28 Yaar 6755
Volume XI

Issue 28

18 May 2005


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

Mar Delly Reaches to Western Leaders

This Week in Zinda

The Lighthouse
  Nasb Al Shaheed (Martyr’s Monument) of Baghdad Eddie Beth Benyamin
Good Morning Assyria
  Georgian Assyrian Leader Meets Bush
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News Digest
  Mar Delly Visits France, President Chirac
Saadi Speaks on Political Reforms in Syria
Saadi's Presentation in Damascus on Reforms in Syria
Lebanese Christian Groups Gather to Reject Electoral Law
Romantic Comedy “Cousins”
City of San Jose Commends Assyrian Student
AACC of Turlock Honors Nardine Mansoor
Surfs Up!

No Comparison
Church is Not a Democracy
Peera Reflects Opinion of the Silent Majority
The Value of Respect
Mar Aprem Metropolitan
Whose Alphabet is it Anyway?
The Elusive Assyria Rainbow
Assyrian Students Score High in County Pentathlon

Alan M. Jacob
Vienna Jacob
Voltaire E Warda
Joseph Haweil
Ann-Margaret Yonan
David Youkhana
Filham Y. Isaac
Susan Nisan

Seminary by Mar Aprem Metropolitan

  My Stand Fred Aprim
Columnist Corner
    Ivan Kakovitch
  Vanessa Denha Scott Lorenz
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The Lighthouse
Feature Article

Nasb Al Shaheed (Martyr’s Monument) of Baghdad

Eddie Shamasha Gewargis Beth Benyamin

Martyr’s Monument in Baghdad standing silent, built next to Madeenat Al’Ab (an amusement park) in the early 1990's, a man-made waterworks behind it.

Here in the United States, each year we commemorate our fallen Armed Forces on the Memorial Day. What about the Iraqi soldiers? Who will pay tribute to their sacrifices? Come and follow me. I will take you to a place in Baghdad where they were remembered.

Baghdad. December 27, 2003

I, as a U.S. national born in Nineveh, Iraq, along with 6 man team of non-Iraqi origin, embarked on a daring second attempt fact finding mission to Martyr’s Monument on the north side of Baghdad. We loaded two vehicles with necessary life supporting items and took off from Baghdad International airport area south of the city where we stationed.

We drove through troubled Haifa Street, into many bad neighborhoods, came across civilians carrying AK 47’s, a sweating and real heart beating situation. We reached the bridge up north of the city over the Tigris River connecting south to north. Mile long bumper to bumper cars were jamming the bridge.

It is a real danger if we were to merge into them. We drove in a wrong way over the bridge opposite of incoming traffic, a clear moving violation. We didn’t care. Guns were drawn, firing in air; angry drivers were yelling and swirling to avoid head on collision with us. Finally, we reached the end of the bridge. It was bombed by coalition forces earlier, the last 30 feet of it was a makeshift scaffold similar to transporter truck of new vehicles from the factory to the dealer. It can only hold maximum weight of one truck. Finally, it was our turn to cross over it, any confusion or misjudgment will cause us plunge in to Tigris River. We where recognized by motorist on the bridge as foreign nationals. It was very frightened moment.

Author pointing at some names starting with the letter “Y” in the Arabic alphabet.

Banana vendors, most of them kids, were blocking our way, begging us to buy bananas. Fisk fight broke out among them. It was a real chaos. Thank God they were not carrying guns with them.

We finally crossed the bridge in to the city of Kadhimiyya, where the starting point of a long Army canal “Qanat Al Jaysh” is. We were speeding parallel to the canal. Traffic lights were broken and disabled. We saw the skeleton of apartment complexes, burned buildings, looted stores, cars stripped off to its frames.

We reached Sadr city, a couple of apache helicopters were hovering overhead securing that area, tanks and armored vehicles were along that roadside. After a long and treacherous trip, we finally reached U.S. army check point at the Martyr’s Monument, we took a deep breath and were relieved somehow, a U.S. Army brigade was stationed there guarding it from looters.

It is a 20 story gigantic duel sea shell blue tile covered structure built in honor of hundreds of thousands of fallen Iraqi soldiers in a bloody 8 year long war between Iran and Iraq. We reached the main entrance, a 12 feet high circular outer stone wall. Here I saw names in alphabetical order of the fallen solders carved on the wall. Among the countless names, my eyesight fell on some Assyrian names. I stood in a moment of silence in their honor.

What a breathtaking moment. I forgot about the whole difficulties we encountered in our trip. I started taking pictures of very few of them that I was able to find. It was forbidden to do so during the former regime. Not only that, but it was not accessible to the public but only for foreign dignitaries and diplomats. Behind the outer wall there was inner wall that was designated for the names that started with Abd, such as Abd Allah. I passed that inner wall through a brick circular driveway that withstood heavy loads of armored vehicles parked on it. Here was another main wall also where thousands of names were carved on.

I got inside the main building. Wow, what a breathtaking sight. All marble floor and slabs of shiny walls, a 2 story high circular marble walls. Countless names were also carved on it. It was too high to zoom in with my camera. There were mausoleums of lots of high ranking officers. I saw a few local Assyrians keeping the building in utmost cleanliness, constantly mopping the marble floors from boot prints of U.S. soldiers. They were delighted to see me. Inside the building there was a theater, gift shop, exercise room, indoor pool, cafeteria, library, chapel, priceless chandeliers, etc. We stayed one night there and then we headed back to where we started. This time we drove through the city of Dora, which was a little safer route.

On July 1, 2004 the United States army handed this awesome Monument to Iraqi security forces.

On September 19, 2004 an aerial view of it appeared to be deserted. So let us not forget about them, let us remember them on our May 29 memorial day this year.

Here are few names of our beloved ones that I was able to find:

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Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Georgian Assyrian Leader Meets Bush, Calls for Autonomous State in Iraq

(From left: Mr. Edgar Bitbunov, president of the Assyrian International Congress of Georgia, Mr. George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, and Mr. Mikhail Saakasjvili, President of Republic of Georgia.)

Courtesy of the Furkono Magazine
15 May 2005

President George Bush during last week's visit to the former Soviet Union republic of Georgia, in the city of Tbilisi, met with the head of the Georgian Republic, Mr. Mikhail Saakasjvili and other officials.  Among the guests of the Georgian government was Mr. Edgar Bitbunov, president of the Assyrian International Congress of Georgia, who asked President Bush for his assistance in the formation of an autonomous state for Assyrians in Iraq.

Mr. B itbunov asked the U.S. President the following direct question: "Nowadays American and Georgian forces are on the Assyrian grounds in Iraq. Of course, we aren't indifferent to the fortune of Assyrians in Iraq. What's their future like? What can you say about that?"

President Bush replied: "We consider that every nation is equally responsible to find its own way to develop and achieve its own objective. Assyrians are equal in right to any other peoples living in Iraq these days. Assyrians, as with other people in Iraq, first of all should change their way of thinking, should act more persistently, resolutely and bravely to achieve their own objectives and principles - all these are in their hands. The United States always stands for, defends and supports people who fight for justice, freedom, independence and democracy."

According to unofficial estimates there may be as many as 10,000 Assyrians living in the Republic of Georgia. 

To following is a copy of the 'appeal' submitted by the Assyrian International Congress of Georgia:

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News Digest
News From Around the World

Mar Delly Visits France, President Chirac

Courtesy of Reuters & the Anglican Communion

(ZNDA: Paris)  His Beatitude, Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, visited the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Paris, France, where the Solemn Evensong was sung in his honor. The Patriarch's visit to the Cathedral is part of his ongoing visit to France, where an estimated 16,000 Chaldeans make their home. The Right Reverend Pierre Whalon, who is among those facilitating the Patriarch's visit to France, noted that the purpose of the trip was both religious and diplomatic. While visiting France, His Beatitude will ordain three deacons at the Chaldean parish of St Thomas the Apostle in Sarcelles, a suburb of Paris.

On the afternoon of May 16, the Patriarch met with President Jacques Chirac to share his perspective on the evolving circumstances in his country since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

French President Jacques Chirac (R) meets with the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, His Beatitude Mar Emmanuel III Delly at the Elysee Palace in Paris on 16 May. Photo by Reuters/Jacques Brinon/Pool.

The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Rev. Zachary Fleetwood, officiated at the vesper service in the packed church. Dean Fleetwood in his opening remarks welcomed the Patriarch and other invited guests, including leaders of the French Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, Reformed, and Lutheran churches, and representatives of the American Embassy and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In his homily given in English and French, Bishop Whalon began by conveying to Emmanuel III the greetings and prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most. Rev. & Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams. He also read a letter of welcome from Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Whalon then thanked the Patriarch for welcoming him to Baghdad in February 2003, just before the conflict there began. Bishop Whalon had expressed there the opposition of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to a war, and at the Patriarch's invitation, led an ecumenical service for peace.

Whalon commented that he was changed by his trip to Iraq. The experience made him more aware of the ancient churches of the Orient, of which he had been previously ignorant. He expressed his hope that Americans and French people (Whalon is a citizen of both countries) will become more and more aware of the Churches in Iraq. 'The more we know of Iraqi Christians, the better we will remember you and our duty toward you and all Iraqi Christians.'

Quoting Bishop Griswold, Whalon underlined to the Patriarch the "deep pain" felt by Griswold and all Episcopalians for "your suffering in the aftermath of our nation's attack, which we did everything to try to prevent." He called upon "all people of good will" now to support the new democracy being born in Iraq, saying that religious tolerance was necessary not only for the survival of Iraqi Christians, but indeed all Iraqis. "It is therefore imperative that we all support this new democracy," said Whalon, "it is our duty." He concluded by expressing to the Patriarch his hope that they could meet again "on the banks of the Tigris, where there will be peace."

