|Daniel, Ninos, Mahir, & Johnny||Wilfred Bet-Alkhas|
|The Yezidi Kurds and Assyrians of Georgia||Iraklii & Giga Chikhladze|
|Assyrian Guards Killed and Wounded in Attack in Baghdad
Iraq's Chaldean Bishops Seek Change to Draft Constitution
Iraq Chaos Threatens Mandean Faith
|Jaafari Visits Michigan, Addresses Chaldean Concerns
Los Angeles Gets to Know John Kanno
Emir of Sharja Presented 13th Cent. Assyrian Scientific Book
|Our Nation Loses Four of Its Bravest Sons
Is It Not An Appropriate Time For Our Unity
Assyrian Diqlat School
|Assyrian Human Rights Documentation Project
"Second Homeland" Showing in San Jose
"Cousins" Release Date Set for 23 October 2005
The Crimson Field Now Available for Sale
Assyrian Religious Cultural Television
|The Role of Religion in Promoting World Peace||Yonatan Bet-Kolia|
|Assyrian Poetry, An International Mission||Bellos and Susan Nisan|
Daniel, Ninos, Mahir, & Johnny
Speechless and confused I stand before the photos of the funeral ceremony of the four Assyrian bravehearts whose lives ended in an attack organized by the forces of evil on Thursday in Baghdad. I know nothing about these four men other than their ages and places of birth.
Where did they go to school? When did they choose to become Assyrian fighters, choosing the sacred life of a soldier? I wish I knew about their personal lives too. About the mundane things that matter to those of us away from the homeland, trapped in the futile discussions we carry in our empty churches and social clubs in the west. About their favorite football teams, their favorite places to hang out on Fridays, maybe even the first time they fell in love. What were their plans for future?
All I know now is their names: Daniel, Ninos, Mahir, and Johnny.
Those names have haunted me for the last two nights. I hear them over and over again: Daniel, Ninos, Mahir, and Johnny – Daniel, Ninos, Mahir, and Johnny. Is it only me who feels a strange kinship toward these men? The faces of the brothers, Ninos and Daniel, I feel I have seen before. Johnny strikes me like a distant relation I never got to know and Mahir…whose eyes follow me everywhere, they judge my actions, my thoughts of life away from Assyria.
Daniel, to you “Assyria” meant something more than a word. It’s how you felt about things, the way you pondered in your head when you saw a funny situation or danced in the public. Did you dance in the public? Maybe even how you joked with your friends and kissed someone very special.
Ninos, the older brother, felt special every time he heard the word “Assyrian”. He felt good about himself. It meant something special to be Assyrian, incredibly special. For Ninos it morally rhymed with higher civility, the greater goodness of the humanity and the love of God and country – the country he loved the most – Iraq.
Mahir, w hen was the last time you waved an Assyrian flag at a public rally or in a parade? Most likely you were protecting those marching in the parade or somebody important walking ahead of the marching crowd. Someone like Pascale! Did you think, my friend, that today thousands would be waving the colorful flag of your nation at your funeral. Perhaps you did. This was the moment you and all your brethren expected in your long struggle. Yesterday, it was Pascale who walked behind you, motionless in that wooden coffin - forever guarding my identity, my heritage, my past and our future.
Ah, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. You acted tough, but deep inside you were a softy. Weren’t you? Every time you heard the name “Assyrian” said on Ashur TV or read it in a newspaper article you felt the butterflies in your stomach. But you kept quiet. No if's and but's, just service for the sake of your nation and your people.
Had I been present in your funeral procession and grieved your loss, perhaps I would be more restful tonight, but I wasn’t. What can I do from here, thousand of miles away from the battleground, sitting among the liars behind the cameras paid by your enemies, the misguided leaders more dead than yourself, and the silent holy men whose lips will never utter a prayer for your precious lives.
Daniel, Ninos, Mahir, and Johnny! Daniel, Ninos, Mahir, and Johnny!
Nothing is permanent, everything changes as the gentle flow of the water of the sacred Euphrates. Dictators, extremists, comic disc jockeys and their cronies, the false prophets and the occupying foreign forces will always march in and march out of our television screens and our homeland. Yet one thing will always remain the same for my people – the prayers of a Martyr’s mother.
I had so much to write about what I saw in Boston, what I heard last Tuesday on the Assyrian satellite comedy channel, and what I think should happen in the next few months. But tonight nothing matters. Nothing but the four most beautiful words that will haunt me for a long time.
The Yezidi Kurds and Assyrians of Georgia: The Problem of Diasporas and Integration into Contemporary Society
We have deliberately selected the Assyrians and the Yezidi Kurds from among numerous
Today their diasporas may gain more weight in the context of possible geopolitical changes that are expected soon.
Survey of History
Assyrians in Georgia were first mentioned in the 6th century A.D. It was at that time that 13 Assyrian monks from the city of Urhai (Edessa, Mesopotamia) came to Georgia. History knows them as 13 saint Assyrian fathers. Later scholars likened their contribution to the enlightenment of the newly Christianized Georgia to what Saint Nino had done to convert the pagans. The monasteries and churches they founded are still standing.
The Yezidi Kurds probably came to Georgia during the reign of czar Georgy III (second half of the 12th century) when one of the Kurdish tribes had to leave Mesopotamia and settle in Armenia.
Later some of them started serving the Georgian czar. It is known for a fact that two Yezidi Kurds, brothers Ivo and Zaa adopted Christianity and new names: Ioane and Zakharia Mkhargrdzeli. Later they earned great fame as military leaders and personal bodyguards of Queen Tamar (late 12th-early 13th century).
When the Byzantine Empire had fallen Turkey tried several times to spread its influence to its neighbors.
For 300 years, starting with the late 15th century Persia and the Ottoman Empire were waging wars for the domination over the Caucasus and the Middle East. The Assyrians and Yezidi Kurds who by that time had lost their statehoods were the first to be caught in the hostilities. Georgia also had to fight for its independence against Turkey and defended it.
Georgia remained a free and non-Muslim state that attracted its neighbors living under Turks. According to historical documents in the 1760s Assyrians and Kurds asked the Georgian czar Irakly II for help—he had already been engaged in a secret correspondence with the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East Mar Avraam and wanted closer ties with the Assyrians and Yezidi Kurds. The right moment came on 25 September, 1768 when the Ottoman Empire declared a war on Russia.
After long negotiations Russia convinced Irakly II to enter a war against Turkey. It was on his instruction that Opisanie sosednikh s Gruziey stran i narodov (Description of Lands and Peoples Adjacent to Georgia) was drawn for Count Nikita Panin who received it from Georgian envoy Artemii Andronikashvili.
The document gave much space to Kurds and Assyrians who, Irakly expected, could play a certain role in the war. It said, in particular: “The Assyrians who are living between Persia and the Ottoman Turks and who are numerous and own mountains and valleys are all Christians; there are several millions of them and they have military experience. It is for a year now that they have been sending clerics, priests and bishops, and princes with requests to be allowed to move to our country.” The document says less about the Kurds yet Irakly specially pointed to their military skills.
In April 1770, according to his understanding with Russia, Irakly II sent his troops toward Akhaltsikhe.
