, America and the Middle East sent a letter to the Iraqi government, requesting that the rights of Assyrians be recognized and the new iraqi constitution be secular. The letter also asks for a guarantee of cultural and political rights and the return of expropriated villages to Assyrians.  The following is the full text of the letter:

August 19, 2005

His Excellency, Mr. Jalal Talabani, President of the Republic of Iraq
The Honorable Dr. Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Prime Minister
The Honorable Dr. Hajim Mahdi Al Husni, President of the National Assembly
Samahat Al-Sheik Dr. Humam Al Hamoudi, Chairman of the Constitution Committee


Our people (Chaldean Assyrian Syriac) are the indigenous inhabitants of Iraq and our ancestors were the first to establish civilization and a political system beginning with the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians. Our people continued to actively contribute to civilization during the Islamic period. The role of our people is well known in the translation of our culture as well as other cultures into Arabic through our Aramaic/Syriac language. This language remained the official language of the whole region for centuries.

After the fall of the political entity in Nineveh and Babylon, our people were exposed to all sorts of oppression, killing, assimilation, and forced migration culminating in the Simele Massacre of 1933 in which thousands of innocent elderly, women, and children were killed. These factors and ongoing prejudice, contributed to the forcible migration of many of our people. Demographically, our numbers became a small minority of approximately five per cent. This small figure ought not to be reason to ignore our national and human rights in our own country.

The Chaldean Assyrian Syriac communities in the Diaspora fraternally request the rights of our people be protected in the Constitution clearly and unambiguously so that our past tragedy will not be repeated, and so as to rebuild our future in the new Iraq alongside our fellow Iraqis based on principles of democracy, secularism, and human rights.

As a result we are requesting the incorporation of the following into the permanent Iraqi Constitution:

  1. Designate our united name and national identity in the Constitution as (Chaldean Assyrian Syriac).
  2. Recognize our people as the indigenous people of Iraq, and Syriac as the language and culture of the country and preserve it according to international standards on indigenous peoples.
  3. Guarantee that our political, cultural, and administrative rights as noted in the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) be established in the Nineveh Plain and in the areas in which we constitute a majority within whatever form of federalism is agreed upon.
  4. Guarantee that we are represented according to our percentage in the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government.
  5. Grant citizenship to any our people who have emigrated including their children and grandchildren and return citizenship to any Iraqis whose citizenship has been revoked since the establishment of Iraq most specifically including the victims of the 1933 massacre.
  6. Return lands and villages that were expropriated or forcibly taken because of various circumstances in Iraq to their rightful owners.
  7. Guarantee secularism and justice, equality, and civil rights for all.

We trust that these requests will be supported by you for inclusion in the permanent Iraqi Constitution.

With our regards

Mr. Abgar Maloul
Coordinator in United States of America
Fax: 847-933-1776
E mail abgarmaloul@yahoo.com

Yousif Esho
Coordinator in Europe
Fax: 4687103156
E mail Esho_y@hotmail.com


- Assyrian Democratic Organisation (ADO) – In Exile
- Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) – Abroad sections
- Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP) - In Exile
- Assyrian Federation in Europe (ZAVD)
- Assyrian Youth Federation in Europe
- Tour Abdin Federation in Holland
- Assyrian Society of the United Kingdom
- Institut Assyrien d’Europe (INASE)
- Assyrian Federation in Sweden (ARS)
- Assyrian Youth Federation in Sweden (AUF)
- Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Association in Sweden (ACSA)
- Assyrian Women Federation in Sweden
- ChaldoAssyrian National Council of America (CANCA)
- Bet-Nahrain National Quest
- ChaldoAssyrian Syriac National Council of America
- Assyrian American National Federation (AANF)

An Assyrian Village in Iraq Up For Sale

(ZNDA: Mosul)  The single owner of the village of Ain Baqra, in southeast of the town of Alqosh in north Iraq, has put his 430-acre village for sale.

Since the residents of the village are unable to purchase the village from the owner, they have notified Assyrians in the diaspora for assistance, beginning with the Assyrian Federation in Sweden.

Ain Baqra has an area of 430 acres and the owner's asking price at press time is US$ 410,000.00 [four hundred and ten thousand U.S. dollars].

After the Baqubah camp was broken-up in 1920 the Assyrians of Nahra were settled in no less than four villages between the towns of Ain-Sifni and Alqosh north of Mosul. The majority of these were settled in Ain-Baqre, an old Assyrian village with a name meaning the “cattle spring”.

The villages existed peacefully until August 1933 when they were attacked by the Iraqi army, reinforced by Arab and Kurdish mercenaries. Their inhabitants were forced to flee to nearby Alqosh for safety. The Nahraye of Ain-Baqre, on their way to Alqosh, stopped in the village of Makana, which was inhabited by Assyrians from Zir. They stopped there when one of the men of Makana, Gulyad, suggested that the refugees stay instead of moving on to Alqosh.