A formal reception followed for Emmanuel III, who in his remarks thanked Bishop Whalon and Dean Fleetwood for their warm welcome, and especially for the sincere expression of support and care for the Chaldeans and all Iraqi Christians. The Patriarch said that their plight extends to all humanity, for we all deeply desire to live in peace. He received a gift of a leather-bound French-English Book of Common Prayer, one of four bilingual texts published by the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. The Patriarch gave his benediction to the packed parish hall before departing.

Saadi Speaks on Political Reforms in Syria

Zinda:  The following is the full text of Mr. Bachir Isaac Saadi's speech delivered on 6 May 2005 in al-Hassak on the subject of political reforms in Syria. Mr. Saadi is the chairman of the Assyrian Democratic Organization (Takasta)'s Political Bureau.

In the beginning I would like to thank those who organized this meeting in this very sensitive period of our country’s history, a time which requires from all the parties alertness and carefulness as regards the steps taken, the assessments of the events taking place around us, as well as the visions of how our county's future would be.

Needless to say that the area in general and Syrian in particular is going through a very delicate and dangerous phase. We hear and see what is happening everyday in Iraq and Lebanon, as well as the threats against Syria from the American administration, the plans being prepared in the Congress for “the liberation of Syria “ and the law of “considering the Baath party as a terrorist organization“. All these are extremely serious developments that would affect not only the regime in Syria but the majority of the Syrian people. Misfortunes such as this, do not differentiate between an ordinary citizen or state officials, besides, we are convinced that the public and political picture in Iraq is more or less similar to that in Syria. Hence, the serious question about our future springs up: What are the plans prepared for Syria in the Western circles ? How are we going to deal with them? And what is the role of the patriotic forces outside the Patriotic Progressive Front? Is the regime going to handle this crisis without involving the active forces in the society? Are we going to wait for the promised changes following the 10th convention of the Baath party? No one, so far, has been able to answer any of these questions.

America is convinced now that the antagonism against her and the West comes from the totalitarian regimes, whether religious or nationalistic, that is why she is pressuring the Arab countries to introduce democratic changes, assuming that these changes would help open up these societies from closed up regimes that provides ground for the propagation of terrorist ideas, into open ones prone to the surveillance and control of her agencies. This is an overt American policy and does not need any further confirmation. Hence, as patriotic forces seeking democracy, and through democracy freedom, prosperity, sovereignty and independent national resolution, should we put off our demands of reform because America also insists on them for her own reasons? Or should we all, opposition and the regime, strive to speed up these reforms, achieving thus, a strong national unity that would face the threats and strip America of the pretexts of targeting and weakening us ? The answer in my opinion is obvious, we should all, jointly and strongly, keep on insisting on these reforms.

Everybody is waiting to see these reforms, in the structure of the regime and in the society, even factions in the Baath ruling party and in the other Front parties are keen on seeing theses changes. Everybody acknowledges the prevalence of widespread corruption and a chronic crisis and further, the great need for reforms, yet everyone has his own assessment and views depending on his ideology as regards these reforms. We, in ADO, see that this crisis is the natural offspring of the totalitarian regime itself, which has ruled Syria since Al-Baath party took over the power, and even before that since the union between Syria and Egypt. This was the case with all the totalitarian regimes that have ruled more than half of the countries of this globe for about half a century, these regimes, some international some national others religious, have failed to achieve freedom, prosperity, justice and equality for their people, and the failure was not only due to the mistakes of the absolute ruler or the leadership but also was inherent in these regimes, that have produced replicas of themselves, generated corruption everywhere and dehumanized the people.

From the ongoing debate in the political arena among some political factions, we notice that they differ on the distant goals, which are the principal ones, whereas they agree upon one thing, which is, the necessity for change defined as "reform ". This is considered a short-term and temporary consensus and alignment which actually contains the seeds of disagreement and dissension about the nature of the new system and constitution. Many political parties, nationalist, religious or Marxists, are still clinging to their totalitarian programs but agree upon the necessity for reforms as a temporary tactic. In our opinion, this in not the aim that the Syrian people wishes to accomplish or at least what the democratic forces want.

Our organization has put forward its vision of the political and social system since its inception in 1957, that is the establishment of “a democratic, multiple and secular system based on the principles of justice, equality and human rights including the rights of minorities within the context of the unity of state and society. Full equality of women with men. Recognition of Assyrian Syriac people and the Syriac culture and language as a national original status “. In addition to rejecting all forms of violence, and the use of peaceful, civilized and democratic means to reach the ends.

Our own concept of democracy is a clear cut one, we believe in the same democracy now applied in the northern hemisphere, we see in it the system that guarantees rotation of power peacefully according to the will of people and the ballot boxes. We see in it the separation of authorities, the supremacy of law, the neutrality of army, the separation between religion and politics not society, and further, a place where all citizens are equal before the law, a place where people wish to live in peace and reject all calls for wars. In short, we see in it a real democratic constitution, far from all artificial or ideological terms.

As regards our vision on the possibility of democratic change in Syria, we think it is possible. Syrians are civilized and open people and had experienced democracy in the fifties. But a sudden and speedy transition to democracy after years of totalitarianism and despotism may create chaos and anarchy. In our current situation the secular democratic forces are weak, unprepared, while the ready alternative is the fanatical and religious forces. Hence we see the importance of gradual transformation to democracy. But this should not be interpreted as delaying the reforms, this is usually the pretext cited by the authorities for delaying reforms, but we think there is really great hazard in taking speedy uncalculated steps. Hence owing to the gravity of the moment, the regime bears historic responsibility in this transition period, and we further avail ourselves of this opportunity to call upon the president to personally adopt and take charge of this reform process and all the democratic forces in the country would be on his side, fully supporting him. We feel that time is ripe for this transformation provided that there is political will and determination for that.

But in case there is no response on the part of the authorities, the patriotic forces have no choice but to take the initiative and call for the convening of a general conference in order to set out their common vision for reforms and program for a peaceful democratic change in the country.

We further believe that the real introduction to the supposed reform process should be based on the following:

  1. Revoking emergency and martial laws.
  2. Revoking all exceptional courts, such as State Security Court, and the rulings passed by them.
  3. Releasing from prison all the political detainees and prisoners of conscious, and closing once and for all the file of political detention.
  4. Issuing a modern democratic law, concerning the political parties, that would take into consideration the cultural, political and ethnic diversity in Syria, as well as a modern law for elections that would guaranty a true representation for all components of the Syrian society.
  5. Granting citizenship to all those stripped of it, especially to our Kurd brothers due to the 1962 census
  6. Acknowledging the ChaldoAssyrian Syriacs as an original people in Syria and the Syriac culture and language as an original national one that should be revived and protected
  7. To consider Syria as a permanent home for all its sons and the Syrian identity with all its civilized, cultural, religious and national diversity as one last, unifying and national identity.
  8. The agreement upon the constitution starts firstly, with the cancellation of article eight stipulating the monopoly of power by the Baath party. Secondly, the cancellation of article three about the religion of the head of state as a step for separation between religion and politics.
  9. To consider the declaration of human rights and the other relevant international conventions a part of the constitution and the new national bond as regards individual freedoms, equality between man and woman and minority rights within the context of the unity of sate.
  10. Keeping the army away from politics and neutralize it, the army’s duty should be to protect and defend the country.
  11. To draw a comprehensive plan for administrative, economic, educational and media reform and to combat corruption by treating its causes.

Saadi's Presentation in Damascus on Reforms in Syria

Zinda:  The following is the full text of the presentation delivered by Mr. Bachir Isaac Saadi in Damascus, Syria on the political reforms in that country. The presentation was made on 7 May at the Jamal al-Atasy Forum.

In the beginning I would like to thank Jamal Al-Atasy forum for inviting us to this patriotic democratic meeting which is considered really a step in the right direction toward achieving a democratic future for our people.


In the past years, an ongoing debate and dialogue have been going on in Syrian amongst different political cultural and economic organizations on the problems of (change and reform ), issues which have become pressing in the Syrian society. These organizations have been striving to put forward their reform programs and prospects of desired changes in this phase. This round-table discussion that combines us as patriotic political powers in Syria comes as an important step towards practicing and reinforcing the democratic process in the direction of reform and change.

To put this debate on the right truck and obtain the best desired benefit from it, we think that the history of Syria should be read from a different prospective, based on objectivity rather than on outdated narrow nationalistic, religious and fanatical ideologies or prejudice. The truth is that the Syrian history has not started with the Arabs. The civilization of this county is richer and more diverse than to be attributed to one people to the exclusion of the others, it is the product of efforts of many ethnicities and people who have lived here throughout history. In this context, we think it is wrong to view the concept of the (national identity ) of the Syrian state as something fully accomplished and to further consider (Pan-Arabism and Islam ) the only undisputed identity for the Syrian society which is characterized by cultural, linguistic and religious diversity. In Syria nowadays, live other nationalities whose existence predated the Arabs themselves, such as the Assyrians (Syriacs and Chaldeans ), who have given their name to Syria, as well as Kurds, Armenians, Turkmen and Chichans, each of these have their own culture and constitute an original component of the Syrian national fabric.

As a matter of fact, there is a deep rift and schism in the national bond among various factions of the Syrian society. The diversity of our society, instead of becoming a source of national wealth and richness, has become a destabilizing factor that has put our national unity in jeopardy, due to chauvinist policies of the dominating Arab nationalists and the cultural, political and nationalistic despotism practiced against the other nationalities.

