26 Shvadt, 6755
Volume XII

Issue 1

15 February 2006

Tel  202-349-1429 | Fax 1-415-358-4778 | zcrew@zindamagazine.com
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"Assyrian Homeland" by Sharokin Bet-Gevargiz


Zinda SayZinda Says
  Assyrians in Sweden Advance Agenda of Assyria Afram Baryakoub
  A Breakthrough For Seyfo Research  
  Tur-Abdin Assyrians/Syriacs Subject of Cartoon Riots
AAS-NZ Funding For Internet Centre in Nuhadra
ADO Statement on the Mohammad Cartoons
  Kerimo Demands UN Supervised Zone for Iraqi Christians
Moscow Assyrians Demand Protection for Iraqi Assyrians
Yonadam Kanna Speaks at AAS Fundraiser in Modesto
Kanna's Visit Marred by Bomb Threat in Turlock
ADO Pays Homage to One of Its Greatest
LIC Statement on Beirut Riot of 5 February
Assyrians in Australia Believed to Harbor Fugitive
Anatolie Festival Delights Assyrian Music Lovers in Holland
Zinda Magazine is published every Wednesday & Saturday. To register for your free Zinda notifications enter your email address in the field above and click 'Sign Up'.
  Zinda Reports are One-Sided
Can We Overcome Our Differences
Remembering A Great Leader
ANA-SC Condemnation of the Church Bombings in Iraq
Assyrian Society of UK Comments on Dadesho's Remarks
Yonadam Kanna in Chicago
AAASJ Responds to Zinda Report on Yadgar Booksigning

Click to Learn More

  Form Follows Function: A Design of An Assyrian Identity
New Issue of Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies
  Who is the West Listening To?
“Assyrian Woman” in the Days of Mourning
Christianity Faces its Own Fight in Iraq
We are the Middle Eastern Americans
Nuri Kino
Sona Meloyan
Deborah Horan
Pierre A. Maroun
  Dr Fuat Celebioglu : In the Footsteps of a Role Model Dr. Ninos S Oussi

Zinda Says
An Editorial by Wilfred Bet-Alkhas


Assyrians in Sweden Advance Agenda of Assyria

Afram Baryakoub

In a time when Assyrians feel increasingly forgotten by the international community, Sweden is a country where such sentiments are replaced by hope. The tireless efforts of the Assyrian elite in Sweden in different lobbying activities are giving results in the form of political acknowledgements from the Swedish politicians. The word “Seyfo” and what it stands for is today common knowledge among the Swedish political elite and a growing number of ordinary Swedes.

Assyrians are to be found in all major political parties, from ministerial level down to the community levels. They include Ibrahim Baylan (Minister of Schooling), Yilmaz Kerimo (a member of the Swedish Parliament), Gabriel Boyzel (Secretary of Commune of the city of Södertälje) and many others in different political parties and offices. The ties between the Swedish politicians and Assyrians are increasing in depth and strength. They are also constantly extending to new politicians and groups of the Swedish society. This is of course not a case of chance but is a testimony to the highly conscious work of organizations such as the Assyrian Federation of Sweden and the Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac Association (ACSA).

Examples of the different lobbying activities include invitations of the leaders of Swedish parties to the Assyrian churches during Sunday Mass, followed by discussions in the church hall. Currently, different members of the Parliament are invited to the Assyrian cultural club of Södertälje where they have discussions with Assyrians. once a week. Due to the upcoming general elections in Sweden the magazine of Hujådå is also interviewing the leaders of major parties.

Sweden's third largest party (Folkpartiet), a liberal party announced recently on its own initiative, a seminar to be held in the city of Södertälje. As can be seen in the poster attached to this text the seminar will focus on the issue of Seyfo and the general condition of the Assyrians in the Middle East.

The fact that it was the Folkpartiet which took the initiative shows that Assyrians are more actively targeted by parties in the run up to the elections. Of course as Assyrians we are not late to use this in order to further our positions and make greater demands.

It is the wish of the Assyrian community of Sweden that other Assyrian communities in other countries more actively seek the support of their countries' politicians and create ties with them in order to improve the future of Assyria.

Mr. Afram Baryakoub's name is familiar to the readers of Zinda Magazine.  He produces our regular news reports from Sweden, bringing us a concise yet complete view of the developments in Europe.  Don't miss Mr. Baryakoub's fascinating report on Prof. David Gaunt's research on the Ottoman Archives and the discovery of the document related to the murder of Hormuz, the brother of Mar Benyamin Shimmun in the News Digest section.  Afram is another reason why thousands of Assyrians (Syriacs and Chaldeans) turn to Zinda Magazine for their news and information.