The next day Makana was surrounded by Iraqi Government troops aided by Arabs and Kurds – altogether numbering over 150. The 22 brave fighting men barricaded the village and defended it as best they could from Thursday until Saturday.

Although they killed 72 Arabs and Kurds the Assyrian fighters were not even wounded. While fighting they sent the women and children to Alqosh. When their ammunition finally ran out and there was no longer any hope of maintaining the besieged village, the men devised a new plan. All the animals of the village were let out of their stables and pens, attracting the attention of the mercenaries who at once leapt to steal them. This was the diversion needed for the men to escape and join their families in Alqosh.

In Alqosh the villagers hid them from the Iraqi forces at the expense of their own lives. They fed them, sheltered them and even clothed them in the local garb so as not to arouse suspicion. Their villages were sacked and burnt to the ground. The Nahraye never returned and Assyrians from Asheetha settled the villages a few decades later.

After 1933 the Assyrians of Nahra were dispersed. The majority left for Syria but many also went south, settling in Baghdad and Hinaidi, and later Habbaniya and Basra. Those Nahraye who went to Syria established the village of Tell-Goran (Lower Jilwaye) on the northern bank of the Khabour River in 1935 and built 25 new houses.

The Assyrian clans in Ain-Baqra included Be-Lachin, Be-Chalabi, Be-Khazi, Be-Gulawi, Be-Warda, Be-Tammu, and Be-Yaqqu.

The pictures above show notable villagers from Nahra in Iraq in the 1930s, and also offer us a glimpse at the way they used to dress. Left: Ishu Mirza Be-Gulawi with his wife (and first cousin) Tarzu Yawnan Be-Gulawi (Special thanks to Shemasha Edward Patros Be-Gulawi). Right: Sawa Matloub Be-Khazi and Gule Brikha Be-Khazi with their children Musa and Esther (Special thanks to Mrs. Nargis Wanna). Sawa was one of the village’s greatest fighters and often accompanied Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Shimun as a bodyguard. His most well known achievement was helping to defend a supply train on its way to Baquba when Arab tribesmen attacked it in 1919. His daughter Esther is still alive and resides in Tell-Goran, Syria.

Zinda Magazine thanks Mr. Nicholas Al-Jeelo for the historical data on the village of Ain-Baqra.

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First Assyrian School in U.S. Opens Doors in Southern California

(ZNDA: Los Angeles)  The Opening Ceremonies of the first Assyrian school in the United States took place on Sunday, 21 August, in the city of Tarzana, California where the St. Mary's Parish of the Church of the East is located.  The Assyrian American Christian School is built adjacent to the St. Mary's Parish.

To mark the occasion His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, celebrated Qurbana Qadeesha (Holy Mass) at St. Mary's Parish during the ceremonies and cut the blue ribbon symbolic of the opening of the first Assyrian church under the auspices of the Church of the East.

Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East (left) and Rev. Rev. George Bet Rasho of St. Mary's Assyrian Church of the East in Tarzana, California at the Opening Ceremonies of the first Assyrian school in the United States (photo courtesy of Lena Mushell).

Pope Benedict XVI Discusses Religious Freedom in Iraq

Pope Benedict XVI (L) talks with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. The pontiff discussed religious freedom in Iraq during an audience with Zebari. (AFP/Pool/Andreas Solaro)

(ZNDA: Rome)  Last Thursday Pope Benedict XVI discussed religious freedom in Iraq in an audience with the country's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

The two men discussed Iraq's draft constitution as well as "the important theme of religious freedom," Vatican spokesman Ciro Benedettini said.

Benedict emphasized that the reconstruction of Iraq "must come about in a climate of dialogue which involves all the religious groups and the various components of society," Benedettini said in a statement released following the meeting at the pope's summer residence outside Rome.

The Iraqi minister also had talks later with Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Sodano at the Vatican, he added.

Iraq is an overwhelmingly Muslim country with a tiny Christian minority of around three percent, most of them Chaldean Catholics who recognize Rome.

Benedict's predecessor John Paul II last year condemned a spate of bomb attacks targeting Christian churches in Iraq which killed more than a dozen worshippers and left more than 50 wounded.

Dutch TV Airs Special on Tammuz Festival in Urmia, Iran

Ms. Attiya Gamri (left) and a few Assyrians from Tehran. Ms Gamri, an Assyrian Dutch politician, visited Iran during the Tammuz Festival held every July in Urmia.

(ZNDA: Holland)  On 27 August, the Dutch national TV-2 broadcast a special program on the Assyrians in Iran and the Tammuz Festival held each year in Urmia.  The program aired on Nederland 2 after the 6 pm news.

The program followed the Assyrian-Dutch politician, Attiya Gamri, to Urmia.  Ms. Gamri visited the Assyrians in Iran and spend two weeks this summer in Tehran and Urmia. 

In Urmia, she visited the villages of Sangar, Mar Sargiz, Ada, and Goytapa.