To rectify these drawbacks and to heal the lack of integration in the society and further to consolidate the national unity, it is necessary to redefine and to reformulate the concept of the cultural identity of Syria, so that it would become a national harmonious identity reflecting and expressing all the colors - cultural, social and religious –of Syria's spectrum. We are fully confident, that such steps, would reinforce national unity and further ward off ethnic and sectarian conflicts the likes of which have become widespread in Iraq. Moreover, it is obvious to everybody that the cultural, ethnic, religious and social structure of the Syrian society is very much similar to that of Iraq, so, no sane person wishes to see in Syria what has happened in Iraq. Hence, It is about time, that everybody renounced his nationalistic sectarian plans for the sake of the (national state), a condition which rises above other narrow ideologies and dogmas, and makes Syria a permanent home for all its sons, a place where all nationalities would assimilate voluntarily not forcibly, a place for democracy, human rights and citizenship without distinction of race, religion or political orientation.

Steps of Reform

No doubt, there are a lot of questions to be answered, but we think the best thing to start with is diagnosing the crisis, defining the causes and then moving on to confront them with transparency and high responsibility. This, on the other hand, makes incumbent upon the state to open up on the various active forces in the society and involve them in the discussions and the process of finding solutions for the crisis through a comprehensive national dialogue and a common, agreed upon program for reform, as no party whether in the opposition or the Front claims to have a magic wand or ready solution for the country's problems.

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The second step starts with the political reform which we believe is a key solution for the other problems economic, administrative, educational, cultural and social. Any delay in implementing this reform on the pretext that priority should be given to others is very much like putting the cart in front of the horses. Moreover, we would like to stress here on the option of the gradual reforms, past experiences have shown the failure of revolutionary or military coups, and the clearest example is the case of the Syrian people which is still paying the price of the chauvinistic policy practiced by the Baath party since the coup of 1963 that brought him to power, Added to this, we sense an increasing tendency among the Syrian people for democratic changes, political reform and rotation of power through gradual transformation from within and with participation of all patriotic forces in the country.

The fundamental step in political reform lies in drafting a new constitution based on the principles of secularism, democracy, human rights and separation between religion and state. A constitution that would express true citizenship and partnership in the country. A constitution that would end the monopoly of the Baath party and would provide equal opportunities for everybody to assume power constitutionally, and acknowledge the cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity of Syrian society. A constitution that would be free from clauses and articles -that breed segregation, racial and religious discrimination – like article 3, clause 1 that says " the religion of the head of state is Islam ", clause 2 of the same article " Islamic jurisprudence is the principle source of legislation", and clause 3 "al-Baaath party is the leader of the state and society”. What democracy or national unity can come from a constitution that racially and politically segregates its people ? Ignoring fundamental issues such as these which are part and parcel of the democratic process, would let us fall in the pitfalls of theory and practice, contradiction and opposition between demanding democracy and practicing it on the ground.

The Syrian people, no doubt, live mixed feeling of confusion, despair and political frustration nowadays, seeing their country at a crossroad, and knowing well the state of separation and weakness the liberal and secular forces –which constitute the Syrian opposition - are suffering from. Moreover, the forces opposing to any change and reform in the country are still in control of the state and society. Needless to say, these forces are not going to surrender their privileges easily but on the contrary they are going to fight till the last. In spite of that, we are fully confident that reform and modernization of the country is still possible provided that certain conditions are met. The foremost being, the readiness of authorities for reform and the relinquishment of their disposition for monopoly and power. In this regard, much hope is placed on the democratic and active trends in the Baath party itself, the existence of such a democratic Baathist trend is very important for a real, healthy and non-violent democratic transformation in Syria.

As a matter of fact, laws alone can not reform societies or bring democracy. Democracy is built throughout a continuous sequence of cultural social and historical growth, it is a gain obtained through struggle and sacrifice, it is not bestowed upon people via presidential decrees or a governing -party resolutions. Nevertheless, the importance of modern and contemporary laws should not be belittled, these laws free the active forces and the civil right organizations such as (parties, media, economy, education, organizations ) from the despotism of the state.

We think achieving all these goals depend on :

  1. Revoking emergency and martial laws.
  2. Revoking all exceptional courts, such as State Security Court and the rulings passed by them.
  3. Releasing from prison all the political detainees and prisoners of conscious, and closing once and for all the file of political detention.
  4. Granting citizenship to all those stripped of it - especially to our Kurd brothers- due to the 1962 census and allowing all the political exiles to return to the country.
  5. Issuing a modern democratic law, concerning the parties, that would take into consideration the cultural, political and ethnic diversity in Syria.
  6. Issuing a democratic modern law for legislative and regional elections that would guaranty a true representation for all components of Syrian society.
  7. Acknowledging the ChaldoAssyrian Syriacs as an original people in Syria and the Syriac culture and language as an original national one that should be revived and protected.
  8. Passing new laws that would protect society from religious and nationalistic fanaticism and segregation.
  9. Working out secular plans based on democracy and human rights for educating the youth at schools.
  10. The constitution should preserve the political and cultural rights of all the minorities in Syria.
  11. Full equality between man an woman and the elimination of all forms of segregation.
  12. The reform should involve all aspects of life, political, economic, social educational, administrative and judicial as well as combating corruption by treating the causes.
  13. Independence of judiciary and separation between the judiciary, executive and the administrative authorities.
  14. Keeping the army away from politics and neutralize it, the army’s duty should be to protect and defend the country.

No doubt, the regime bears the greatest responsibility for the economic crisis in Syria and for the deteriorating living, educational, cultural and scientific conditions. Corruption in all state agencies and sectors is widespread, and the utilization and distribution of the country's wealth is terrible. One of the big questions frequently asked in this regard is the following: What kind of a development plan is able to take in 200.000 persons thrown every year into the labor market in Syria due to the very high rate of population growth ??!! For sure this will lead up to a greater unemployment, poverty and will have very bad consequences on the future of the country. But on the other hand, these problems also have deeply rooted historical causes, related to the cultural and social heritage, added to this, the ignorance and backwardness inherent in the society. These very serious issues should be tackled transparently and boldly. If there is no limit to the terrible population growth rate, and no laws controlling the high birth-rate and ridding women of oppression and slavery, there will be no glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

On the level of foreign relations, it is very important that Syria establishes best relations with the neighboring Arab and non-Arab countries, relations based on cooperation, friendship, mutual respect and common interests.

Thanks for your listening.

Lebanese Christian Groups Gather to Reject Electoral Law

Courtesy of the Daily Star
14 May 2005
By Raed El Rafei

(ZNDA: Beirut)  To assert their total rejection of the "unfair" 2000 electoral law, representatives of the Lebanese Christian parties and movements as well as prominent Christian Beiruti personalities gathered at the Gabriel Hotel in Ashrafieh last Friday.

This event was an opportunity for right-wing Christian groups to freely speak out after the withdrawal of the Syrian army and secret services from Lebanon.

"The aim of this meeting is to express our full support for the Maronite Bishops' Council and Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir who are fighting for the rights of the Christians in Lebanon," said the coordinator of the meeting Rami Chidiac, a member of the outlawed party Guardians of the Cedars.

In a final statement, Mr. Habib Efram, president of the Syriac Union and secretary general of Christian Lebanese Unions, called for a "technical delay in the parliamentary elections, scheduled to begin at the end of this month, until agreement on a just electoral framework is reached."

The meeting also ended attempts of "setting up consensual electoral lists and creating alliances as a way to undermine the misbalance of the current electoral law." The participants insisted instead on passing a new electoral law to give all Lebanese groups fair chances during the elections.

Addressing the international monitors of the upcoming elections representing the European Union and the UN, the statement also stressed that real democracy can only be guaranteed by a law truly representing the Lebanese will. This closing came as criticism to recent calls from the international community that elections be held on time under any circumstances.

During the meeting speakers expressed their frustration with respect to the current political situation.

Maroun Abu Rjaili, head of the Roman Catholic Union, slammed opposition leaders for "abandoning their declared principles in favor of narrow personal interests linked to the elections." He added that, "the present law marginalizes the Christians in Lebanon and thus, is in total discord with the spirit of the Taif Accords."

Nabil Meshantaf, president of the Lebanese Movement Party, reminded the audience that "late former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri had agreed on the electoral law of 1960 which is based on small districts (qada) because it guarantees national unity."

David Issa criticized opposition figure Saad Hariri for his latest positions and urged him to have "a clear stance towards the Christian community which supported him and his family after the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri".

Protesting against the present political system, meeting attendee Iyad Bustani called for the creation "of a federation in Lebanon, following the Belgian model for example, so that each confessional group can elect its representatives."

Romantic Comedy “Cousins” Mainstream Crossover for Assyrian Producers

Courtesy of RealChicago.com
18 May 2005

Strategic Entertainment partners Martin Khoshaba (left) and Billy Haido

(ZNDA: Chicago)   Assyrian-language film producers Strategic Entertainment take a step toward the mainstream market with the production of “Cousins,” their new mixed Assyrian- and English-language romantic comedy.

“Cousins” marks Strategic Entertainment’s first effort to reach audiences beyond its core ethnic constituency. It’s the company’s first feature with a significant portion in English, and the first that will feature English subtitles for the Assyrian dialogue.

“We might do three to five more Assyrian films and then go mainstream,” said writer-director Martin Khoshaba.

Crystal Dinha (“Las Vegas”) and Jacob Alexander (“Poetic Emancipation”) star as a young couple in love but kept apart by class differences.

“The story really targets the younger crowd but the older crowd will love it just as much,” Khoshaba said. “I’ve always been a firm believer that parents shouldn’t step in their children’s way when they really like someone because the boy or girl they like are not as fortunate as they are.”

Jacob Alexander stars in “Cousins”

“Cousins” also features Abbee Sarkis and Hani Nuri. Executive producer is Billy Haido, Khoshaba’s partner in Strategic Entertainment.

Producers are Ron Rehana of Hal-a-Bat Films and H. Adoni Esho of CampaCinema. Esho and Rehana were director and producer, respectively, of last year’s Assyrian- and English-language drama “Poetic Emancipation.” Assistant producer is Jeremy Mangin.