Simultaneously Assyrian Bishop Isaiah left Tbilisi. He was carrying letters to Assyrian Catholicos Simon and Kurdish leader Choban-aga in which the Georgian czar invited them to fight together against their common enemy, Turkey, and promised his all-round support. These plans failed because Russian General Totleben, Irakly’s ally, changed his mind and turned his detachment back to Kartli that amounted to a betrayal.
In September 1770, the Georgian czar got replies to his letters. Assyrian Catholicos Simon wrote in a letter dated July 1770: “We all thank Jesus Christ for your benevolence to us… An army of 20 thousand will be at your disposal… Please, send us a grant charter that would encourage us and allow us not to be afraid of the Ottoman Turks. Approach us so that we can see each other better. After that we shall be prepared to die for your happiness… We all hope to see the time when we can serve you with dignity.” Assyrian Bishop Isaiah wrote: “I went to Islamic Kurdistan to meet the Yezidi leaders and show them your letter.
They were very happy, placed the letter on their heads and became your humble servants. They are praying for your victory and ask you to give them the fortress of Khoshaba. Give them the fortress so that they can gather together there; they do not need cattle. They ask you for this favor—this is what I can tell you.
They are all good warriors and recognize Choban-aga as their leader.”
Choban-aga himself confirmed this in a letter to the czar, in which he said: “We the Mahmud Yezidis ask you for a grant charter so that we can come to you safely, so that we become assured of our safety.
God knows that when we come and bow to you, you will see that we know how to serve.”
Had the Akhaltsikhe operation been successful and had the Georgian czar approached the lands of the Kurds and Assyrians their unification could well have changed the geopolitical situation in the region. There is no doubt that both the Kurds and Assyrians were prepared to move against Turkey if supported by Irakly II. It was General Totleben’s betrayal that forced the Georgian czar to change his plans.
The Georgian czar not only wanted to side with the Kurds and Assyrians in his struggle against Turkey but also wanted to move them from the Middle East to Georgia. There is information that about four thousand Kurdish families did arrive and settled in Kakheti (eastern Georgia).
It was at the same time that the first Assyrian community of several dozen families appeared in Georgia. They arrived in Mukhrani (Mtskheta District) from Iran and Ottoman Empire.
When Russia signed a Turkmanchai Peace Treaty with Iran in 1828 Iranian Assyrians and Kurds got an opportunity to come to Georgia as hired hands. In the latter half of the 19th century they started arriving in great numbers. Another great wave of Yezidi immigrants occurred even later, in 1915-1917.
They fled Turkey to save their lives. There is information that not only Turks but also Muslim Kurds were also against the Yezidi Kurds. Yezidi historians believe that in one day 56 thou of their compatriots died at the hands of Muslim Kurds at the River Arax.
About 50 thou Assyrians came to Georgia and Armenia to avoid a similar sad fate in Turkey.
Yezidi Kurds in Georgia in the 20th Century: From Their Renaissance Back to Decline?
Yezidi Kurds and Assyrians arrived in Georgia in great numbers in 1915-1917. According to what they say themselves the 1960s-1980s were the best time for Yezidi Kurds: they received their own drama theater (the only in the world) and a folk dance group; days of Kurdish culture became a regular feature while the radio ran weekly broadcasts in the Kurdish language. “It was at that time that Kurdish intelligentsia appeared:” there were professors and academics, artists and actors, sportsmen and party functionaries among them.
When Georgia became independent the number of Kurds in it began to reduce: there were about 35 thou of them according to the population census of 1989; today, according to various Kurdish organizations (their figures are very close) there are not more than six thou. The share of emigrating Kurds is the highest compared to all other diasporas.
Early in the 1990s the theater and the dance group were closed down while the radio stopped its broadcasts in Kurdish. The diaspora has the following to say about the situation: “We are simply forced to migrate. The majority left not during the nationalist hysterics of the early 1990s but during Shevardnadze’s time. By the way, Gamzakhurdia said many times that he was proud of the fact that the only Kurdish drama theater in the world worked in his republic. Under Shevardnadze who preaches democracy and equality the theater was closed down.”
Before that the majority of the Kurds were urban dwellers and lived in the capital and other large cities yet in Kakheti there were several predominantly Kurdish villages. Today, they stand empty or received new migrants. Those who used to live there either left the country or moved to Tbilisi. It is interesting to note that in the capital Kurds form compact communities mainly in the outskirts where the flats are much cheaper than in the center. The majority is engaged in hard manual labor.
The Kurdish language is taught in four schools in Tbilisi that lack curricular, textbooks and teaching aids. The children are taught mainly the spoken tongue.
Today, like in Soviet times, the Kurdish population of Georgia is mainly Yezidic. In 1937-1946 nearly all Muslim Kurds were deported from Samtskhe-Javakheti together with Meskhetian Turks; the same fate befell the Muslim Kurds from Batumi and Adzharia in general.
Today, the Yezidi Kurds believe that lack of a temple is one of their main problems. They are the followers of Yezidism, one of the earliest religions in the world yet they have never had a temple in Georgia. In 2002, there were plans to build one yet the leaders of the community could not pay for the land on which the temple was expected to stand the price that was asked. Today, there is no talk about this project.
The Organizations of Yezidi Kurds
In 1988, the Yezidi Kurds formed an organization called Runai that existed from 1988 to 1998. Later they set up a Society of the Kurdish Citizens of Georgia that became a Union of the Yezidis of Georgia in 1998. By early 2002 the country had several Kurdish (Yezidic) structures. According to Chairman of the Union of the Yezidis of Georgia Rostom Atashov, the majority did nothing to protect the interests of the Yezidis.4 He has said: “They are much more concerned with their personal interests. Certain politicians profit from the continued existence of these organizations because they can use them at opportune moments.” The majority of the Kurdish diaspora is convinced that today only the Union of the Yezidis and the International Foundation for Protecting the Rights and the Religious-Cultural Heritage of the Kurds (registered in May 2001) are the only efficient structures.
In 2003, the Union of the Yezidis with the support of the New Right Party started publishing a Russian-language newspaper. The first Kurdish newspaper Glavezh (The Morning Star) is published irregularly.
Ethnic Self-Awareness: Activization under Pressure
The largest number of Kurds and Yezidis are living in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Germany.
On the former Soviet territory they are concentrated in Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
They are mainly Muslims, the smaller part of them follow Yezidism. All clashes that happened between them in the past were triggered by religious contradictions. In the Soviet Union there were no clashes because all religious and ethnic issues were carefully avoided. This was a time of partial assimilation that was cut short in the early 1990s when leaders of the first wave of national-liberation struggle headed by Gamsakhurdia came to power in Georgia. Ethnic tension and ethnic conflicts became common. In response the diasporas were forming their ethnic self-awareness at a fast pace. The Yezidi Kurds were no exception.
Under Shevardnadze they started defending their rights—today this has become especially clear. In the religious sphere the situation is less clear: though being aware of their ethnic affiliation the Yezidis celebrate Christian Orthodox and Catholic Christmas together with the rest of the country, as well as Georgian national holidays. This is an eloquent fact: first, for many centuries the diaspora could not practice its religion in Yezidi temples; second, all local national minorities appreciated Georgian tolerance, evident at all periods except the last decade.