Ms. Garmi's trip in July also brought greater attention from the Dutch media on the human rights of the Assyrians in Iran and Urmia in particular.  Several articles have already been published on the topic of human rights of the Assyrians in the Dutch newspapers. Two Dutch journalists, Annemieke Veltman and Joce S. also spent two weeks in Urmia and Teheran.

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Your Letters to the Editor


In Memoriam of Rab-Khamshi Odisho Moshe

Gaby Kiwarkis

Rab-Khamshi Odisho Moshe

I regret to announce the passing away of Officer Odisho Moshe in Fairfield, Sydney. Rab-Khamshi Moshe died earlier this week and was buried on Thursday, August 25th.

Mr Odisho Moshe was born in 1919 in Baqubah, Iraq. He joined the Iraq Levies in 1937 as a private and rose through the ranks until the disbandment of the Levies Force in 1955 and was discharged holding the rank of Rab-Khamshi.  In 1941 as a Corporal he was engaged in the defense of Habbanyia and the subsequent decisive attack on Falluja by a contingent of Assyrian Levies. His bravery was not limited to his youth. During the Iran- Iraq war, as a civilian, he was awarded a bravery medal for surveying a bridge vital to Iraq under heavy artillery fire. At the age of 84 he led the Assyrian contingent in the annual ANZAC [veterans] parade in Sydney for three consecutive years.

A true officer and a Gentleman, he will be sadly missed.

The term "Rab-Khamshi" refers to a platoon commander, the leader of 50 Levy fighters.  


Assyrian National Council of Illinois Election

Polous Gewargis

A 15-member committee of the Assyrian National Council of Illinois will be elected this Sunday, who will then elect a president and vice president from among themselves. Every Assyrian or half-Assyrian over 18 years of age and living in Illinois may vote.

I will appreciate if you would please publish these names at your magazine as soon as possible ... so your respected readers from Illinois can have a clear idea who they will vote for. The names are:

1) Salomon Abraham #1
2) Adad Ashurseen #4
3) Hanny Baba #5
4) Peter Bobo #6
5) Zaya Daoud #9
6) Nina Dekelaita #10
7) Ninos Lazar #16
8) Sheba Mando #17
9) Sargon Marano #18
10) Agnes Merza #20
11) Aprim Rasho #22
12) Sabah Shamoon #24
13) Ben Toma #25
14) Samir Younan #27
15) Ashour Zaia #29

The Assyrian Church of the East at Work

Isho Callo

Hear yeh, hear yea, a dream has come true!

Last Sunday was a historic day for all of us in the greater Los Angeles area. Beloved Assyrians from all over the area, other parts of California, other parts of the United States, and even from abroad, rocked St. Mary’s Assyrian Church of the East in Tarzana. White doves and colored balloons covered the blue skies of the City of Angels. The sounds of cheering, Dawoola and Zoorna, and ringing church bells indicated an extraordinary occasion taking place at the church. Indeed, this was a great new beginning and a new chapter in the history of our lives.

His Holiness, Mar Dinkha IV, our beloved Patriarch, had flown in from Australia a few days prior to Sunday. He had opened a new school there, and now, he was opening another one right here in Los Angeles. Truly, it was a great moment to see His Holiness cutting the ceremonial ribbon and blessing us with the very first Assyrian school in the United States of America.

In the evening, His Holiness told us about his busy schedule and his trips to various countries, in particular, a church in the Australian diocese that has been very hard at work. On this evening, he reiterated one of the more common of his themes; that if there is obedience and trust, there will be progress. We the people and members of St. Mary’s Assyrian Church in Los Angeles are eyewitnesses of this fact. The history of our beloved parish is living proof that obedience and trust have momentum.

Much more can be said, but this properly serves our purpose. Whoever has ears, let them hear!

Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East blesses the students attending the academic year 2005-2006 at the Assyrian Christian School opening ceremonies (photo courtesy of Lena Mushell).

Tired of Photo-Op Politicians

Tony Kilaita

The article by Emanuel Kelaita was very inspiring, daring and truthful. It is time to wake up and ask the Church leaders of all religious denominations to lay off leading political agendas by provoking certain people in this political party or the other.

We are no longer in the Middle Ages, there are situations nowadays such as the critical political events in Iraq requires political leaders to run the policy and to lead the effort in getting our national rights. Please lead the churches by preaching the word of God. Please call on unity of churches as we have one Christ.

Also, I ask all the ChaldoAssyrians to support political parties who are presently on the field struggling in Iraq such as ZOWAA and others. We are tired of Photo-Op political organizations such as AUA and others in Diaspora.

We have really one chance left, I am referring to the Assyrian Chaldean Syriany unity unity in the upcoming constitution election / referendum"ONE VOICE, ONE PEOPLE". Please do not listen to anybody when it comes to politics, please use your common sense.

New Iraq Constitution Must Protect Christians

Alda Benjamen

The fate of millions of Iraqis hangs in the balance as politicians appear poised to introduce a new constitution for the country.

This constitution represents freedom for the Iraqi people from more than 30 years of oppression and injustice under the Ba'ath Party and marks the birth of a new society based on equality.