“Cousins” shoots for 23 days in June on DV on a $75,000 to $100,000 budget. Principal photography is in Chicago, with additional shooting in Detroit.

Through Strategic Entertainment, Khoshaba directed the 2003 comedy “Akh Min Khimyani,” which he bills as the first Assyrian-language film ever produced in the U.S., and the 2004 drama “Cost of Happiness.”

He plans to follow the same self-distribution model for “Cousins” that he employed on his two prior pictures: premiering here, touring the picture to Assyrian communities in California, Arizona, Michigan, Europe and Australia, then releasing it on DVD.

To learn more about the past and current Strategic Entertainment projects click here.

City of San Jose Commends Assyrian Student

(ZNDA: San Jose)  On 17 May, the office of San Jose, California Councilmember Nancy Pyle issued a statement of commendation for Ms. Ashoorina Youabb, a San Jose resident, for her exemplary work in assisting a young family struggling to leave gang life.

Ashoorina Youabb is a student from California State University at Hayward interning with the Victim Witness Assistance Center, to help crime victims through public policy.

From the streets to the classroom, Officer Barreto continues to demonstrate a passionate desire to educate persons on the hazards of gang life not only for the gang members themselves but also for their families as well as the professional people that work with juveniles and young adults involved in that lifestyle.

Ashoorina worked with Cesar Sanchez, or “Grifo”—the name by which the Violent Crime Enforcement Team members knew him, a “hardcore” Sureno gang member.  Working with another San Jose police officer, Joaquin Barreto, Mr. Sanchez was convinced to get out of the violent street gang that he had known for so many years, and was assisted with future career plans and referrals to get family assistance. Mr. Sanchez had spent nearly half of his life in a gang. Through her deep-caring sensitivity and warmth, Ashoorina developed a trusting relationship with his young family consisting of his young wife named Carmen Sanchez and their 2-year old daughter —Diane.

Ashoorina’s relationship with Cesar Sanchez ended on March 7, 2005, the day that he was fatally shot in front of his home in San Jose, yet she continues her work as a victim advocate with both exuberance and her belief in the restoration of the human spirit. Ashoorina now advocates in Cesar’s name, beginning with having ensured that his wife and child move to a safer home.

The official commendation notes that Ms. Youabb is an exemplary role model inspiring her colleagues and community to serve others and create a healthy environment in the city of San Jose where all children and families can thrive.

The following is a San Jose Mercury News article published on 17 April 2005 by Julia Prodis Sulek detailing the life of Mr. Sanchez and the assistance he received from Ms. Youabb and Officer Baretto.

Courtesy of San Jose Mercury News
17 April 2005
By Julia Prodis Sulek

Ashoorina Youabb got the call while she was driving. ``Pull over real quick,'' said her supervisor at the Victim Witness Assistance Center.

Cesar Sanchez was dead. Shot in the head, left in a puddle of blood on his front porch, held by his wife with their 2-year-old daughter at their side as he died.

For 10 seconds, Youabb couldn't speak.

This was the guy, just 22, who had renounced his own gang to be a husband, father and role model. Youabb was a college intern, just 24, helping him find a home away from the gangs that plagued his San Jose neighborhood near Willow Street and Highway 87. If only she had worked faster, she thought, maybe this wouldn't have happened. She cried and cried, then made the next call.

``I'm sorry, I have to tell you something.'' She explained to Joaquin Barreto, a San Jose police officer in the gang division, what happened.

``Are you serious?'' Barreto asked, his voice cracking. ``I can't believe it. Man, I can't believe it.''

Cesar Sanchez had been Barreto's success story -- a tattooed homeboy with a shaved head and a low-rider Buick Regal whom Barreto had mentored for five years and finally convinced to get out of the gang.

His death was the fourth of six gang-related killings in San Jose so far this year -- a number already surpassing the total from all of last year.  And even with all the efforts across the city confronting the gang problem, Barreto knew that solutions come one kid at a time.

Sanchez was just one. But unlike so many others who just talk about getting out of the gang, Sanchez actually had the courage to endure a ``jumping out'' ritual -- a severe beating by his old gang friends to earn his freedom and restart his life.

``I want a better life for me and my family,'' Sanchez told Barreto. ``I don't want to die in gang violence.''

Barreto made him a promise: ``I will work with you. I will help you.''

On the evening of March 7 -- less than three months after he was jumped out
-- Sanchez was gunned down in gang violence anyway. A 16-year-old from a rival gang who barely knew a thing about him was arrested.

Now, more than a month after his death, Sanchez's 20-year-old wife, Carmen, is trying to be strong for her daughter and to calm her three younger brothers who looked up to him like a father and are angry now. She's trying to remember the good things, trying not to hate.

And the two civil servants -- the committed gang unit cop who believed he had made a difference, and the idealistic intern working for free on her very first case -- are left searching for meaning in his death. At the same time, they can't help but contemplate the irony of the killing and the futility of their work.

``It's making it hard for me to say with a straight face, `Hey, I can help you,' '' Barreto said.

Youabb's supervisor, Margaret Petros, was worried about her new intern, too.
The California State University-Hayward student, who grew up in a close-knit family in San Jose's Almaden area, had so much promise. Would a tragedy like this turn her away from victims advocacy? Petros' concern was real: Her last protege had done just that.

Barreto wasn't one to be easily moved. He was 37 and cynical. He had already seen ``the worst of the worst'' in his life. As an Army soldier, he had witnessed the carnage of the Persian Gulf War. His sister died of breast cancer, his brother in a car crash. Now his mother was seriously ill.

Barreto hadn't married. People close to him die.

He met Cesar Sanchez five years ago when he was breaking up a gang fight near McKee Road in East San Jose. Aside from the Sharks hockey team logo tattooed across the back of his shaved head, the only things that distinguished Sanchez from the rest of the group in blue jerseys were the hearing aid he had worn since childhood and the speech impediment that went with it.

Sanchez was 17 at the time and had been in the Sureño gang since he was 12.
His homeboys called him ``Grifo,'' a nickname meaning ``Partier.''

Like Sanchez, who was being raised by his grandmother, most of the kids out there that night were dropouts from broken homes. Gangs filled a void. Life without them was a hard sell.

But there was something unusual about Cesar Sanchez that made Barreto think he could be reached. Unlike the others, he didn't run and he didn't lie.

``He had a real good manner of communication with police -- respectful and very honest,'' Barreto said. ``I kept it in my mind that this was someone who wouldn't follow this path if he had the same opportunities other kids have.''

Nonetheless, over the next few years, Sanchez racked up a string of gang-related arrests, from an assault that was never prosecuted to a narcotic influence charge that was dismissed after he went through a drug program.

Barreto often ran into him when responding to gang disturbances.

``Hey Grifo, what's up?'' Barreto would ask.

Sanchez was married now, he told Barreto two years ago, had a child. But the gang was still family.

``What are you doing wasting your life? When you go to prison, your homies don't support you,'' Barreto would tell him. ``It's time you got out.''

But Barreto knew the gang code: blood in, blood out. Like a fraternity hazing ritual, gangs ``jump in'' new members with a beating. When one wants out, the ``jumping out'' is far worse.

In all Barreto's years on the force, he didn't know a single person who had the guts to be jumped out. Most just moved away, faded out.

But Barreto saw something changing in Sanchez. Not on the outside. But the inside.


"Silent Auction"
Assyrian Folkloric Music Concert

June 4, 2005
7:00 PM

Los Gatos Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, CA 95032

Donation: $20 Contact Helda Khangaldy (408) 421-2492

He saw it one night last year when he pulled Sanchez over on Santa Clara Street downtown. The gold Regal was easy to spot. Sanchez was in front and three boys -- barely teens -- were in the back. Like Sanchez, they were decked out in their gang colors.

Not much surprised Barreto anymore. But that night, Cesar Sanchez did.

With his baggy pants slung low, Sanchez got out of the car and whispered this to Barreto: ``Can you pull these kids out of my car and put them in the police car and scare them? Talk to them. Tell them what you told me.''

At home, Sanchez started talking to his wife, Carmen, about Joaquin Barreto, a man he considered a ``father figure,'' who was encouraging him to leave the gang, maybe become a youth counselor.

It made Carmen nervous. Being a gang girlfriend and wife was all she knew.
She was 15, he was 17 when they met at the Gallo Colorado shopping center on McLaughlin Avenue. Police had just confiscated Sanchez's car because he had no driver's license. So he was on foot, ``kickin' it'' with his friends.

``He said he was happy they took it away or he couldn't have met me,''
Carmen said. He was romantic, and funny like that.

Two years ago, when she had their baby, Diane, they married. They would be together, Sanchez told his wife, until they were ``old and rusty.''

He moved in with Carmen's mother, uncle, cousin and her three younger brothers, who were 13, 12 and 10. They were about the same age as Sanchez was when he descended into gang life.

His grandmother did her best raising him on the East Side. But he slipped nonetheless, and chronicled it in a journal he kept called ``My School Years.'' In kindergarten, ``Three Little Pigs'' was his favorite story. In third grade, he liked history and science and playing Pop Warner football.

By eighth grade, he considered himself a ``low life trying to survive.''

Favorite class? ``Nothing at all.''

Greatest moment of the year? ``1996 Valentines Day, tha bomb. Riot.
Suspended 5 days.''

Sanchez didn't want his daughter or his wife's brothers following a similar path.

Last year, he moved the extended family out of the East Side to Willow Street in central San Jose.

At least the distance would put some separation between him and his Sureño homies. The Craftsman-style house with the white picket fence was only a few blocks from the affluent Willow Glen neighborhood. But it was also on the edge of the oldest San Jose stronghold of the Norteños -- the Sureños fiercest rivals.