The Lighthouse
Feature Article


A Breakthrough For Sayfo Research

Afram Baryakoub, reporting for Zinda Magazine from Sweden

(ZNDA; Sweden) In the past few years David Gaunt, professor of history at the University of Södertörn in Stockholm, Sweden, has been increasingly involved in academic research concerning the Assyrian genocide (Sayfo).  His research has led him to a number of confrontations with the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.  Turkish government was unwilling to provide access to the historical documents concerning the Sayfo Genocide of 1915 until now.

Prof. David Gaunt, searching the Ottoman Archives, sheds light on the murder of Hormuz, brother of Mar Benyamin Shimmun.

Professor Gaunt has on several occasions expressed deep dissatisfaction over Turkeys treatment of scholars seeking access to these historical documents.

But things took a new turn when Mr Gaunt was tipped to read an article in the Turkish newspaper “Sabah”. In the article, the Turkish minister of human rights, Mr Mehmet Elkatmis, welcomed David Gaunt to come and conduct research on any available documents. “We will provide professor Gaunt everything he wants from us” said the Turkish minister and continued “we will even give him his own room, telephone and assistant”.

Prof. Gaunt did not waste any time. He made contact with a group of Swedish parliamentarians who are specialised in monitoring Turkey’s compliance with the European Union’s legislation concerning human rights. After receiving the full support of the parliamentary group he headed for Turkey for five days, between February 6 and 10 to try to confirm the promises made by the Turkish minister.

Upon his arrival to Istanbul Gaunt found out very soon that the promises of the Minister were mostly empty words. The list of eleven thousand documents he had prepared to consult was rejected by the staff working with the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul. He did not, however, return empty handed. According to the regulations established around the use of the Ottoman Archives he was allowed to consult 25 documents per day. This made it possible for Prof. Guant to return to Sweden with 79 pages of documents.

Turkish Minister of human rights, Mr Mehmet Elkatmis

Among those 79 documents is the document which contains Taalat Pasha’s order to the Vali in Mosul to arrest Hourmoz, the brother of Mar Shemoun. Hourmoz was taken as hostage and an ultimatum was given to the Assyrians to either stop resistance or the brother of the Patriarch of the Church of the East, Mar Benyamin Shimmun, Hourmuz, would be executed. “This has only been known to us by the writings of Lady Surma, the sister of Mar Shimmun, but now we know that what she wrote did indeed occur”, says David Gaunt.  When the Assyrian patriarch refuses to agree to the conditions set by the Ottomans, his brother was immediately executed in Istanbul.

He continued:  "“We can also see that many high ranking Turkish officials in the regional administrations, so called “Qayemaqams” did in fact reject the plans to kill the Christians.  In turn they were themselves killed on the orders of leaders like Talat Pasha in order to clear the way for the coming genocide”.

“The Qayemaqam of Midyat was in fact cleared out of the way long before the massacres began in Midyat, because he had promised the Assyrians in that area that he wouldn’t let anyone massacre them”, notes Prof. Guant.

Prof. Gaunt has also found proof that the Ottoman government actually freed prisoners, armed them and gave them orders to kill the Christians. Many witnesses have been speaking of the unbelievable horrors that those gangs spread across the land, but Prof Gaunt remained skeptical.  “I mean which government would actually let out its worst prisoners to carry out its policies? But now I have the document that contains the actual order to free the prisoners and arm them”, says Prof. Guant.

Turkish documents are divided into two groupings, Number 1 and Number 2.    Group 1 or Section 1 e contains the documents that the central government sent out to the regional administrations. These documents are few, short and do not contain much information. The 79 documents that Gaunt was allowed to photocopy belong to this section.

The second group or section contains all documents that went from the regional administrations to the central government. According to Prof. Gaunt they are much more interesting because they are numerous, extensive, and very informative. Section 2 documents are yet not accessible to historians because they have not been catalogued and numbered.

“They have promised me that some of the uncatalogued documents will be open for me in one or two months. I have appointed a person in Istanbul who will send them to me as the archives hands them out”.

Prof. Gaunt emphasizes that if documents begin to arrive from Istanbul many scholars, Armenian and Assyrian, will be able to cooperate and work more closely on similar investigations.

Prof. Gaunt is more optimistic than ever. He regards the outcome of his visit as an important victory and underlines that “the fact that they did not let me come back totally empty handed shows that the Turks are increasingly aware of the political pressure from EU, and the scholars have to do our part in putting pressure on the Turks and force them to deliver on their promises”.