The constitution is not merely words on paper. Rather, its application is what will truly define it and will make Iraq a free and democratic country, a rarity in the Middle East.

Its success will be measured not in the amount of time it takes to finish, not in the number of votes it receives, and not in the successful party who adopts its principles, but in its application.

It is when the human rights of an individual, regardless of religion or ethnic background, are protected by this constitution that we can declare it successful and democratic.

It is when an Assyrian (also known as Chaldean or Syriac) woman living in her homeland in northern Iraq is free to wear a Christian cross around her neck and knows that she has just as much right to life as the Shiite woman who wears the Islamic veil.

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For it is the Assyrians, the indigenous Christian people of Iraq, who most need this constitution to be successful.

It is they who have been butchered, not only under Saddam Hussein's rule, but also by the Ottoman Empire of Turkey and the Kurds for generations, simply because of their separate religious and ethnic identity.

It is they who, to this day, are singled out and treated as less than human; when their churches are destroyed, their women forced to wear the Islamic veil, their villages uprooted and their businesses targeted by extremists.

Amnesty International has noted many of these injustices, which also include assassinations of political leaders and the slaying of nuns and priests. This constitution will not only be necessary to secure the basic human rights of the Assyrians but is essential for their survival in the country.

As the indigenous people of Iraq, we have suffered from the forced Arabization drives of Saddam's regime. Further back in time, our people were killed alongside the Armenians and Greeks during the 1915-1918 genocide by the Turkish and Kurdish forces of the Ottoman Empire, the first recorded genocide of the 20th century.

Close to 750,000 Assyrians, or two-thirds of our population at that time, were slaughtered in what is internationally recognized as the Armenian genocide.

Yet again, more than 3,000 villagers were massacred in 1933 in Simile, north of Iraq by the Iraqi army. Attacks targeting our people are still being carried out today.

Between August and October of 2004, more than nine churches were bombed in two separate incidents. Many parishioners were killed and others injured during these terrorist attacks.

Because of these attacks and constant threats, rapes and abductions, more than 40,000 Assyrian Christians have fled Iraq for Syria.

It is now obvious why this is such a crucial time for the Assyrians of Iraq.

Will the constitution acknowledge people who suffered under the former Iraqi regime, other than the Kurds and Shiites? Will it guarantee seats for our people in the National Assembly and give us appropriate representation?

Will it ensure that we no longer remain a voiceless community that has been forcibly kept as an under-represented part of the Iraqi population?

Given the magnitude of the brutality against Assyrians, it is crucial that our rights to practise our religion and teach our Syriac language be guaranteed. It is also necessary that the Assyrians secure an administrative region in Iraq as stated in the Transitional Administrative Law, Article 53(D). This law guarantees the administrative, cultural and political rights of our people and other minority groups in Iraq.

Assyrians now stand at the crossroads. We do not want history to repeat itself. We need to remind ourselves that although it is the majority that rules in a democracy the voices of the minority cannot be ignored.

Ms. Alda Benjamen is a member of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Union of Canada.  Her letter also appears in the August 23rd edition of the Toronto Star.

Why Not Just Iraqi Christians?

Stafford Clarry
New York

Would not the term 'Iraqi Christian' (IC) be the best collective term to use? 'IC' would distinguish and maximize a group in Iraq with common interests, their faith and the right to conduct themselves and their lives in a manner consistent with their faith.

Trying to determine and apply an ethnicity term appears to be very controversial and divisive. Some Christians agree, some disagree. Both sides have their reasons.

IC is a unifying term. It includes all Christians, not just Chaldeans and Assyrians and Syriacs. It would also include Roman Catholics (RCs) and Armenians and all other Christian groups that may be residing in Iraq.

More effort needs to be expended on unifying the Christian community and not entertaining controversial terms that divide them.

No doubt, ICs have issues to be addressed. So do other people and groups in Iraq. In order for ICs to draw attention and get their particular issues properly addressed it seems to me they have to become united on the one feature they can agree on and which distinguishes them from other groups who have different issues to be addressed, and that is their faith, not their ethnicity.

For example, whatever their ethnicity may be, the Shabak, Kakayee, and Yezidi distinguish themselves based on their faith. Why not the Iraqi Christians?

Since ICs are located throughout Iraq from Basra to Baghdad to Zakho they need to be united and represented in a manner so that their interests and lifestyles are promoted and protected, and their issues are properly addressed.

Because ICs are scattered throughout Iraq, though concentrated more in some places, I have a hard time understanding how the establishment of a distinctive safe area will promote and protect their interests, and get their issues addressed. Does this imply that some ICs will leave their homes and homelands where they have resided for decades and centuries and emigrate to a strange haven?

In some secure and stable areas of Iraq from which ICs have emigrated this is now a most opportune time to return and invest before prices rise too much and opportunities vanish. In the mountains there are many empty Christian areas which are now more accessible than ever.