Sanchez worked as a welder by day and took classes at night to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma. He started reading the Bible. Each night, he would light a candle and tell stories to his round-faced daughter about Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

He would gather Carmen's three brothers and their two friends to the living room or the brown vinyl couch on the front porch. He lectured them about the pitfalls of gangs. How once you get in, it's not easy to get out.

They looked out on Willow Street, a busy thoroughfare. With a liquor store just a few doors down, Norteños would walk by sometimes, slowly. There was an assumption on the streets that if you weren't a Norteño, you must be a Sureño. Once, the house was pelted with empty bottles.

``I used to want to be a Sureño. But he told me not to,'' said Carmen's 15-year-old brother, whom the Mercury News is not naming for his safety.

``He used to talk about it was stupid. That you could get killed by nothing.
You don't get nothing.''

Sanchez taught them one other thing: It doesn't matter what you look like on the outside. It's what's inside that counts.

It was his only bad advice.

In late December, Sanchez knew it was time. He was ready to be ``jumped out,'' and endure the beating that came with it.

Thirteen of his friends, some whom he had known for more than 10 years, met him at a park near McKee Road. They kicked him like a rag doll, hard, in his back and head. When it was over, Sanchez could barely walk. His head was pounding, ringing even.

``Rang my bells 4xs,'' Sanchez wrote on his calendar that day.

He called officer Barreto, who greeted him with his usual ``Hey, Grifo.''

``Don't call me Grifo,'' Sanchez said.

He had been jumped out. He was Cesar now.

Barreto, who is usually reserved about his work, was so proud about Sanchez leaving the gang that he told his colleagues. Few believed him. They'd heard it so many times.

``But no,'' Barreto said. ``He's really out.''

Barreto made good on his promise to help Sanchez and sent him down to the county's Victim Witness Assistance Center on North First Street. There, Sanchez could get financial help to relocate his family to a safer neighborhood. Ever since the jumping out, his house had become a target for late-night harassment and thievery -- odd knocks on the door at 3 a.m., bikes stolen from the yard.

His case was assigned to intern Ashoorina Youabb, an energetic political science major who had dreams of helping crime victims through public policy one day. She was drawn to volunteering at the agency by her aunt Margaret Petros, who had been a role model for Youabb as a child in their extended Assyrian family. Petros was now her supervisor.

But Youabb had never met a real crime victim before, much less someone who had spent nearly half his life in a gang.

Her experience in helping victims was mostly limited to taking in lost dogs.

Last year, when she found a baby bird that had fallen from its nest, she named it ``Jubee'' and fed it for a week on worms she bought at Wal-Mart.

When she met Cesar Sanchez and his wife and daughter in January -- just days after her internship started -- she didn't even notice Sanchez's tattoos at first. It was his hearing aid that drew her attention. Maybe that's what made him seem so sensitive, so vulnerable.

``I felt a connection between their family and me,'' she said. ``There was somebody I wanted to help so bad.''

With Petros at her side, Youabb interviewed the couple for two hours.

Sanchez didn't want to talk at first. But his wife explained how much he had changed since he left the gang.

``He started looking at the beautiful things,'' she told the women, taking walks in the park, telling her about the butterflies he saw there.

Finally, Sanchez opened up, telling them about the beating, showing them the scars on his back. Because of his injuries, Youabb told him, he could qualify for medical, unemployment and relocation benefits.

``I don't want to take advantage of the system,'' he told them. They assured him the money from their office didn't come from taxpayers, it came from criminals paying restitution.

Barreto called frequently, checking up on the progress of his case.

Over the next couple of months, Sanchez and his family met often with Youabb. Those meetings always ended in hugs. She gave the family her private cell phone number.

``People say you can't get too personal with your work, but I couldn't help it,'' Youabb said. ``It seemed like he was trying so hard to get out of this life. And it's so hard that this is the way his life ended.''

``He's got a gun!'' one of Carmen's brothers shouted as he looked out the window. ``He's got a gun!''

Maybe it was the gold low-rider parked in the driveway, or the Sharks tattoo
-- symbols of gang life Sanchez had yet to relinquish. Maybe it was just the way Sanchez told the teenager in the red jersey walking by with his friends that evening that no, he didn't have any cigarettes.

What police know for sure is that the house had been marked months ago as a Sureño house, and, they believe, these Norteños were simply looking for trouble. The shooter had a small black handgun, wrapped in a red bandanna.

Carmen heard five shots, saw the teens running away, and rushed outside.

Her husband lay on his back on the wooden porch. He had been shot in the arm and head. His Sharks tattoo was covered in blood. In the chaos, their daughter padded to her father's side.

He tried to tell his wife something, but he couldn't get the words out. He was choking on his own blood.

``Hold on,'' Carmen said. ``Don't leave us!''

All he could do was cry.

The oldest of Carmen's brothers ran back inside. He punched a hole in the wall so hard he broke his finger.

``They never knew he was jumped out,'' he said later. ``They just thought he was still in the gang.''

Don't retaliate, Carmen told her brothers. Leave it to the justice system.
Leave it to Jesus.

``I don't want them to get hate for what happened,'' she said. ``I just tell them, Cesar would want them to graduate and be something in their lives. Do that for him. Prove something to Cesar.''

She struggled to convince herself. Her own father had been killed in Mexico when she was a child. And now her daughter would grow up without a father, too. How could she explain that? Make her understand that her father was now with God?

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


Carmen fumbled with the words.

``Remember when Dad told you about Jesus?'' Carmen asked.

Diane pointed her little finger up to the sky.

``Yes,'' her mother said.

Her father had taught her about heaven.

When gang members die violently, most relatives tell police their loved ones had been changing their lives, trying to get out of the gang.

Carmen knew that. She also knew her husband was sincere. As if to prove it, she brought a slip of notebook paper to Youabb's office. It was a ``to do''
list her husband had written the day he died.

The printing was neat, slanted left. Instead of dots, he had drawn little circles over the ``i''s.

These were his plans for the next day -- he had written ``3/8/05'' on top -- a day he never lived to see.

1) wake up early!!

2) go to victim witness program.

3) take family out to eat.

4) look for job & call about appli.

5) talk to wife about family matters.

6) call or visite (sic) grandma.

It's a list Youabb cherishes.

``I can't stop crying over him,'' she said. ``God, I never thought a stranger could affect me in such a way.''

She didn't turn her back on victims advocacy as Petros had feared.

Instead, Youabb set out to help what was left of this family -- victims now in a new and horrible way. Carmen and little Diane needed her now.

In the past couple of weeks, Youabb helped get them into a safer place.
Carmen has asked her how to go about applying to junior colleges, about pursuing a career in criminal justice.

For Youabb, Sanchez's death killed neither her exuberance nor her innocence.

``I want to talk to a senator, ask them to regulate bullets -- make bullets cost a thousand dollars,'' she said. ``I just want to do something in his name. I don't know how to go about doing it, but I'm going to find out.''

It's more difficult for Barreto. He had worked so hard. Come so close. He had reached out, and this time someone reached back.

At the end of April, he had planned for Sanchez to take the stage with him at a child violence symposium. Barreto will take it alone, now.

Out on the streets, when Barreto talks to other gang kids about getting out, he keeps waiting for the dreaded response: ``Yeah, well, look what happened to the last guy you helped.''

But he made a promise to Carmen: ``His story will continue to be told.''

Barreto will tell it, in his gang prevention classes, at the symposium, on the streets: Gangs suck you in, spit you out and, one way or another, kill you. But also, perhaps more importantly, goodness leaves a legacy.

Barreto needs to tell it as much as others need to hear it. Because he's still a gang unit cop, reaching out. Looking for another glimmer of hope.  Searching for another Cesar.

AACC of Turlock Honors Nardine Mansoor

Mrs. Nardine Mansoor was honored last week as the 2005 Mother of the Year.

(ZNDA: Turlock) On Friday, 6 May, the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock announced Nardine Mansoor as their choice for the 2005 Mother of the Year award. This annual award was established to honor one of the club’s members for her outstanding achievements in her personal and professional life. This year’s recipient definitely exemplifies the characteristics worthy of this award.

Born and raised in Abadan, Iran, Mrs. Mansoor is the daughter of Kourosh and the late Penna Varda. After graduating high school she continued her education, becoming a credentialed elementary teacher in Iran. There, she taught and enriched the lives of many children for 17 years, teaching at many schools including Tehran’s private Assyrian School, Susan. Upon her arrival to the United States, she continued her education and has worked as a Bilingual Instructional Aide for the past 25 years.

Nardine has been married for forty-one years to Walter Mansoor and she has three daughters and six grandchildren.

She has been an active member of the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock since 1980 serving on many executive boards, committees and auxiliaries. She currently serves as the club’s Education Committee Chairperson. She has also been an active member of Turlock’s St. John’s Assyrian Presbyterian Church. Additionally, she is currently serving her third term as the Assyrian Secretary for the Assyrian American National Federation.

In addition to all these responsibilities, her passion for the Assyrian language currently moves her to teach weekly Assyrian classes at the club. Her quest for continuing her own education has not stopped as well. She is currently taking behavioral psychology classes at Modesto Junior College.

Mrs. Mansoor standing next to her daughters, Belona (L) of San Jose and Edessa of Modesto, and husband, Walter.  Mrs. Mansoor's oldest daughter, Arbella, is not shown here.


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Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor

No Comparison

Alan M Jacob

Modern Assyrian Language Guide
Volume I

Tobia Giwargis
(209) 667-6697

88 Pages
U.S. $15.00

(add $2 per book for shipping in the U.S.)

To Order Your Copy Contact:
Assyrian Club of Urhai
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I would like to comment on the article titled “ Jesus to Simon Peter “ if you love me tend my sheep”

This article is fatally flawed on many levels.