David Gaunt will soon report on the outcome of his visit to the Swedish parliamentary group.  He has already co-authored a book on Seyfo with his Assyrian colleague, Jan Beth Saowe, to be published in English . The book will be released in May of this year.   Zinda magazine will be presently the book prior to the release date with complete order information.

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Tur-Abdin Assyrians/Syriacs Subject of Cartoon Riots

Courtesy of the EasternStar News Agency
12 February 2006
By Dikran Ego


(ZNDA: Stockholm)  The reaction and mass demonstrations against the Mohammed Caricatures continued, even spilling into areas such as Tur-Abdin in south-eastern Turkey.

All around the Muslim world people are demonstrating, even burning down and attacking Danish and other European embassies. The first victims were the Assyrians/Syriacs of Iraq. Six churches belonging to this group were attacked and three Christian Assyrians/Syriacs were killed. The massive pressure and the persecutions have extremely frightened the Christians who live among Muslims.

The first European victim was an Italian priest, who attended a church in the city of Trabzon in Turkey. The murder was committed far from the huge demonstrations in the Middle East; here the perpetrators took direct action and punished the first Christian person they found.

On Friday, 10th of February and Saturday, 11th of February , large demonstrations took place in the city of Midyat in Tur-Abdin Thousands of fanatic Muslims gathered in Estel, the new section of the city, and began to march towards the old part of Midyat, where the Christians live.  There are no Scandinavian embassies or buildings in this area of Turkey.

The events raise many questions and remind observers of the days of the Cyprus conflict and other conflicts, when the Assyrians/Syriacs were punished for their Christian identity.

The demonstration was aimed at what is left of the Christian Assyrian/Syriac community. The mob gathered in Estel, walked 6 kilometers to Midyat to reach the Christian Assyrians/Syriacs. The mob was stopped by the police right before reaching Midyat.

During the last 5 years many Assyrians/Syriacs families moved back to Tur-Abdin, and many more are building and renovating their homes, hoping that conditions have improved in this area and the rest of Turkey.

Assyrian-Americans Reach Out to Relatives
Displaced by Iraq War

Courtesy of the Columbia News Service
14 February 2006
By Salim Abraham

(ZNDA: New York)  Georgette Isho wants to buy a new car to get to work. She’d also like to fix up her house.

But the mother of two brings home only $1,000 a month as a salesclerk, and from that she supports her family, including her disabled husband, Thomson, who suffers heart problems.

She also helps out a brother-in-law who fled his native Iraq and is struggling as a refugee in Syria. “It’s a heavy burden,” she said. But the Des Plaines, Ill., resident is happy she can help.

Isho, 45, is one of 450,000 Christian Chaldean-Assyrian Americans. Many of them are helping relatives who are among the approximately 250,000 Christians who have been driven out of Iraq by the factional violence since Saddam Hussein was toppled in March 2003. According to a report released by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees last October, Christians make up about half of the Iraqi refugees in neighboring Syria and Jordan.

The Christian exodus is the largest since 1914, when the Ottomans slaughtered about 1.5 million Armenians, 750,000 Assyrians and 350,000 Pontiac Greeks and drove hundreds of thousands of Christians out of their homelands.

President Bush pledged shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks not to let Islamic extremists drive Christians out of the Middle East. Islamic terrorists "want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa,” he said.

Christians numbered about 1.2 million in Iraq before the U.S.-led war began. Today about 750,000 remain, or about 3 percent of Iraq's 25 million people. They include the Chaldean-Assyrians, the majority Christian ethnic group, and Armenians.

Muslims often see Christians in the Middle East as supporters of the West.

In August 2004, Islamic terrorists bombed five churches in Baghdad and Mosul, killing seven people and injuring more than 40. About 40,000 Assyrians fled the country after those attacks.

On Jan. 29, six churches were bombed in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk after protests swept through the Middle East over the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that were published in a Danish newspaper. A 13-year-old was killed in the Kirkuk bombing.

With each such attack comes the likelihood of more refugees.

However, they rarely find good jobs in Syria, and those who work usually are just able to pay the rent. Most of the Iraqi Christian refugees receive help from relatives in countries like the United States, Australia or England.

Isho said she sends $300 every month to her brother-in-law, Brikhia Isho, 56, who has had a hard time finding a job in Syria to support his wife and three unemployed children since he left Iraq two years ago. His son, Giwargis, a 26-year-old dentist, hasn’t been able to find a job in Damascus, where the family has settled until stability is restored in Iraq or a Western country grants them a visa.

Shamiram Shemoun, 34, another Assyrian-American, also feels the burden of the insurgency. A resident of Skokie, Ill., Shemoun said her sister, Wailet Giwargis, fled Baghdad six months ago with her three children after her husband, Youbert, was detained in Iraq. He was released shortly afterward and joined the family in Damascus.