The community is not represented in the higher echelons of power yet Levan Gvindzhilia, Chairman of the Georgian State Linguistic Chamber, says: “The Kurds are an inalienable part of Georgian culture. I should say that many of their complaints and demands are not justified. In a democratic state the authorities look after all population strata not only the ethnic diasporas. Democracy cannot accept such division. Under the Georgian Constitution each person has the right to profess any religion; all ethnic groups are equal in Georgia. All people are living in equally difficult economic conditions. The
Complete Integration of the Kurds (Yezidis) into Society—Is It Still Far Away?
It turned out that Georgian society is not ready to adequately respond to the desire of the Yezidi Kurds to become its component part. Those of the members who tried to consolidate the diaspora’s position in Georgian society found themselves in a conflict with it. Here is a confirmation. At a conference held in October 2002 the Kurds voiced their disapproval of the authorities. Several newspapers and journals published in Tbilisi responded with highly subjective publications that accused those who spoke at the conference of anti-Georgian feelings, separatism and extremism with no reason at all. Some of them even carried articles entitled: “Georgian Ocalans,” “Is There a Threat of Kurdish Separatism?”  “Shevardnadze Is Fanning a Conflict Between the Kurds and the Georgians,” “Kurds Are Threatening Georgians,”  etc. The press treated negatively the fact that the Kurds asked the authorities to pay attention to their needs. Such response (even if of a small part of the media) testifies that today people as a whole are not prepared to look at the diaspora as part of Georgian society.
The Kurdish and Yezidi communities interpreted these publications as an attempt of certain political forces to provoke ethnic tension and to divide the diaspora. Some people even said that it was an attempt to use the Kurdish issue against the president of Georgia: “Kurds are a good target for such provocations because they are defenseless. Our diaspora is poorly organized, politically indifferent and mainly poorly educated. Similar attempts aimed at other diasporas are fraught with complications: there is Russia
It seems that these publications were prompted by the fact that Georgian society is still not ready to accept the Yezidi Kurds as its part. This however does not justify the publications that infringe on the democratic rights and freedoms not only of the Kurds and Yezidis but also all Georgian citizens irrespective of their ethnic origins.
The Assyrian Community
Few people know that there is a small namesake of one of the most powerful states of the ancient world, Assyria, in Georgia. I mean the village of Asurety some fifty kilometers away from Tbilisi. I do not know how it happened but I do know that the relations between Georgia and Assyrians started several centuries ago.
According to the 1989 population census, there were 8,600 Assyrians in the republic, that is, they were fewer than the Kurds. The Assyrian National Congress insists that there were much more of them, up to 12 thousand. Half of them left Georgia in the 1990s; today there are approximately six thousand. Like the Kurds they prefer to live in compact groups; their villages are scattered across the republic.
The largest and the oldest of them is Dzveli Kanda (Mtskheta District) with 350 families (about 1,500 people), 80 percent of them are Assyrians. In the village of Gardabani there are 110 families (600 to 700 people). It is commonly believed there are 2,000-2,500 Assyrians living in Tbilisi where one of the compact settlements is found in the Kukia locality (about 800 people). There are Assyrians in Kutaisi, Batumi, Senaki, Zugdidi, and Zestafoni.
More About History
I have already written that Assyrians started arriving in Georgia in the latter half of the 19th century; they mainly settled in Tiflis and became Russian citizens. By the end of the 19th century there were over five thousands of them living in Georgia.
It was at that time that the Tiflis Assyrians received an Assyrian church, a school, and a newspaper Modynkha (The East) in their tongue. In 1912, Assyrians acquired a drama circle, the first in their history.
There was a theater troupe headed by public figure Freidun Aturaya that acted in the Zubalov People’s Theater (now the Mardzhanishvili Theater). During World War I the local Assyrian community organized a Committee in Tiflis aided by the government that helped Assyrian refugees. At that time the Assyrians fled Turkey in great numbers; the Assyrian National Council in exile also functioned in the Georgian capital while Dr. Freidun Aturaya set up an Assyrian Socialist Party of the Transcaucasus, the first step toward political organizations of the Assyrians of later times.
Under Bolsheviks the community published a newspaper Kokhva d Modynkha (The Star of the East), ran all sorts of circles and three newly opened Assyrian schools in Tiflis. The community flourished until 1937 when the greater part of intellectuals and the clergy was repressed, the schools and newspaper closed down. There were attempts to transfer the Assyrian written language to Latin script. Ten years later a wave of repressions returned: Assyrians were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan in huge numbers—many of them came back only after the rehabilitation of 1954.
In 1956, an Assyrian public figure Angelina Grigoria created an Assyrian folk dance and song ensemble, the first in the Soviet Union, and a Club of Lovers of Assyrian Literature. In 1989, a Center of Assyrian Culture was set up that in 1992 became the Assyrian National Congress of Georgia with a youth department, two groups of folk dance, and a newspaper Aviuta (Harmony). In 1996, a mission of the Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church appeared in Tbilisi.
The Assyrian Community Today
As distinct from other ethnic communities of Georgia the Assyrian community lost few of its members during the years of independence. What is more, even those who left home to make money in other countries did not sell their houses and preserved their Georgian citizenship. Many of them do come back.
According to the Assyrian National Congress of Georgia, the larger part of those who had gone to make money in the Krasnodar Territory and Moscow returned because of the wave of chauvinistic sentiments in Russia (especially in the south and in Moscow). Some of those who had emigrated to Germany also returned.
From the very beginning the migrants were mostly the Russian-speaking members (who know next to nothing of Georgian) of the community because they had found it hard to integrate into Georgian society in which the Russian language no longer plays the role it used to play. Such people cannot find jobs and have to live in a certain limited linguistic space. The Assyrians of Gardabani (Kvemo Kartli) have found themselves in the most difficult situation. They are divided according to their confessions: there are Catholics and Orthodox Christians among them; until recently there were no mixed marriages between the two religious communities.
The Gardabani District is mainly populated by ethnic Azeris who speak poor Georgian. This has placed the local Assyrians into a reservation of sorts. On the one hand, they cannot assimilate and continue living as a community; on the other, they are excluded from society by the integration processes going on everywhere in the country.
Those who live in another Assyrian village, Dzveli Kanda, are in a different situation—the local Assyrians have a good command of Georgian (which they use in everyday life); many have Georgian relatives. The same applies to the Assyrians of western Georgia. They integrate easily and less frequently leave their homeland.
Teaching the Assyrian language is another problem: it is taught in the village of Dzveli Kanda and in Tbilisi where there are special language courses at the Assyrian-Chaldean Catholic Church headed by priest Benyamin Bit-Yadgar. Like the Kurdish community, the Assyrian village school and the courses in the capital lack books and textbooks in the Assyrian. The local Assyrian community maintains close contacts with the Assyrian autonomy in the north of Iraq (the historical homeland of all Assyrians) that periodically sends them textbooks, the number of which are not nearly enough.
In August 2002, the sport teams of the Assyrians of Georgia took part in the Pan-Assyrian Games (the so-called Tammuz Games) in the city of Urmia (Iran) that in the 18th century was one of the largest Assyrian cultural centers. The Georgian Assyrian team came third—the fact that says that the community has a future.