These areas are beautiful and prime country for resorts, spas, private schools, orchards and vineyards, upscale enterprises like gourmet fruit and milk products, fine wools, etc. that would distinguish the Iraqi Christian community and provide them with very lucrative incomes. The areas are vast and just waiting to be developed.

Delegations should come and urgently visit the safe, secure, and stable areas and make assessments and plans to return, invest, and prosper.

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Looking For My Roots

Samuel Yalap

The Assyro-Chaldeans have been dispersed on earth for decades. We maintain close relations to Turkey, Iraq, Syria or Iran; while we live at the fine places in Illinois in the United States or in some Parisian suburbs in France. What also happens to us is that we lose the traces of our close relations. Sometimes, our grandparents forget entirely to tell us.  Sometimes they forget such and such member of the family who is at the other end of the planet. They know and it is not very important for them. But for us, that becomes quickly existential.

                   Khoudeda Toma

And a time comes when we need to find our roots. It is in this situation that I find myself. I tell you my history: my paternal grandfather, Khoudeda Toma from the village of Eschy (in the southeast of Turkey), left us at the age of 93, carrying with him priceless secrets of our history, but also our close relations are dispersed in the world. A few weeks ago, Bahho, the brother of Khoudeda on my paternal side (since Toma had married three different women), thought us during a family meal that they had another brother whom we never knew nor intended to speak of. The young people of the family were surprised of this astonishing news!

I am thus looking for my roots. I am looking for the children of my great-uncle Isho, son of Varde (which was the mother of my grandfather Khoudeda but also of my great-uncle Isho). Varde was Belwayta (from the village of Bellon). Varde would be the paternal aunt of Mar Raphaël 1st Bidawid, former Chaldean patriarch of Babylon, which was also from the village of Bellon.

Two sons of Isho would have visited Father Aziz Yalap in 1992 in Istanbul, Turkey. They were accompanied, according to Father Aziz, by a young woman who was the daughter of the one among them. They were on holiday in Istanbul and had benefited from these holidays to visit Father Aziz who was their cousin and who was at the hospital following a serious illness. These cousins of Father Aziz appeared in Istanbul and they left this city without giving news never again. We do not know if they returned to Iraq or if they left elsewhere.

I write all this in Zinda Magazine because I am convinced that Zinda for Assyro-Chaldeans is more invaluable in a human being: eyes, ears and mouth! I am persuaded that Zinda will be a reliable means to find us among ourselves like I knew to form this virtual nation!

I am looking for all details which could be useful for me in the search for my roots. I would be very happy to be able to contact people from Bellon. Here is my e-mail: antoni_yalap@hotmail.com.

Last year a similar letter was posted on the Russian edition of Zinda Magazine.  A few months later two families, separated for nearly four decades, found each other on the opposite poles of the planet - one in California and the other miles away from Moscow.  They plan to meet in the near future in Russia.  Perhaps the resources at Zinda Magazine can be used to bring our lost relatives and friends closer - as we move farther away from our origins and one another.  Are we onto a brilliant idea here?

I Had to Laugh

James Y. Rayis, P.C.

I had to laugh when I read about Christian televangelist Pat Robertson’s new “fatwa” against Venezuelan President Chavez. Those representing groups suffering under conditions of militant fundamentalist and radical Islamic groups just had to laugh.

My image was one of Robertson not as he is, an already ridiculous little-boy-mind in man’s clothing rambling over the sweetly-sincere tele-hypnotized evangelized flat screen, but rather now in black robes and an over-sized turban coming to us from outside a cave in taped video from Al Jazeera network.

How wonderful for this great American nation to hoist highest the banner of freedom and democracy for all with this annoying business/religious figure of our own to now show us the better way. I merely must have missed the part of winning a free trip to my very own Valhalla with a buttered-up pile of young ladies waiting for me there if I commit the deed? I apologize to those who follow Mr. Robertson sincerely but I really have to laugh.

I also know how this will be played in the Mosques from Los Angeles to Hamburg to Fallujah to Mecca. I know that violent radicals worldwide will take this news not as the ramblings of an off-balanced but wildly wealthy preacher, but as firm American policy. I’m certain this will be pointed to as evidence of Western hypocrisy, decadence and immorality; in fact, although such a fatwa is commonly issued by such radical mullahs, these same people will point to Robertson’s act – which would be more amusing if not so disgusting - as evidence of American corruption and barbarism.

There is one overriding truth in this: zealotry and extremism in any form, religious or ideological, is antithetical to good government and the public weal. America’s own history of dealings with native and African Americans, just as Britain’s with the Queen’s colonial subjects and Australia’s and on and on, evidences that a valid democracy exists only in conditions of toleration and equal freedoms for all people. President Chavez is a misguided and possibly deranged person, but human nonetheless. My reading of Christianity does not allow for such an act to be committed for any reason. Islam itself would not call for an assassination of a leader because of political acts unrelated to or unaffecting religious practice.

Well, at least I had a laugh.