First, Peera suggests that Mar Dinkha should not only visit war-torn worlds, but live there because patriarchs of the past have. Peera specifically mentions Mar Benyamin. The problem of his suggestions are twofold: one- running, operating, and managing an entity with hundreds of churches and thousands of workers is hard enough to do from the suburbs of Chicago Illinois; but to think that it can not only be done, but be done efficiently under mortar fire, kidnappings, car-bombs, and the unstructured government that Iraq is currently operating in, is evidence that Peera is motivated not by “spiritual healing for the people” but slandering and tarnishing the reputation of a man untouched since conception.

Two-the comparison between Mar Benyamin and Mar Dinkha has no basis.

Mar Benyamin lived between 1887-1918, at a time when churches weren’t established in the America’s. Furthermore, Assyrians hadn’t even ventured west yet. In other words, Mar Benyamin had no choice-he HAD to live in the Middle East. Also, Mar Benyamin was tricked and assassinated by a Kurdish leader and Peera praises Mar Benyamin because he became a martyr. Is Peera suggesting that he would only respect a person if that person is martyred?

We are not al-Qaida. We do not promote or seek death for any of our Assyrians, much less a leader who has dedicated his entire life to religion.

By wishing for Mar Benyamin to still be alive, Peera, inadvertently strengthens the notion that a leader is more valuable alive than he is martyred.

Second, Peera compares Mar Dinkha to Mar Shimun, (a patriarch who was assassinated for attempting to dabble in politics) and in the same breath begs Mar Dinkha not only dabble in politics, but thrust himself into the political arena, and not during peacetime in the United States, but during war time in Iraq.

This suggestion violates two common sense rules 1-The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

And 2- Learning from others mistakes. Mar Dinkha refuses to enter politics because A) we, as a people, who cannot agree on anything. If Mar Dinkha is to “tend sheep”, how is he to do so when each of his sheep is running in a different direction? B) Because Mar Dinkha has the knowledge to learn from his predecessors mistakes. And C) Mar Dinkha is a religious leader, not a political one. He has dedicated his life to religion, and I believe that he would not hesitate to lay down his life for such. But to lay down his life for a bunch of people who cannot even agree on a proper name (Assyrian, chaldo-assyrian, neo-assyrian, Babylonian) would be a tremendous waste with no effect. A fourth reason exists why Mar Dinkha refuses to enter politics-because he would fail.

He would fail because people like Peera exist. Peera, a person, who in his article says Mar Dinkha should rise up, in essence, and bring together all the Assyrians, then IN THE SAME ARTICLE, draws a distinction between Assyrians and chaldeans. One can’t beg for unity and promote separation in the same breath.

Finally, Peera criticizes Mar Dinkha for going for a walk in the park and wearing a “ball cap”. Peera fails to realize that the bible tells us Christians to treat our bodies as temples of God and take care of them. If Peera is accusing Mar Dinkha of maintaining his temple, then Mar Dinkha is guilty. He is guilty of following the word of God.

But the biggest irony in the article is comparing Mar Dinkha with the Chaldeans. The chaldeans, who, if Peera studied ANY chaldean history, or bothered to read a paragraph of the brief history of chaldeans, he would learn that the chaldeans parted with the Assyrian church of the east and followed the roman catholic church, and do so to this day.

The same roman catholic church that fails to recognize that Assyrians were the first to worship God. The same Roman Catholic church that refused to include the book of St. Thomas when they put the bible together because that book refers to Assyrians as the first Christians, not the roman catholics.

The same roman catholic church that dedicate a whole city to their leader, hundreds of bodyguards, armor plated cars, bullet proof glass house, and a pope who use to swim daily. But our patriarch isn’t allowed to go for a walk around the block without an irritated Michigan man writing a blasphemous article about him.

Peera’s article should have never been allowed to be published.

Church is Not a Democracy

Vienna Jacob

I would like to take the time to let Zinda Magazine know how thoroughly disgusted I am in your organization. I am disgusted that a group of Assyrians have taken part in such a slanderous attack on our Patriarch His Holiness Mar Dinkha. I would like to remind you that even though this is the age of the internet, our Church is steeped in time and tradition. Even though people have the right to exercise their freedom of speech in the country I live in, that does not give them the right to tear down the character of our religious leader.

Over the centuries there have been enough attacks on our civilization and our way of life, we DO NOT need this from within.

It is obvious to me that you have fallen from the path of Christianity, and have forgotten that we, as a nation were the first to accept the Lord Jesus Christ ways of Life.

The article titled “Jesus to Simon Peter “if you love tend my sheep” is disgraceful and should have never been printed in your Magazine. You should be ashamed of the morals that you are teaching our youth with this publication. Keep in mind our church is not a democracy and should not be treated as such. It is something pure and holy like the man that Sargon Peera was referring to in his atrocity.

I see that you have already removed this article from your website; I am asking that you also issue an apology to our Patriarch His Holiness Mar Dinkha and to the Assyrian Community.

Zinda:  Please refer to Zinda Archives to view all past articles and issues.


Peera Reflects Opinion of the Silent Majority

Voltaire E Warda

I fully agree with Mr. Sargon Peera's article about Mar Dinkha. In fact what is said about Mar Dinkha in private conversation when Assyrians discuss these matters, coincide fully with what Mr. Peera's wrote about Mar Dinkha.

I don't want to elaborate on this issue but what Mr. Peera wrote is the voice of the silent majority of the Assyrians' opinion about our Patriarch.

I like to see our Patriarch's actions similar to the late Pope John Paul or Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir of Lebanon, where they stood always with their people during need and crisis.

The Value of Respect

Joseph Haweil

Following the recent barrage of attacks against our beloved Mar Dinkha it is extremely difficult to stay out of this argument. It seems that Mr. Peter Michel and Mr. Sargon Peera are jumping over each other with harsh comments.

Firstly the question that must be posed is whether the above two gentlemen are men of their word. Both gentlemen insinuate that Mar Dinkha should return to the war ravaged Iraq. What these gentlemen should first do is ask themselves if they are willing to return to Iraq right now in the state that it is in. Surly if they are not willing to return themselves then they have no right to ask others to return. If they are not, they are simply hypocrites and are contradicting themselves. (Ah, how embarrassing we all say...)

Secondly, isn’t it a tad harsh to use terms like "betrayers of Christ" and "not worthy to be called leaders"? It seems that Sargon Peera and Peter Michel are not able to fathom the situation. Think about it gentlemen; if you left your homeland for such a long time (as Mar Dinkha has) wouldn’t it be extremely difficult to leave your adapted home and return? And, what has Mar Dinkha done to "betray Christ". Is it that he like the half a million other Assyrians around the world didn’t want political and religious extremism threatening his life. And the gentlemen, particularly Peter Michel have no right to criticize the bishops around the world because that is their positing; they don’t have to return to war-torn Iraq! Oh and people criticize Mar Dinkha for visiting his flock in Iran and London … well Mar Delly is also on a European/American trip right now. Any criticism there? Well no there couldn’t be? (In case you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic.)

Lastly Peter Michel so disgracefully goes rampant with his accusations and words of hate. Mr. Michel is it un-Godley to have comfort? Certainly you are nice and comfortable in California. What is wrong with comfort? Shouldn’t we all live in peace without fear, famine and pestilence? Oh, and Mr. Michel; “news flash” ... how can bishops and the Patriarch be busy deciding what they will wear? They wear the same thing everyday; their religious robes! It is not like they go shopping!

This is a debate of simplicity. There exist narrow minded, insubordinate people (like Peter Michel and Sargon Peera) who think they have the solutions to the world’s and the Church’s problems. And I am not stating that I am correct; all that I am stating is facts that are simple and relevant. All I can say is that I am only 16 years old and I have learnt the value of respect … perhaps these two men should learn it too. Respect, Respect, Respect!

Mar Aprem Metropolitan

Ann-Margaret Yonan

Thank you for publishing Mar Aprim's article on the Assyrian Church of the East, the Assyrian apostolic missions and our beloved Assyrian language. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and learned so much about the Assyrian apostolic movements around the world.

Mar Aprim is an extremely fascinating individual, not only as a Metropolitan, a scholar, and an author, but as a humorist. I had the privilege of interviewing him on Assyria Sat while he was in California en route to Chicago for the last Synodical meeting. He spoke in-depth about the Church of the East in India, the university they have, which is the only school in the world offering a PHD program in Assyrian language, (besides the one in England) and the printing press they own, which publishes books on Assyrian Christianity in the Assyrian, Hindi, and English languages. He gave a brief history lesson on the origins of the Church of the East in India, the apostolic missions, and the ancient Assyrian Christian texts . Mar Aprim himself has authored and published over sixty books on these topics. What many people do not know about Mar Aprim is that he has even written a book of jokes. This reflects his diversity, intellect, and completeness as a person and a scholar.

I was greatly impressed by the depth of Mar Aprim's philosophical and theological knowledge and his great love and devotion to the church. The advanced achievements of the Christian Indians of the Church of the East, were equally overwhelming. Not only have they preserved and facilitated the traditions of the original Assyrian Church of the East in India, but have actively sought to nurture and expand it's influence in an otherwise nonconducive and unaccepting environment. They have worked and fought hard to preserve the Assyrian language, the Assyrian church ceremonial traditions, and the Assyrian ecclesiastical essence, catagorizing, archiving, publishing, and validating this nation's contributions to Christian philosophy and world knowledge. While some of the sons and daughters of Assyria have been shamefully engaged in meaningless and trivial acts for decades now, trying to disengage from their sacred roots and identity to seek salvation from other sources, or busy debating our name, or sending our priests and bishops to the Vatican for training, denying our heritage, and delivering confusing and ludicrous lectures and speeches from the pulpit, our brothers and sisters in India were busy constructing institutional spaces by which Assyrian language, history, and identity can function..