There is an opinion that the relations between the state and ethnic minorities can be regulated through laws. The ethnic communities agree with this. “We are convinced that a law on ethnic minorities is necessary and that it can be used to regulate the relationships between the state and the communities. Today we cannot do this. This is especially important for the minorities that have no statehoods anywhere in the world. I have in mind not only Assyrians but also the Kurds and the Yezidis.” Members of the Kurdish diaspora believe that its continued existence is threatened. Georgy Shamoev has said: “The Kurdish diaspora in Georgia is a political, economic, and social outsider. If we fail to overcome this inferiority complex the Georgian Kurds as a community will be doomed to extinction.”
The above suggests at least two conclusions.
First, the communities have no representatives in the echelons of power; they play an insignificant role in the country’s social and political life. The international and regional conferences and seminars convened to discuss the problems of diasporas and ethnic minorities often ignore the problems associated with the Kurds and Assyrians living in Georgia. Their political passivity increases the communities’ isolation from Georgia’s public life while their poor command of Georgian and the difficulties of learning it make their isolation from the rest of the population even more complete.
Second, while practically the entire population of the country is very concerned with the problem of migration the Yezidi Kurds are afraid that their community may disappear altogether ; at the same time, the majority of the Assyrians plan to stay in Georgia. If the economic crisis drags on and if the old territorial conflicts breed new problems more people may wish to leave the republic. On the other hand, if the country recovers one can expect many of the emigrants to come back. In addition, if an independent Kurdish state is set up in Iraq the Kurdish community in Georgia may become more active because it maintains close ties with the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. The Assyrian autonomy in Iraq may also strengthen its position that will boost the public and political activity of the Assyrian community of Georgia.
There is no doubt that both communities will survive. The question is: how deep will they integrate into contemporary society and what role will they be prepared to play in the country’s public and political life? It seems that this will depend on the geopolitical realities and the democratic processes in the republic of Georgia.
The above research article was first published in the journal of the Central Asia & the Caucasus (3 /21, 2003), a publication of the Center for Social and Political Studies in Sweden. For more information and subscription request please visit www.ca-c.org.
Assyrian Guards Killed and Wounded in Attack in Baghdad
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Gunmen killed 4 Assyrian bodyguards and wounded two others in an attack on Thursday, 22 September in Baghdad.
In the capital's New Baghdad neighborhood, gunmen opened fire on a Nissan pickup truck that was carrying six Assyrian security guards assigned to protect Ms. Pascale Warda Esho, Assyrian and the former Iraqi Minister of Displacement and Migration. Ms. Warda was not harmed in this attack. The body guards were on their way to collect Ms. Warda Esho.
All six guards were members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa), the main Assyrian political party in Iraq. The identities of the guards killed were released as:
Mr. Nabeel Matti, a commanding officer from Bartilla, was critically injured.
Iraq's Chaldean Bishops Seek Change to Draft Constitution
Courtesy of Catholic News Service
(ZNDA: London) Chaldean bishops in Iraq are seeking last-minute changes to their country's draft constitution amid "grave concerns" that it would lead to discrimination against Christians.
Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad, Iraq, met Iraqi interim President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari Sept. 18 and asked them to remove Article 2.1 (a) from the document.
The article states that "no law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam," and Christian leaders fear it will inevitably lead to the country being governed by Shariah, or Islamic law.
Church leaders in Iraq are opposed to Shariah because it demands inequalities between Muslims and non-Muslims and between men and women. Christians say it will make them second-class citizens and spark an exodus of the faithful from a country where Christian communities have existed since the first century.
The Iraqi bishops' conference made its concerns public in a statement Sept. 19, the day after the meeting.
"The bishops' conference expressed a grave concern and fear ... about Article 2.1 (a)," the statement said. "This opens the door widely to passing laws that are unjust toward non-Muslims. This conference insists that this clause is amended or deleted."
Speaking to the British branch of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Andraos Abouna of Baghdad said the constitution contradicted itself on the question of equal rights.
"We are definitely not against the fact that in Iraq Islam is the religion of the state," Bishop Abouna said Sept. 19.
"We know that the majority in Iraq is Muslim, but the problem is that the constitution is not clear," he said.
"There are parts of the constitution which are good, but where does that leave the other parts?" Bishop Abouna asked. "For example, would Christian women have to wear the veil?"
The intervention by the 12 Iraqi bishops comes just days after Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England, received assurances from the British government that Christians in Iraq would not face discrimination under the constitution.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, in a letter dated Sept. 13 that provisions included in the document ensured that all Iraqis would be equal under the law.
The cardinal had approached Straw earlier in the month to ask him to intervene in the drafting of the constitution, arguing that Article 2.1 (a) "opens the way for the imposition of Shariah ... which would have devastating consequences for minority rights within the new Iraq."
The cardinal acted after Bishop Abouna and Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk traveled to London in July to raise their concerns with him.
But Straw's letter, a copy of which was obtained by Catholic News Service Sept. 17, said Article 2.2 "guarantees the Islamic identity of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice, such as Christians."
He said: "In other draft language, the constitution further recognizes Iraq's diversity by prohibiting discrimination on racist, ethnic, religious or any other grounds and ensures the protection of minority languages.
"Article 14 makes clear that 'Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, origin, color, religion, sect, belief or opinion, or economic and social status,'" he said.
The constitution will be put to a vote in a referendum Oct. 15.
Iraq Chaos Threatens Mandean Faith
Courtesy of BBC
(ZNDA: Damascus) Their religion, Mandeanism, comes from the same general background as Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
They share many of the same prophets, but particularly honour John the Baptist.
This is a religion almost solely confined to Iraq, but since the US-led invasion in 2003, many Mandeans have fled the country and now more than half of them live outside its borders.
The refugees speak of kidnap, murder and attempts at forced conversion.One woman, Ibtisam Sabah Habib, said there had always been some threats and pressure to convert to Islam, but under the previous Iraqi regime there had been limits.
"Now, there are no rules and no government," she said, describing how an armed gang of Islamic extremists had got into her house, killed her father and stolen all their money.
"They would telephone us at home, threatening us and trying to convert us. Then they tried to kidnap me.
"It was our neighbours who saved me. They're Muslims - not all Muslims threaten us. But the extremists are very strong now - our neighbours couldn't protect us all the time."
Ibtisam was speaking from the safety of Syria, where she has fled with her husband and children.
Mandeans have traditionally been protected under Islamic law, as believers in one god - like Jews and Christians.But since the war in Iraq, they have found themselves targeted by Sunni and Shia Islamic extremists, and by criminal gangs who use religion to justify their attacks.
One leaflet which Mandeans said had been distributed to homes in Baghdad gave this warning to both them and Christians (who form another of Iraq's minorities):
"Either you embrace Islam and enjoy safety and coexist amongst us, or leave our land and stop toying with our principles. Otherwise, the sword will be the judge between belief and blasphemy."
"They don't accept us," said Madeha Miran Daftah, who fled to Syria after her son was murdered and his corpse mutilated by people claiming to have killed an unbeliever.
"We don't know what to do now. We lost everything in Iraq. We used to feel it was our country, but things are different now."
One of her surviving sons, 24-year-old Shawq, who was kidnapped and tortured, said he could not imagine ever returning home. "I just want to live, not die like my brothers."