In an interview with CNN last October, Robertson said God had told him the war in Iraq would be messy and a disaster. When he met with Bush in Nashville before the war Bush did not listen to his advice, Robertson said, and believed Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant who needed to be removed.  Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. ("CBN") uses mass media, especially television and visual media, to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the everlasting kingdom of God on earth.  According to MinistryWatch, CBN, 700 Club, and Mr. Pat Robertson's other media ministries received nearly 380 million dollars in donations from listeners and viewers from around the world in 2004.

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Community Events


Mandaic Language Receives UNESCO Recognition

Dr. Qais Saidi
Previous General Secretary for Mandaean Spiritual Council Iraq
Chief of the Mandaean organization in Germany

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Mandaic language will be listed in 'UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing' which would be online by 2006, in addition to publishing a special brochure.

It was my honor to write to H. H. Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, Consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar and the special envoy of UNESCO, about this very old Semitic language. H. H. Mozah, as a very intellectual and helpful person, responded to our request and took this subject upon her consideration.

This encouraged some academic Mandaean people to go further establishing the Mandaic Language Council which will be internationally registered to have the responsibility for the Mandaic Language and the Mandaean cultural heritage.

In appreciation to your concern on the Mandaean issue and because you are capable and willing to support and participate in reviving the Mandaean language as part of the mankind heritage, we hereby invite you to join us in this foundation. As you are well aware Mandaic language is on the verge of extinction, we feel that such establishment is vital in maintaining of the Mandaean language and save it from being lost forever. We attach herewith the aims and activities of the Council.

We look forward to hear from you as soon as possible.


1. Spreading of the Mandaean Language among the Mandaeans willing to learn the language and to communicate with it.

2. Encourage research, writing and translation in the field of the Mandaean language and the Mandaean heritage.

3. Establish relations with similar linguistic institutions and academic circles to exchange expertise and knowledge.

4. Create scopes of introduction, Support and preserve from the academic circles in concern.

5. Encourage and provide academic studies opportunities in the field of Mandaean language, and train teachers to carry out the task of teaching this language.


1. Provide support and assistance to authors and translators, and facilitate delivering their works to the individuals and bodies who benefit from above mentioned works.

2. To design programs and software contribute to the teaching the Mandaean language, supported by visual and audio aids.

3. To adopt the Mandaean font in the computer software, and proved it to scholars and students

4. Publication of periodicals in Arabic, English, German and Mandaic - deal with the Mandaean language and culture.

5. Arrange for exhibitions for the Mandaean products.

6. To hold annual conference, or once every two or three years, designated to the Mandaean issue.

7. Create a Website in the Internet for the proposed Council.

Mandaic is a Northwest Semitic language of the Eastern Aramaic sub-family, and is closely related to Syriac, another member of the Eastern Aramaic sub-family.  The modern version of the Classical Mandaic, or Neo-Mandaic is a member of the Neo-Aramaic dialects developed in isolation from one another.  To an Assyrian in northwest Iran or Syria, Mandaic would be nearly unintelligible. Neo-Mandaic has preserved the old Semitic "suffix" conjugation, yet it has lost the "guttural" consonants.  Modern speakers of Mandaic use several Persian or Farsi words.  The Mandaic alphabet has 24 letters.  Modern Syriac (Assyrian) has 22.  The last 2 letters were added later.  Mandeans believe in the magical properties of numbers and number 24 has an important place in the numerology of the Mandean religion, similar in importance to numbers 7 or 666 in the Judeo-Christian faith.

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Editor's Pick

A Sect Facing an Identity Crisis

Dr George Habash
United Kingdom

In 539 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king had a dream that gripped his heart with fear (Book of Daniel). Daniel an exiled Judean and man of God interpreted the king’s dream and told him that his kingdom of “iron and clay” will be swept away; that year had terminated forever the Babylonian kingdom at the hands of Cyrus king of Persia.

Billy Graham, the greatest evangelist in our time once said in his sermon that the fall of those great empires like the Babylonians and the Romans was for moral decline and decay.

In 1975 AD i.e. after more than 25 centuries from the fall of the kingdom, I had witnessed myself the existence of Babylon, not as a mighty capital, but a heart- wrenching ruins. This was prior to the refurbishment undertaken by the past regime in the 1980s, in the intention to link the historic Babylonian kingdom to the kingdom that ruled in the 1980s.

The other thing I had witnessed was that the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s mighty kingdom have become a hub in a sea of Shiite Islam.

With the new world order, emancipation of small nations for freedom, the move from bipolar to single polar world, the count down to the fall of Baghdad, and the rise of Assyrian nationalism, there appeared in the horizon and out of the blue the cries of neo-Nebuchadnezzarism- the yearn to re-establish the fallen kingdom. This cry was formulated and facilitated by dwarf bishops, former old guards of Yousif Salman Yousif and tonsured Kurdistanis.

The kick off was started a few years ago when two dwarf bishops honked their horns declaring that we are three peoples not one, contrary to our belief that we are three churches belonging to one nation-Assyrian.