The Assyrian nation needs to look no further than the Christian Indians of the Church of the East to begin rebuilding it's fractured foundation and gather it's scattered fragments. God knew there will be a time when our nation will face a dark and uncertain future, that's why he planted part of the Assyrian roots in a far away place like India, where death and destruction could not stamp them out. We need to reach out to the Indian Church of the East community and join all the pieces of the Assyrian puzzle.

Whose Alphabet is it Anyway?

David Youkhana

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your beautiful job you are doing and to your new office in Washington D.C. I do believe that the Assyrian Nation is one nation, there is no Chaldo. I don't understand why Zinda Magazine is promoting this idea.  Those groups who are calling themselves Chaldeans are in our homeland promoting the Chaldo idea, while some of our Assyrian people in Iraq and around the world are promoting Assyrian Chaldo.  We are trying to get them close to us while they are trying to establish for themselves a new identity. Is this fair? How can those people establish a new identity while the alphabets that they are using are Assyrian alphabets and the language they are using is Assyrian..?   Why don't you ask them what's their alphabet and their language? I personally don't trust them and I hope that Zinda Magazine and Zowaa will wake up and realize the destruction of our nation.

The Elusive Assyria Rainbow

Filham Y. Isaac


Sunday, June 26
2:00 - 7:00 pm
at the
Assyrian American Association of Southern California
5901 Cahuenga Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 506-7577

Free to Public

Rare classic books, Bibles, Maps, Syriac books, Contemporary

History books and documents will be on exhibit.

Authors and Book vendors are welcome to participate. Free space will be provided.

Applications for upcoming AAASC's Paul Alex Youhanan Scholarships will be available.

We are grateful for all the calls by way of posted articles on various Forums and the Zinda Magazine to the “UNITY” of our peoples. Each and every one of these calls were excellent but the one that is near and dear to my heart is the article that came from Mr. Alfred Alkhas in the Zinda Magazine issue of Wednesday May 4/2005 titled “The New Horizons of Assyria”.

Like so many other brother and sisters, I have written a few snippets here and there about this subject. Such calls, at least in my case, have come from a state of sheer frustration. For a short while it provides a relief and a feel-good sense thinking someone out there will hear you. After some time you realize that no one is truly listening. Honesty is important and I do admit that I am not naïve to think that the unity issues are simple. Quite the contrary, they are far too complex for anyone of us to resolve in a short time. However, to realistically give this unity a good start and an honest chance to succeed, a few of our major movers and shakers need to bring them selves to listen to the masses. I am also being honest in saying that it is easy to hatch a plan but to kick it into the implementation stage we would all have to be part of the team. No national idea can be successful without the help and active participation of our people. The onus is on all of us to try it just once by supporting such initiative with our finances and maintaining a focus on the positive side. We need to experience success only then, can we see the difference. If this was and ideal world and if Iraq would manage to go through 10 years of democracy then I firmly believe the Iraqis would never want to go back to anything else.

So how do we involve the masses?

We cannot assume that a single article will be seen and read by all of our people.

The use of our communication mediums is limited. The reality is that the majority of our people do have access to print and electronic mediums yet most of them get daily updates from the conversation carried with their friends and families. They are very much aware of this nation’s affairs and feel dejected about the current stalemate to the point that they no longer care. How can we blame them? Nothing new has been tried. It is time for a good change.

Just assume that a single unified agenda is agreed upon, I am sure the news would spread like a brush fire. Furthermore, there would be renewal of interest amongst our silent majority.

The opposite is what we have now. For the last few months I have actively sought answers from my own community. The feedback is alarming and urgent. The one issue that has caused a bone deep wound is the name issue. Our people have pitched their tents along the muddy banks of this turbulent river and anchoring its spikes in their party lines. Right or wrong, does not hide the fact that we have way too many tents. We are not welcome at each other’s fire camps. This tends to demoralize the people that want one big happy camp leaving them disillusioned and very much wanting to have their unity calls heard and their written words read.

Add to this the lack of accountability for any one group. It is a competition that no one will win the final prize.

The daily aberration of constant arguments within our ranks is the worst curse. As we stand now, our ship continuous to sail without a compass. The never ending ranting and bickering erodes our credence and exposes, to those that do not want to see us united the so many cracks from where they can slip through and prevent our healing.

We are on the road, which is leading to the precipice of self-destruction. The euphoria of the January/2005 pre-election has but totally evaporated and all that remains is the feeling that it must have been a fading dream from the past. What is left is the numbness of the mind and a slow creeping paralysis in our movements. No one should accept this status. The rain must stop. We yearn for a rainbow to bridge the Assyrian horizon. If not a full one then a hint of some color.

We the people have not seen any actions to address what is causing us the rough rides. One would think we would go back to revisit the big bumps on the road and to map out a new and smoother path towards the future.

Do any of our organizations read our pleas? I have found no clues in their announcement, their web sites and more importantly their actions.

At the moment, all this does not seem to make a difference to any one organization. The lack of action indicates that our words are falling on deaf ears and therefore we are right in assuming that our organizations are not listening and they do not give three hoots about our dreams and aspirations. It would be safe to conclude that the demands of the majority are being ignored, as we have not seen any signs that would positively impact on our future.

So we ask, will we be shunned once more and our pleas be tossed by the way side? Who will finally champion them? Will it be the old or will it be a new breed of Assyrians that will take control of the rudder of this ancient and resilient ship?

I challenge all our current parties and organization to give us an answer on for all to read.

Any takers?

The Way Forward

With the announcements of the upcoming meetings and conferences our nation will once again raise its hopes and prayers for yet another chance to mend our ways and pull together. It is hoped that the message of the majority is clear to those attending. My own wish is for once, just once for a whole year, I want to see us unified solidly behind one agenda, which represent the top and immediate three common items. The other wish is for all of us to equally be firm in our resolve in supporting such initiative with our financial help and active participation when called upon. Our actions will send specifically a clear message to the rest of the ethnic groups in Iraq and generally to the rest of world that we are serious and willing to vigorously defend our long lost rights.

We belong together.

Assyrian Students Score High in County Pentathlon

Susan Nisan

Approximately 200 seventh and eighth graders took part last Saturday in the first ever Stanislaus County Academic Pentathlon. Participants spent the day competing in tests, speeches and essays. The event was sponsored by the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County

The results included Assyrian students Evin Nisan in 7th grade, Samara Alton and Danita Baghdasarin in 8th grade.

Danita was the highest point winner for Keyes Charter School in 8th grade and won a gold medal for math, meaning that she is the top math student in the county in her division. Danita and Samara and their teammates helped the Keyes Charter team place fourth overall in the county.

Evin helped his teammates place third overall in the county for 7th grade and brought home his own gold medal in math and bronze medal in history.

This is even more remarkable in that these students attend school only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They study at home on the other days or at the Assyrian Club of Urhai with Raabi Yosip Bet-Yosip, their Assyrian teacher. They are fine students in both languages.

Congratulations to these young people!

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Surfer's Corner
Community Events


The Seminary of the Church of the East in India

Mar Aprem Metropolitan
Assyrian Church of the East

The Seminary of the Church of the East in Mulankunnathukavu, about 10 kilometers from Trichur, was built in 1956 in the 52 acre cashew estate donated by Mr. O.T. Inasu who was honoured by the title Athleta on the day of the inauguration of this Seminary. Malpan Deacon Kaku Lazar (later priest in Baghdad and Archdeacon in USA) was already in Trichur since 1955 along with a student from Lebanon Yokhania David. It was meant to be an international Seminary. In 1968 Awiqam Pithyon was a student in this Seminary (now Archdeacon in Chicago).

Both Dr. Mar Poulose Episcopa and Dr.Mar Aprem Metropolitan were first students and later Rectors in this Seminary. Fr.P.K.Varghese B.A.B.D, Fr.P. K.Raphael and Fr.O.A.Jacob B.A., G.Th. were also Rectors of this Seminary. Batches of students had their early years of theological training and Aramaic language in this Seminary.
It is not easy to make a B.D. degree granting Seminary with approval from the famous Theological University of Serampore where most of the Orthodox, Mar Thoma and Protestant Theological Seminaries are affiliated.

It will cost millions of rupees to provide larger libraries and to appoint theological Professors with Doctorate degrees in order to get recognition. It is not possible for a small Church like ours to have such facilities. But if our clergy studying in different theological seminaries in India complete their education we may be able to have a teaching staff of our own to get academic recognition.

Still we have facilities to conduct an international one year Diploma course in the Church of the East. This year being the Golden Jubilee year of the Seminary we would like to offer this one year Diploma course for our clergy and sisters in India and abroad. It is situated in an ideal place. We have many old Manuscripts in Aramaic (lishana Atiqa). Students will be given courses in our liturgy, Thakhsa, canon law and Church History.

If international students from our Church in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Australia, USA, Canada, Sweden, England, Germany etc would like to study for this Golden Jubilee One year Diploma course beginning with August 2005, please let us know. We will do our best to get a student visa to study in India for one year. Please send your enquiries to Dr. Mar Aprem Metropolitan, Metropolitan Palace, Trichur 680001, Kerala, India or send e- Mail.

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Editor's Pick


My Stand

Fred Aprim

Few voices have been, in private and public, asking me to reconsider my stand from the title ChaldoAssyrian that I have supported politically for the past 18 months.

Throughout the decades, Assyrians have given many Assyrian groups and their actions the opportunity to mature. The process has produced many declarations and press releases but anemic results on the ground.