Another woman, Shada Hanal, said she used to work as a teacher until she was sacked for refusing to wear the Islamic headscarf. Then her brother-in-law was attacked in his shop.
"His attackers beat him up and stole everything," said Shada.
"When we went to seek justice, the judge said the Muslims had the right to steal from us. He said we were a sin in the world."Individuals from all religious and ethnic groups are suffering criminal and religious violence in Iraq, but the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has said Mandeans are particularly vulnerable.
"We're very concerned about them," said a UNHCR spokesman, Peter Kessler. "There is so much discrimination against them and even persecution, and the numbers coming out of Iraq have been enormous compared to their population there, which is so small."
Mandeans have their own language - Mandean - which is from the same family as Arabic and Hebrew.
Their central religious ceremony is baptism in flowing water, first in childhood, then marriage and at any time an individual wants to be cleansed of sin or make a life change.
Just 13,000 Mandeans are now left inside Iraq.
As the community there shrinks and people seek refuge outside, becoming a thinly scattered diaspora, many people are worried that their religion may not survive.
Maajis Saeb, a Mandean priest, says there are not enough men of religion to serve the various diaspora communities.
Luay Zahran Habib, a researcher in Mandeanism, is even more pessimistic: "Mandeanism may be finished in a few years' time if we're not gathered together somewhere, because it will be difficult to find marriage partners and perform our ceremonies.
"It's not that we want to leave Iraq for no reason. We just need a safe place."
Jaafari Visits Michigan, Addresses Chaldean Concerns
Courtesy of Detroit Free Press
(ZNDA: Detroit) Speaking to an exultant crowd in Dearborn of about 800 Detroiters, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari vowed to crack down on terrorists while protecting innocent civilians. And he said that terrorism was a global problem, linking the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States to terrorism in his own country.
With a $100,000 bounty on his head from an extremist group, Jaafari arrived in Michigan on Tuesday, 13 September amid heavy U.S. and Iraqi security. He spoke briefly to a select crowd of local Iraqi and Arab leaders, and then addressed an eager audience at the Ritz-Carlton.
Some shouted with joy during his speech. Others wept, as his presence brought back memories of Iraq's suffering under its former President Saddam Hussein. And a few chanted "Death to Saddam!"
"We were cursed with Saddam," al-Jaafari told the attentive crowd. "Now, we are cursed with the insurgents."
But, he added, the time period that Saddam Hussein ruled was a mere blip in Iraq's 7,000-year-old civilization. The time of the terrorists is also a blip, he said.
Al-Jaafari said Iraq would protect the rights of Chaldeans and other minorities. Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, a Chaldean leader, praised al-Jaafari as he introduced him.
"We're very pleased that he's taking the time to meet with us," said Shoki Konja, a Franklin resident of Chaldean descent who was at Tuesday's talk.
Al-Jaafari is respected among many local Iraqis for long opposing the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The crowd was heavily populated by Iraqi Shi'ites, who make up the majority of Iraq's diverse population and are often the targets of terrorist violence. But al-Jaafari stressed in his talk that terror harms all religions and groups.
"It is a war against humans," that is not limited to any particular land, religion, or country. America, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are just some of the countries where terrorists have killed innocents in recent years, he said.
Inside Iraq, terrorists are even going after kids.
"The child in Iraq is a target," al-Jaafari said. "The target is the whole of Iraq."
He also fretted that many terrorists are entering Iraq from other countries, where extremist groups are paying men to go and kill Iraqis.
The prime minister's visit was his first to Dearborn since he became the head of Iraq's government earlier this year. Al-Jaafari visited Dearborn in December 2002, when he lived in London as an exile leader with the Da'wa party.
Los Angeles Gets to Know John Kanno
Special report for Zinda by Rebecca Simon in California
(ZNDA: Los Angeles) Amidst the cheers of Assyrian Angelinos and a red, white, and blue themed hall, John Kanno (click here), the Assyrian Candidate for Congress was introduced. Many had only seen pictures, some had only heard about him, and a few had seen him on TV shows but all were there to support him. On Sunday, September 18, 2005, Assyrians from all walks of life gathered at the American Assyrian Association of Southern California to greet a man they had awaited many years to walk into the arena of American politics.
After a detailed introduction of John Kanno, the curious Assyrians finally got their chance to hear from him. On the aesthetics level, the audience found Kanno a tall and slender man in his forties, impeccably dressed speaking in a softened British accent.
A twenty four year resident of Modesto, California, John Kanno’s roots go back to Habania, Iraq where his parents lived with their eight children. Shortly after Kannos’ migration to England, John as the ninth and last child was born. He worked for the Ministry of Defense where they sent him to school to study electrical engineering. In 1981, John migrated to the US and is a proud and patriotic citizen of this county. He was part of a state department funded project called, “The Future of Iraq Project” along with some 260 selected staff and one of only two electrical engineers assigned to the task of rebuilding Iraq. In March of 2003, one week before leaving to Iraq, the UN building where John was supposed to stay was bombed by the terrorists and the project was put on hold and John never made it to Iraq.
Though John takes pride in his fluency in Assyrian, he chose to conduct his speech in English as his dialect may not have been fully understood by some. He pointed out his stand on gay marriage, illegal immigration, guest worker program, second amendment, and homeland security. He firmly expressed his intention to represent all Assyrians, Chaldeans, Jacobites, and Syriacs in the US. He also gave his solemn word on lobbying for the safety and well being of the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Jacobites, Syriacs, and other Christian minorities in the Middle Eastern countries. He insisted, however, that he would not work towards promoting any single organization’s agenda as he will represent the interest of all the aforementioned people. The speech was followed by question and answer session and nothing was off the limits. Everyone was encouraged to ask any burning question they had on their mind.
The Assyrian support was genuine and positive comments rampant. The evening came to a close after five hours of political exchanges and friendly interactions. The event was a great stepping stone for John Kanno. The patriotism and generosity of over 120 guests in Los Angeles not only generated nearly $25,000. at the final tally, it created an atmosphere of optism for the prospect of having an Assyrian who will promote the best interest of our beloved country, the Great United States of America as well as our people across the world. Hopefully, Los Angeles paved the way for all other organizations and associations to support John Kanno, California’s 18th district congressional candidate.
Emir of Sharja Presented 13th Cent. Assyrian Scientific Book
Courtesy of ARKA
(ZNDA: Yerevan) Last week a delegation from the United Arab Emirates's Emirate of Sharja which included Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Kasimi visited the Armenian capitol, Yerevan's Institute of Ancient Manuscripts.
The purpose of this visit was to establish cooperation between two nations' academic circles, as well as the cultural and economic spheres. "It is, of course, the beginning, and we hope that we will develop our cooperation and consolidate our friendship," the Sharja Emir said.
Pointing out that his visit has coincided with the 14th anniversary of Armenia's independence, Al-Kasimi congratulated the Armenia people on the occasion. "I wish that Armenia overcome all its difficulties from this day and easily follow the way of development," he said.
During the visit to the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, Director of the Institute, Mr. Ser Arevshatyan, presented the Sharja Emir with the work entitled "The Treatment of Horses" by Faraj, the Assyrian scientist of the 13th century, written in ancient Armenian and German.