Following that a massive outcry was submitted to the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church at the time late Rafael Biddawid objecting their remarks.

The late Patriarch was succeeded by an ineffective leader to the throne of the Chaldean church and the leadership was tested by the recent schismatic letter addressed from Chaldean throne to the government of the “Green Zone” in Baghdad. Egged on by dwarf bishops, former followers of Yousif Salman Yousif and Kurdistani loyalists, the Patriarch appealed to the Baghdadi establishment to name Chaldeanism as the third nationality.

The appeal was rebuffed as the draft of the constitution have shown but succeeded in dividing our people into three branches, two along the church line and the third along the national line-Assyrian.
Recently a group of Chaldeans by church wrote to the Chaldean throne protesting the Patriarch’s letter and urging him to rescind it and appealed to fellow Chaldeans to seek unity with the Syriac and Madinhaye in one nation approach. They decried the poisonous scheme orchestrated by a known few.

The separatists got wild and started a tit for tat show with attacks and counter attacks from pro and anti unity groups. This is really an identity crisis that could turn into a civil war in the church and that may result eventually in split in the denomination.

The majority of our people stand for unity and there is a large proportion of Chaldeans by church who are Assyrian. Madinhaye and Syriac are all Assyrian.

Currently our people have become firm in their demand for an Assyrian province followed by autonomy but how will this materialise when the dwarfs go for separation? For example the south of Nineveh is dominated by the Syriac church and how does this fit with agenda of the dwarfs? Where does this neo-Nebucchadnezzarism fit in the heart of Ashur. I will applaud these dwarf bishops and neo-Nebuchadnezzarists if they dare to establish the Babylonian kingdom in Hilla province which is in reality a sea of Shiite Islam, but not in the heart of Ashur.

The ineffective Chaldean leadership is wreaking havoc in the church because the authority is loose so are the bishops. Two bishops in the homeland showed their willingness to join the Kurdish enclave while a Baghdadi bishop spoke of unity but demanded first listing the Chaldean name among the three; the bishop of Mosul joined other Christian bishops in the town supporting the unity stand. The two US bishops are still aloof with Chaldean apartheid.

The leadership from the start ought to have established a team of scholars within the church to study its origin and its national identity and still has the time to do so but failing that it could result in split in the church with majority opting for unity of our people.

All this mess is still avoidable if the leadership of the church offered to resign or retire from its ecclesiastical duties in order to preserve church’s unity and continuity.

In a crucial time like this where every ethnic and religious group is seeking to grab what it can, the dwarfs are tearing us apart.

Jesus our Maran said “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13) and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5) but the dwarf bishops bypass the first verse and stick to the second one.

New Iraq Constitution May Throw Women's
Rights into Stone Age

Jerry McGlothlin
Courtesy of the WorldNetDaily.com
26 August 2005

On Aug. 23, President Bush said, "The fact that Iraq will have a democratic constitution that honors women's rights, the rights of minorities, is, is going to be an important change in the, in the broader Middle East." (New York Times)

Reality Check: Although the president may be well intentioned in his "wishful thinking" statement, it appears obvious he has never read the Quran or the key tenants of Islamic "Sharia" law. If he did, he would know that Sharia law (the proposed backbone of the new Iraqi constitution that nullifies all laws that contradict the beliefs of Islam) is the antithesis of a handbook on women's rights.

The best laid plans of nice men are may quickly go awry as pressure mounts for Iraq to adopt a final constitution aimed at resolving thousands of years of disputes with a two-headed hydra: a "democratic" constitution embedded with Sharia law. Frankly, in the opinion of this writer, this animal ain't gonna fly.

Why? Because it will likely lead to Muslim clerics sitting as Supreme Court justices, striking down any law that conflicts with Islamic (Sharia) law. And why not? The new Iraq constitution essentially states that now law can be passed that conflicts with Sharia law.

Sadly, this ancient nation appears to have traded one secular dictator for a whole set of even worse oppressors – hundreds, if not thousands of Islamic mullahs who may soon be empowered to overrule virtually any democratic freedom, thwart any democratic law, supplanting them with harsh Sharia law – laws that, frankly, throw human rights for women back into the Stone Age.

If this happens, President Bush's naive statement may go down in history along side Neville Chamberlain's infamous assurances that Hitler was a man of peace.

If Sharia law becomes the governing doctrine of Iraq, a fair question might be: "When did you stop beating your wives?" The answer: "I never stopped. Sharia law forbids me to stop beating them."


I think not.

Granted, not all Muslim men beat their wives even if Muslim Sharia law gives them the "right" to do so, but why should even one Iraqi woman be subjected to such abuse?

The American people deserve to see the free Iraq that their soldiers died for. These precious men and women of valor did not give their lives simply to create The Islamic Republic of Iraq. And now that Iraqi men and women have had a taste of freedom, it would be cruel and unusual punishment to throw them back under the bondage of the harsh Sharia law that currently enslaves the people of Iran and Sudan. We cannot – we must not-- allow this to happen to the people of Iraq.