The question is: Considering the grave situation of the Syriac-speaking Christians in Iraq, why not give the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) and the ChaldoAssyrian unifying title a chance? I personally will review my stand when the plan under the compromised political title completes its full course. We must be patience and only reject the compromised title when we see that the writing of the Iraqi constitution was not to our benefit as a whole and when we see that the next December 2005 Iraqi elections (after having learned from the previous mistakes and got better organized) failed us. The January 2005 elections in Iraq was a learning stage since we could consider it as our first true elections after all. If there existed couple of previous claimed democratic elections in Iraq since the creation of Iraqi state in 1921, circumstances and, or, conditions did not allow the Assyrians to participate in such elections freely and independently. Some might argue that the ChaldoAssyrian ticket failed us in January 2005. Fact is that despite the poor participation of Assyrians in the voting process, the injustice done to Assyrians regarding the presence of voting polls, and the illegal blocking of other Assyrians from voting in north of Iraq, the ChaldoAssyrian slate was still the only slate to gain noticeable votes.

Some might argue but waiting until the Iraqi constitution is written and next elections completed might be too late for our people. However, others believe that the Assyrian national movement will survive despite what is going to happen by the end of the December 2005 Iraqi planned elections. If the Assyrian national movement survived World War I and the Simele massacre, we will survive any non-favorite consequences if ChaldoAssyrian unifying attempt failed to reunite our people under one name. The Assyrians' political compromise with their Chaldean and Suryani siblings is not for numbers and seats only, as few claim, although it is one of the reasons. This compromise is a national, emotional, moral, and ethical obligation to end the cancerous separation that is demoralizing and devastating this one people and undermining the potential power they could represent collectively.

Few groups that support the "Assyrian only" name and few other individuals on the Internet have been calling for the establishment of the Assyrian parliament and Assyrian united leadership. They are organizing political rallies for such purpose. Unfortunately, they continue to attack the ADM and the title ChaldoAssyrian in the process. The suggested Assyrian parliament or the election of a united leadership could not materialize before the December 2005 Iraqi elections. This I say because it is a complex matter since Assyrians are dispersed in four continents and in at least twenty countries. Furthermore, Assyrians, in general, are still not politically matured or responsible enough to make that process a success. The Iraqi elections proved it and this is yet more complicated. Therefore, it is safe to state that in the short run we could not benefit form putting our energies into the Assyrian parliament at this crucial time; however, we could initiate the process for the long run. Therefore, we, as responsible Nestorians, Chaldeans, and Jacobites must support the only movement that succeeded to win a seat for us in Iraqi parliament and could potentially win much more; a movement that is for our unity. We must learn that patience and awareness are precious virtues; therefore, we must wait until this unity attempt plays out all its cards.

The Iraqi National Assembly (parliament) formed a committee of 55 members to write the proposed Iraqi constitution, which will be voted upon later in parliament. Mr. Yonadam Kanna, the Secretary General of the ADM, is part of that committee besides Mr. Noori Potrus Atto, a Christian counted on the Kurdistani United Slate. Mr. Kanna and the ADM are undertaking yet another great responsibility. If something went bad, as few are predicting prematurely, it will have devastating consequences on Mr. Kanna and the ADM. The ADM is representing the ChaldoAssyrian Christians in the Iraqi parliament for now. However, in a democratic environment, fair elections will decide the future of any group or representative. There will always be future elections. Therefore, the ADM could not gamble with Assyrians' rights as few claim while Assyrians worldwide are watching. The ADM will not commit a political suicide.

I am not going to stand against the principles of the Assyrian parliament or united leadership because that is a long-term dream for every Assyrian. However, we must keep in mind that it is something that needs a long preparation, will take a long time to accomplish, and still the majority of our people from the Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Orthodox and Catholic Churches will not support anything that deals with Assyrian only projects. History has taught us that whenever a specific group calls for a conference, others reject it. It is a decease called ego that most of our self-appointed leaders share it. Therefore, it is very important that an independent international group of scholars, historians, politicians, or notables call for such national conference. This independent group must invite equal number of members from the various Syriac-speaking Christian denominations. These members should represent all political groups, historians, scholars, linguists, and notables. Let these people take on the name issue and once for all make a decision about it and select a preparatory committee to put the foundation for the united parliament and leadership for the Syriac-speaking Christians of the world.

I am supporting this political compromise title ChaldoAssyrian because if all failed, I rather see future generations say that Fred Aprim made a personal political mistake because he supported unity. I will live with any negative consequences due to such stand and I will take the blame for supporting unity every day. However, I could not live the consequences of promoting division under any conditions.

I do not gamble, but if I did, I rather gamble on unity than division.

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Assyrians at Their Best

Vanessa Denha

Scott Lorenz
Westwind Communications

Author Vanessa Denha

What is the moment you had become a woman? Author Vanessa Denha asked that question to more than 50 women from around the globe and wove their stories into first-person diary-style vignettes. Such notables as Congresswoman Candice Miller and nationally syndicated radio personality, Dr. Laura Schlessinger are featured in her new book, I Knew I Was A Woman When… Defining Female Moments: What’s Yours? (ISBN: 1413707084 $19.95 181 pages, available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or www.vanessadenha.com).

Vanessa Denha is an award-winning journalist, author and a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit. Denha has an eclectic personal and professional background — she is a woman who wears many hats. She spent eight years wearing the broadcasters cap as a reporter and talk show host on WJR 760 AM. She currently hosts and serves as producer of a half-hour weekly community show It’s Your Planet on 96.3, WDVD and 93.1 WDRQ in Detroit. She sported a writer’s beret for 9 years as a columnist (Between You and Me) for Detroit-based Women’s HealthStyle Magazine. She is co-founder and is the editor of Detroit based magazine The Chaldean News, which debuted in 2004. As a professional speaker, Denha often dresses in her conversational hat when speaking to various groups as she facilitates the “SitChat” series discussions. Her journalist career dates back to 1993 when she created, hosted and produced Community Focus, a weekly one-hour show on a Detroit Cable. Denha is married and is the fifth daughter of seven girls and lives in Michigan, within 20 minutes of each sister.

As a professional speaker, Denha has spoken to thousands of people at various venues including, church groups, women organizations, schools, support groups and book clubs about her book, women’s issues, women’s careers and being a role model.

Denha has been featured in several publications and interviewed by various media outlets including The Associated Press, Baltimore Sun Times, and Washington Post, National Public Radio, FOX News, ABC Evening News, WJR, WWJ, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and NBC affiliate WDIV.

According to Denha, the role models we had as little girls affect how we answer the question: what is the moment you become a woman? “My images of what a woman was or should be had an impact on my revelation,” said Denha. “I was influenced by my mother, father, six sisters, aunts, grandmother and teachers. All these women in my life helped me define who I am today. My images of what a woman was or should be are much different from the views other women had as little girls. We all need to look to our childhoods to help us define the moment we had become a woman.”

Imagine a group of women from widely varying backgrounds and professions sitting around a coffee table talking about life. Each, in turn, shares her story about what it means to be a woman…and the instant she first felt like one. For some women, this moment may have been a revelation while for others becoming a woman wasn’t something they thought about. A girl’s journey into womanhood may have been influenced by the image she had, as a child, of what a woman was or should be and how she defines being a woman today.

This book asks readers to reflect upon and identify their own defining moment and a special final chapter outlines exactly how readers can set up and facilitate their own “SitChat,” much like a book club or a support group. In the book Vanessa also includes quotes and facts about women in history.

Excerpts from I Knew I Was A Woman When…

“…I’ve turned 18 years old. I can vote. I graduated from college; I am older than 21 and I am of the legal age to drink. I have fallen in love. I have bought my own car. I am an adult, right. Not necessarily. I don’t feel like one yet.

I know that even at the age of 25, I still didn’t feel like a woman, yet all the signs point to the fact that I am a woman. I’ve gone through puberty, outgrown my training bra, I’ve experienced love and loss. Physically I look like a woman and society would depict me as one by the mere fact I have reached the age that is consider a legal adult, but for some reason, I don’t believe I am truly an adult.

And this haunted me. There I was in my mid twenties, a journalist and unhappy because I was confused. I felt like this pick-tailed girl sitting on daddy’s lap, although I started to mature at 12 and had a Dolly Parton figure before I turned 20.

I just kept wondering when did I become a woman and if I was even one yet. I thought there should be some defining moment and I would know. But, I had no idea. I set out on a quest to find out how different people define womanhood, not just being an adult but being a woman in today’s society...”

I Knew I Was A Woman When… I became a mother. The day my daughter was born was the most significant day in my life and was the day that my womanhood was realized. For me, becoming a Mother was a highly personal and intimate experience that continues to this day. For that reason it can't be explained. — Candice Miller, Congresswoman from Michigan

I Knew I Was A Woman When…I got pregnant with my son.    The moment I felt most like a woman was the moment I was pregnant with my son, Deryk. It was truly the most exciting moment of my life. I was in maternity clothes minutes later!! I was so thrilled and grateful, because I had come way too close to missing out on this life-changing moment, having bought into the feminist propaganda as a Sixties college student and had my tubes tied, lest family interfere with my career goals! A PBS Nova program on the miracle of conception, pregnancy and birth totally turned me around. And I thank G-d for that every day of my life. — Dr. Laura Schlessinger

I Knew I Was A Woman When… I realized for the first time I was not a victim; I was a survivor.
It was October 1991. I had suffered abuse as a child from my stepfather. I carried that load for so many years, thinking it was my fault. I always felt the world was against me and that I was being attacked. It wasn’t until I was 45-years-old when I realized it wasn’t my fault. I decided to get help. I went through some intensive therapy. I found out that a lot of girls who were abused thought it was their fault. It was then I became a woman. — Jacqueline Shellman

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

Fred Aprim (California)
Dr. Matay Arsan (Holland)
Jacklin Bejan (California)
David Chibo (Australia)
Youkie Khaninia (Arizona)
Wilbert Odisho (California)
Ash Pirayou (California)

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

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