According to Arevshatyan the present is the consideration of the Emir's love of this scientific field. Arevshatyan added that although Faraj was an Assyrian, he was a representative of the Arab scientific thought, and the Armenian translation of his book is evidence of Armenian-Arabian scientific and cultural relations.
Our Nation Loses Four of Its Bravest Sons
What a disgrace to the power of evel and vice which allow to themselves to take away the lives of four of our bravest men (Daniel Nissan, Ninos Nissan, Mahir Muneeb & Johny Youkhanna). This cowardly crime is another prove that Iraq is still a captive in the hands of the so called gangs who are controlled by outside powers.
These gangs are directed by religious leaders who feed their brains with the Fatwa to kill. I here ask all the brave and honest men and women in Iraq and everywhere around the globe to denounce this hideous crime which took away the life of four young sons of our nation.
We promise the martyrs that the fight for freedom and the fight for our rights in our homeland will continue. The spirit of our four martyrs is screaming at us and asking us to unite the powers of dignity and nationalism against all the powers of evil. Without this unity, there will be more martyrs.
Oh, Dear God, we ask you to spread your mercy upon our Nation and plant the seeds of love in the hearts of our leaders, so they can work together, hand in hand to save our Nation from dissolving, and to keep its place among other nations.
Let us forget our differences, and compromise for the sake of our beloved Nation. Stubbornness will create more disasters in our path.
This is a pledge for everyone. If you care to unite your nation stretch a helping hand and support our brave men and women on the ground in our homeland.
Long Live Our People & Long Live Assyria.
Is It Not An Appropriate Time For Our Unity
Prof Fadi Butrus Karromi
The Chaleaden -Syriac -Assyrian society suffered scattering and separation for along time of its history. The church division and the different names that our society hold were the mean reasons to give the chance for others to function this weak point to exploit our Assyrian Great Nation. The Holly Bible explained how glorious and strong this nation was in its long past history as we are eager and look to be in modern times. So it is the duty of every person to work for the sake of the unity of this nation and to remedy the injuries that occurred as a cause of the many divisions that happened in past. It is also an invitation to church men to urge their followers to this unity and also to leave the work of politic for politician.
The religious and political disputes and disagreement must be put aside and to embark in real and genuine work in the way of reconstructing the bridges of hope towards unity. As a deeply rooted community in Iraq, we must be a good model for others to look at us with the admiration that we deserve as a genuine society who enriched the world with civilization and various knowledge's via the history. It is the right time to construct the bridges of liberty and to pave new roads that lead to unity which is hoped and wanted. As a community having the elements of unity such as one history, heritage, culture, land, language and even the blood is mixed together; these make the unity realistic one. When one see such things that are alive and working actively till now, then he/she will be motivated to achieve the main goal in reunite his/her torn nation.
Let's take the European experience in consideration as a good example in this direction. The Europeans are not tied by one language, blood, or heritage; the only thing that joins them is their continent. Then the land as their common factor and the commercial and economical matters urged them to think about unity. The modern world difficulties and challenges stimulate small nations to join in order to formulate big ones; then their voice will be heard very clearly and more powerfully, and they will achieve their purposes to secure their future and progress as well. We have to take this as a lesson for reunion. The unity will give us more strength and we will never be an easy prey for others who benefit from our scattering. This will make us independent and not dependent. We are are not trivial to be led by others or to be directed and guided as a rootless nation.
Dear sisters and brothers, the name issue must never be a problem that impedes our unity. It is a more important issue to seek unity first, finding a name that represent us all secondly, and solving our religious disagreement as a third matter as an unimportant thing.
It is usual to ask: how we could achieve this unity? This noble task could be achieved through sincere and tedious work of all levels of our community as one hand. It is important to start from home, the parents advice their children; in schools, the teacher guides his pupil; in office, in church, the clergy can lead his followers as a good shepherd and to take Christ as a symbol to fulfill this noble purpose. The clubs and different communities that represent our society must have their historical responsibilities to achieve this. The dialogues, conferences, seminars and symposiums that are held will be fruitful.
Finally , all those matters to be influential must never be mere words on papers, but it must be their real work in various directions and trends not only political one but also social and religion ones.
Assyrian Diqlat School
In 2005 the Assyrian Australian Association Diqlat School of Sydney enrolled 280 students in 12 classes from Kindy to Grade 6, in addition to a music class and two Adult classes for the beginners and the advanced. The School just celebrated its 30th Anniversary and for the occasion the AAA has published a commemorative Anniversary magazine. A copy of the magazine may be sent to interested parties, if requested.
The following are the current teachers of the School :
In a special function for the Ethnic Schools two of the Diqlat school students were awarded the Minister’s Award for Excellence at a special reception held at Sydney University.
The students were:
In another function for the Ethnic Schools Annual Dinner, the following three Diqlat Schools teachers received the Certificate of Recognition for their long service (over 10 year) for the Assyrian community in language education:
Assyrian Human Rights Documentation Project
Council for Assyrian Research and Development
The Council for Assyrian Research and Development (CARD) is introducing the Assyrian Human Rights Documentation Project, to be launched on October 1st 2005. The objective of the project is to document human rights abuses endured by Assyrians both residing in the Assyrian heartland (northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, western Iran and eastern Syria) and those in the Diaspora. The essence of the project is embedded in and is a direct result of the past and continuous atrocities inflicted upon the Assyrian people.
Consequently, CARD members experienced in political advocacy are compiling a database of human rights abuses endured by Assyrians. Detailed accounts will come from throughout the world. The database will be used as a primary-source reference to advocate the Assyrian cause through various governmental and non-governmental institutions, such as the United Nations and respective NGOs.
The purpose of the project is twofold. Firstly, it is aimed at familiarizing institutions to further necessitate the protection of Assyrians residing in the Assyrian heartland Secondly, it will also be a tool which will serve to illustrate the current situation of Assyrians residing in this region to enhance national, international, regional and sub-regional advocacy initiatives taken by CARD and other Assyrian and non-Assyrian organizations.
The sources and information contained in the database and subsequent reports will remain confidential. CARD will ensure the anonymity of applicants and claimants during the advocacy process as fears of reprisals of Assyrians residing in the Middle East poses a serious threat to personal security and wellbeing.
Further information on CARD can be viewed at www.cardonline.org and access to the database will be available as of October 1st 2005 (click here). Project directors may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Please assist us in assisting our nation.
The Council for Assyrian Research and Development (CARD) was founded in May 2003 and is currently based in Toronto, Canada. As a Canadian-based think-tank and non-profit organization, CARD strives to promote greater understanding of Assyrian issues in Canada while encouraging the involvement of the Assyrian community.
"Second Homeland" Showing in San Jose
The Assyrian American Association of San Jose Proudly Presents
Please join us for a showing of Part One of this film entitled “Urmi”. This film was shot in Urmi, Iran, including many of the villages with deeply rooted Assyrian history. You are sure to be moved by this captivating film.
Miss Lina Yakubova, writer and producer of this film will be here from Armenia to share this and other documentaries she’s produced. You will also have the opportunity to purchase these films - a great addition to your personal collection.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2
"Cousins" Release Date Set for 23 October 2005
For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL, September 15, 2005 - Strategic Entertainment in association with CampaCinema Films, Hal-A-Bad Pictures and Assyrians Around the World proudly present the new Assyrian American Feature length film “Cousins”.