Today, there are just over 1 million non-Arab, non-Muslim, indigenous people of Iraq, many of whom have lived in the land now longer than both the Arabs and Kurds. Some of these non-Muslim people groups have been on the receiving end of genocide campaigns for centuries. In these historic bloodbaths, Muslims have killed down the oldest inhibitors of Iraq (formerly Mesopotamia/Asia Minor/Assyria/Babylon) from many millions to just over 1 million. And, sadly, if Sharia law becomes constitutionally protected in Iraq, it could soon be "open season" on Iraq's non-Muslims. Why? Simply because Islamic law not only encourages, but commands Muslims to convert or kill non-Muslims.

Over the years, life has been particularly tough for women in the Kurdish regions of Iraq. Even when non-Muslim women were shown "mercy" by not being killed, they faced what some might call "a fate worse than death": female circumcision. Although not widely reported in Western media, there is already extreme social pressure put on Iraqi women to comply with Kurdish Sharia law that requires female circumcision to "protect her" from being considered "ritually unclean" by the mullahs.


Again, I think not. But if Sharia law is enshrined in the current proposed constitution for Iraq, thousands, perhaps millions, of women could quickly become maimed for life.

Who are these forgotten minorities?

Iraq's forgotten minorities including the Assyrians from the ancient Assyrian Empire ("The men of Nineveh" referred to by Jesus Christ himself in the Bible and the one remaining people groups on Earth who can watch "The Passion" by Mel Gibson without subtitles since their native tongue is ancient Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.)

Other non-Muslim and non-Arab Iraqi minorities include Mandeans and Yezidis, plus there are the often-forgotten minority Muslim groups such as the Turkoman and Shabak who are oppressed by Barzani Kurds. Although hardly mentioned in the major media, these ancient people have been fleeing Iraq in unprecedented numbers under persecution by Islamic militants and severe discrimination by the Kurdish Muslims, among whom many of these minorities live in northern Iraq.

Chaldo-Assyrians and human-rights activists charge that the Kurds are diverting the share of the non-Kurdish minorities' aid to areas inhabited by Kurds. As a result, Christian villages, largely, have not benefited from U.S. reconstruction funds and remain uninhabitable, lacking basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, schools, roads and health clinics.

Under the current proposed constitution is the potential for the ancient Assyrian Nineveh Province to be "gobbled up" by Kurds. This very real concern has already caused between 60,000 and 80,000 Chaldo-Assyrian Christians – up to 10 percent of their total population – to have left Iraq over the past year. And how much worse would it be for these oppressed non-Muslim minorities if overnight the law of the land would become Islamic law? Such law permits and even encourages the mass murder of non-Muslims.

Sound impossible? Two million "conscientious objectors" to Sharia law died brutal deaths in the Islamic Republic of Sudan. How difficult would it be to annihilate the remaining one million non-Muslims of Iraq if outrageous Sharia law gains constitutional protection and enforcement? And what might the gravestone read on such a mass grave?

Perhaps, "RIP: 1 million men who refused to beat their Iraqi wives."

Jerry McGlothlin is an Assyrian-American.

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Assyrians at Their Best


Boonie Ba-Boona

Cover art by Adam Odisho, Sweden

Shlimon Bet-Shmuel has once again successfully incorporated his devotion towards Assyrian art and culture. This album includes ancient Middle Eastern instruments such as the Jouza, Nay, and ‘ud.

Bet-Shmuel creates a powerful scenario with the images of a country and a baby. The country asks the baby to be his friend and to grow up to be equal with others. The child responds by asking for a lullaby. The country nurtures and pampers the child by singing lullabies and promises to protect him until manhood, when in turn, the man will protect his country. The country is encompassed by four Assyrian regions; the Hakkari mountains, the Urmia plains, Tur Abdin and the plains of Nineveh; each region depicting its own folklore and social mores. The country gives the child civilization and quenches his thirst from the Garden of Eden. The child enjoys the rolling meadows as he plays the bagpipe with a melody of hope that celebrates the simple life; milking goats, pressing grapes, weaving wool, harvesting grain and baking bread

Boonie Ba-Boona offers the listener a pulsating mixture of orchestral sounds that cover eastern and western instruments. Accompanied by a variety of musicians, Bet-Shmuel offers melodies of hope and love, while enchanting the listener with a mixture of poetry and Assyrian folk.

The enhanced portion of this CD production provides an interactive way for the listener to become apart of the recording process that went into Boonie Ba-Boona.

CD features:

• 6 digitally produced tracks.
• Acoustic instruments & complete orchestration
• 10 panel full color folder that includes lyrics to all 6 songs written in Syriac.

Enhanced CD includes project description, recording session photos, and special video interviews from various musicians (10 minutes +).

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

Fred Aprim California
Noruz Atto Germany
Dr. Matay Arsan Holland
Ramin Daniels California
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Nahrain Kamber California
Lena Mushell California
Fred Rustam Arizona
Sayros Yadgar California

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