This Romantic Comedy adds a little spice to the Genre. While Joe and Rita are in the typical cheesy love stage of their new relationship, the dreaded obstacles that come up can only be described as unique.
Her Surgeon Father works on her arranged marriage to a particular little rich boy belonging to a particular family of surgeons. Her father’s only care in the world is to further his own career. His plans are formed without her knowledge.
Joe is caught up in a change of lifestyle when his Uncle and cousin decide to visit him from Iraq. The reason for the visit is to help Joe, a young entrepreneur, with his new business venture. The soft-spoken Cousin and temperamental “Old-School” Uncle can either help the situation or turn it into a second “Desert Storm”.
“Cousins” takes us on a wild ride where two people try to become one by fighting off the
influence of a dozen. Everyone has a hand in their life. Will they also be the helping
hand that destroys their love?
The Film is due for release on October 23, 2005.
For additional information contact:
The Crimson Field Now Available for Sale
Pearlida Publishing is proud to announce the much anticipated release of Rosie Malek-Yonan’s The Crimson Field. This historical and literary novel is now available for sale on the book’s website at (click here). Please visit the website for Reviews about the book, an Excerpt of a Chapter from the novel, and a Schedule of past and upcoming Events.
Some upcoming events include:
-- a Reception, Lecture, Question and Answer Session and Book Signing event on Sunday October 9, 2005, beginning at 3:00 p.m. at the Assyrian American Association of Southern California, 5901 Cahuenga Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA.
-- a Reception, Lecture, Question and Answer Session and Book Signing event on Sunday October 16, 2005, beginning at 3:00 p.m. at the Assyrian American Association of San Jose, 1352 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, CA.
-- a Breakfast and Book Signing on Sunday October 23, 2005, beginning after Mass at St. Mary’s Parish, 5955 Lindley Avenue, Tarzana, CA.
Please come and support an Assyrian author.
Assyrian Religious Cultural Television
Sponsored by the Assyrian Youth of San Jose
ARC TV will broadcast 3 times each week on Appadana International Satellite T.V. starting on
See Below for our regular schedule and satellite settings:
Tuesdays from 6 pm to 7 pm (PST)
The Role of Religion in Promoting World Peace
The Christian View
We live in a stressful world. Upon reviewing mankind's history we realize that lives have been wasted and innocent people's blood shed for no apparent reason.
A few years ago historians from England, Egypt, Germany and India with the help of the ex-president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences concluded in the Journal of Canadian Army that:
History, which is full of wars and unkindness, gives mankind a dark and ugly face, and it even questions the good and positive work that mankind does.
Now, the selfish and egoist mankind to complete his ugly work is using religion, which is the start of peace and mercy, to further his wrong doings.
The evil human has had no shame in destroying and running the name of God and his prophets in order to do as he pleases. One day for his personal use and gain, he starts wars of religion. While another day, for sake of his short kingdom, he crucifies innocent people, and takes away their views. And today that he is convinced he is the start of civilization, due to a few angry moves, sends his army so they can save freedom and peace by rape and slavery. During this time, he will mention religion and will be supported by the uneducated religious leaders.
Religion gives humankind the things, which cannot be gathered from anywhere. It gives truth to our efforts in life with the personal connections to the highest power in the world. Religion could be very effective for the true believers and also for the situation of their community.
Religion helps a true believer, to gain more power and satisfaction. It helps him tolerate his problems without any groaning and cursing. It gives him a way to solve the problems, and it promotes the quality of life. Religion gives him the hope of a better life in the future. It shows the particulars of an ideal community, and it gives an operable program for the deliverance and salvation.
The most distinguished role of religion is to prepare people to diagnose and find power and happiness in the world with the help of their connection to the high powers.
Religion has a very vast meaning and different aspects, so this different aspects give some different meanings to different nations. For instance:
1- Max Muller is emphasizing on the intellectual aspect of religion by saying: "Religion is power and a mental inclination that is independent; it leads mankind to believe in infinity without any role of this intellect or feeling."
2- Emanuel Kant and Mathew Arnold emphasize the moral aspect of religion in two historical and famous definitions: "Religion is to distinguish all duties as divine directions."
Religion is many morals, which are in connection to sense.
Religion is the perception of unseen world, and also it is something, that moves us into understanding or refraining. Another way to define religion is to say that religion is all of peoples inclinations about anything which is the best or the biggest in his view.
One of the newest and popular emphasis for religion is to emphasize the social aspect of it, which professor Edward Scribner Ames defines it as followed: Religion is informing factor of the highest social values.
Professor William Adams Brown by taking into account all aspects of religion defines it in the following manner: religion is the life of mankind beyond humanly connections. It is the connection of human with a greater power. He feels responsible towards this power and the unseen existence, which he is connecting to it. In the religious relationship, responsibility and connection are related to each other.
Now that we have talked fully about religion and its meaning, we are back to the question: what is the answer of religion to harshness? We will find the same answer to this question in all religions against the harshness. We must have patience and fortitude and it is not proper to respond to harshness with evil and harshness. In the Christian view, which is my belief, we can find verses in the Holy Bible that have direct and full answers to evil and harshness. In our history we know the Christ as the symbol of peace, friendship and love. We find the Christianities answer to our question by reviewing the morals of Christ; all of his advice and speeches are relating to loving each other, friendship and peace with our neighbors. And when we are calling the name of God we know that this God does not have any relation to harshness and evil. The word of the love in the Holy Bible as well as Christs first encounter with harshness teaches us:
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation but deliver us from the wicked one.
Temptation is the source of harshness. Displeasure enmity and anger are the main elements of harshness. The answer of Christians to harshness can be found in Matthew 6:12-13 which says ask for forgiveness and it can be given to you.
Now it is the time for the true believers of religion to come forward and shine the true meaning of their religion, which stands for peace, equality and good. In the Christian religion, kindness, peace and friendship have been emphasized on just like the other known religions. And we can divide the love in this section to: love of God, love of people, love of neighbor, and the most important kind of love is the one to your enemies.
Peace in Christianity has been divided to 4 sections:
1) Peace with God: We, Christians, know God as the creator of peace and the peace itself. We know God as the holy-unseen and live being without end. Our God has his own characteristics; he can do all and knows all. In the meantime, for his ways we see him as the holy, wise and kind being that he is. And now, the biggest disaster of all is that we have turned our back to the kind God and are leading this world to a sorry end. God through the Holy Bible, his prophets, and especially Jesus Christ has shown his kindness to the sinful humans. In order to accept God as the kind and giving father and live under his blessings, God is inviting us to let go of our anger and hatred.
It is not a complete love if we just love God, but we have to love all mankind regardless of their status. The first step of belief is not to only love all mankind but also to love our enemies and be kind to them as well. Love is a huge part of our religious laws. In order for the law to be fulfilled:
You must love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14).
Make my joy full in that you are the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind, doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the other are superior to you (Philippians 2:2-3).
Since love is the most important aspect of Christianity, there are numerous versus in the bible speaking about love.
If anyone makes the statement: I love God, and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, who he has seen, cannot be loving God, who he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also (1 John 4:20-21).
Jesus answered: The first is, Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength. The second is this, You must love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:29-31).
Peace with God is the most important message of Christianity. Just like it is said in the Second Corinthians Chapter 5 Lines 17-20:
Consequently if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, look! New things have come into existence. But all things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of the reconciliation, namely, that God was by mean of Christ reconciling a world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and he committed the word of the reconciliation to us.
Jesus Christ says in Matthew 5:5: Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth. From this verse we can learn that we cannot possess the earth with harshness and evil.
We read in Matthew 22:36-38: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? He said to him: you must love Jehovah your God with your whole soul and your whole mind. In the rest of the verse we see the answer of religion to harshness. The second, like it, is this, you must love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Because if someone loves his neighbor like himself, his faults will not cause evil and harshness but will lead to peace in society.
God is love, and he that remains in love remains in union with God and God remains in union with him (1 John 4:16).
In our view, if someone does not compromise with the Lord, he cannot have peace and joy with himself and his soul. Our holy father has showed us the way of joy and peace and has called us to be his sons.
2) Peace with Self: If someone knows his Lord and his God, he certainly knows himself too. In another word, theism and self-knowledge are related to each other. In this time a real tranquility and peace will take over mans mind, soul and heart; he will become a new person.
Man without religion and without God becomes a bewildered and fidgety one. He usually sees his future in darkness and has many issues with others. Below is a verse from the Holy Bible about this kind of people:
There is not a righteous [man], not even one; there is no one that has any insight, there is no one that seeks for God. All [men] have deflected, all of them together have become worthless; there is no one that does kindness, there is not so much as one. Their throat is an opened grave they have used deceit with their tongues poison of asps is behind their lips. And their mouth is full of cursing and bitter expression. Their feet are speedy to shed blood. Ruin and misery are in their ways and they have not known the way of peace (Romans 3:8-10).
This is a dark picture of a sinner who is far away from the log and God. But some one, who has found God and has devoted his life to God and his sayings, is full of kindness and love and he is living in peace with his people who are in his surroundings.
3) Peace with others: religion is not limited to a personal relationship with a person and his God; religion wants to certainly have an impact on the community.
In Christianity everything is starting with the personal belief, but that alone is not enough if he does not show it by acting in a Christian manner.
We read in (James 2:14-18) my brothers if a certain one says he has faith but he dose not have works? That faith cannot save him can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day yet a certain one of you says to them: Go in peace keep warm and well fed but you do not give them the necessities for [their] body of what benefit is it? Thus too faith if it dose not have works is dead in itself.
To [your] knowledge self-control to [your] self-control endurance to [your] endurance godly devotion (2 Peter 1:6-7).
You heard that it was said you must love your enemy however I say to you: continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you (Matthew 5:43-45).
Beloved ones let us continue loving one another because love is from God and everyone who loves has been born from God and gains the knowledge of God (1 john 4:7-8).
If we love one another, God abided in us, and his charity is perfected in us. At no time has anyone beheld God. If we continue loving one another, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us (1 John 4:12).
We also see in Corinthians 13:4: Love is long-suffering and kind, love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up.
We can see in these verses that Christianity has a special stress and emphasize on personal belief and the personal relationship with others and living with peace in the world. Christianity was born in a wild condition in the world. But in that unsafe condition, forerunners of Christianity emphasized that we must answer evil by good. They insisted that Christians show their goodness to those that harm them so they can regret their wrong doings. Christians must live in peace and never think of revenge.
It was such behavior that led to the change of attitude in Rome and its emperor. He converted to Christianity and surrounded to Gods love; that led to a change in the world. The believers, who were sent to die by the wild animals, went singing and with the mercy of their Lord their words lived on. Even after three centuries have passed, Christianity has grown and taken over the world.
4) Peace with the World: In conclusion all of this might be ending in peace of the world. The most important aim of all religions is to give self-knowledge, and theism to people in order to change the person for better. Our duties are to improve this manner of world peace.
It has been said that if the cost of the armies, for 2 weeks, was to be spent on the economic problems, the world poverty and hunger would end.
The rich and the powerful continue to look for ways to improve their own status; they even tend to cause small and big wars for their own benefits. Unfortunately during this time, they even use religious leaders support to justify their act.
Our religious leaders must come to the realization and not let the rich and powerful use religion of peace and goodness for their own advantage. The deceased St. John Paul II was one of those leaders that stood up to the powerful and rich and protected the true meaning of Christianity. His holiness Patriarch Mar Denkha IV, the religious leader of Assyrians, continues to preach and encourage the believers to act in a peaceful and Christian manner to achieve world peace.
We hope that the advice and encouragements of our religious leaders will follow us through out our lives. So what the prophets have said will become factual: and they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears (Isaiah 2:4).
In conclusion, we must say in the eyes of the Christ the answer to religion and philosophy is kindness.
Assyrian Poetry, An International Mission
Bellos and Susan Nisan
While the Assyrian nation was commemorating Martyr's Day this past August 7, two of our best-known contemporary poets were on a mission to promote the Assyrian literature and culture at a worldwide gathering of poets. These two determined men have expanded their nationalistic calling beyond the internal affairs of our beloved nation to inform and educate poets worldwide about the beauty and richness of Assyrian literary works.
Assyrian poets Yosip Bet Yosip and Ninos Aho represented the nation of “occupied Assyria” at the 25th annual meeting of the World Academy of Arts and Culture in Los Angeles from August 6th to 10th. “Peace through Poetry” is the motto of the World Congress of Poets, an organization with its roots in UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Among its goals are a global network of poets, the organization of anthologies of poetry in other languages, and the promotion of poetry to upcoming generations.
Our dedicated Assyrian poets exemplified these goals and earned many friends among the 123 poets in attendance at the 2005 event. In fact, their literary colleagues voted Rabi Yosip and Rabi Ninos as the most helpful and popular participants this year.
Other international attendees at the conference represented primarily Latin American, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese poetry, music and the arts. Most poems were about nature and daily life events, and very few had themes of social criticism. In contrast, the Assyrian poems, translated into English, were about the takeover of Assyrian lands and the injustices committed against the indigenous people of Mesopotamia. Rabi Yosip’s and Ninos’ works generated sympathy among the poets and the many guests as the two men had the opportunity to discuss the plight of Assyrians in Iraq and those dispersed worldwide.
Rabi Yosip Bet Yosip is a devoted language teacher of our upcoming generation, the current president of the Assyrian Club of Urhai in Ceres, California and a vice-president on the executive board of the World Council of Poets. In 2002 in Romania, an honorary doctorate was conferred upon him for his body of nationalistic poetry and cultural achievement. Rabi Yosip has actively participated in past congresses in Australia and China, and has submitted his poetry to the congress’ gathering in Korea, as well.
Rabi Ninos Aho is a father of grown children and former businessman now committed to his literary pursuits. His support of Assyrian heritage is so strong that he actually moved from the United States to Mesopotamia to raise his children in their ancestral homeland. He currently travels widely promoting Assyrian culture and attended the World Congress of Poets for the second time at the Los Angeles gathering and was well-received both times. Our distinguished poets are now preparing their presentations for the 26th annual meeting, which will be held in Mongolia in 2006. Assyrians worldwide should be proud of these two artists who are reaching beyond their own community to inform others of our rich heritage and current situation as a displaced nation with an occupied homeland.
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