Shemoun, a housewife whose husband, Aweya, works as a barber, said, “Can you imagine? My sister’s husband was one of the best mechanics in Baghdad and now he lost his work because he is harassed by the insurgents and by the government.

“The only solution they had was to leave,” Shemoun said in Syriac, a version of Aramaic. She uses $200 of her husband’s $1,300 monthly take-home pay to help her sister in Damascus.

The Assyrian Foundation of America is also trying to help. The foundation’s treasurer, Daniel Qeleita, said the group has spent more than $200,000 to support needy Assyrians at home and in exile since 2002. He said it had also “invested money inside Iraq to help provide the country’s indigenous Chaldean-Assyrians with social security.”

The Assyrians once dominated the Middle East. In the 7th century B.C., their empire stretched from today’s Iraq through southern Turkey to the Mediterranean. They were among the first converts to Christianity and are divided into several churches, including the Catholic Chaldean, the Syriac Orthodox and Catholic and the Church of the East.

The flow of Chaldean-Assyrians has prompted the U.S. State Department to target reconstruction projects in areas with a dominant Chaldean-Assyrian population in Iraq.

Of the $1.2 billion allocated for projects in the province of Nineveh, where many Chaldean-Assyrians live, the department has allocated $33 million for areas with a dominant Chaldean-Assyrian population, said Richard G. Olson Jr., director of political affairs in the State Department’s office of Iraq, in a letter last year to advocacy groups concerned about the Christians’ situation in Iraq.

“The United States also remains committed to the security of Iraq’s citizens," Olson said. "We abhor the violence targeting ChaldoAssyrians and all other religious and ethnic groups.”

But Michael Youash, the Washington-based director of Iraq Sustainable Democratic Project, an advocacy group, said Chaldean-Assyrians are facing “economic discrimination.”

“The central government in Baghdad, the Kurdish government in the north and the American government are not getting resources to these people equitably,” Youash said.

“From what we can tell, the American government has targeted less than 1 percent of those resources in Nineveh to the Christian ChaldoAssyrians in their areas. That’s another reason why they are running” out of the country, Youash said.

For Shemoun and Isho, those projects won’t help their relatives in Damascus return to their homes in Iraq, where violence has been a daily nightmare.

“There is no security there, and no justice,” Shemoun said. “Only security and their well-being would get them back home.”

AAS-NZ Funding For Internet Centre in Nuhadra

Emil Odisho
AAS-New Zealand

On 1 February, Mr. Anderios Youkhana, member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and a member of the Parliament of Kurdistan, opened Nuhadra Internet Centre at the Assyrian Cultural Centre in Nuhadra/Duhok, Iraq.

The project was implemented by the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq (AAS-I) and funded by the Assyrian Aid Society of New Zealand (AAS-NZ) with a total contribution of US $14,000. Nuhadra Internet Centre, with 12 PC stations, provides Internet access and generates income to support humanitarian projects undertaken by AAS-I.

This is the latest project adopted by AAS-NZ after a participation in the pre-war Emergency Refugee Relief Programme and the purchase of two buses to transport Assyrian students to and fro their homes in the Nineveh Plain.

ADO Statement on the Mohammad Cartoons

A Statement for the Public Opinion on the Cartoon's Issue

Assyrian Democratic Organization
Political Bureau

12 February 2006

ADO Damascus 08 Feb.2006 : Assyrian Democratic Organization as well as our Chaldo-Assyrian people have been following with great concern the dangerous course the protests and demonstrations in the Arab and Islamic world especially in Iraq , Syria ,Palestine and Lebanon over the publication of cartoons insulting Islam is heading for . The caricatures originally appeared last September in a Danish newspaper (Jyllands-Posten) and later were republished in a number of European newspapers . These reactions have gone too far beyond the limits of condemnation and denunciation into attacks on six of our people's churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk and two others in Beirut , in addition to threats of setting fire to churches in Gaza , assaults on Christian students in al-Musol University as well as burning embassies in Damascus and Beirut in an unprecedented way , an attitude alien to our societies . These violent actions have resulted in the killing of innocent people and burning and destruction of private and public property . Moreover , the problem , particularly in Lebanon , has been exacerbated by angry mobs to the verge of a new civil war , had it not been for the mediation of some wise men there who were able to contain the situation in good time .

All this came under a vicious and systematic campaign in which fanatic groups conniving with opportunist political forces , who took the advantage of the protests against the publication of the insulting cartoons of the Holy prophet , to achieve political aims that are far from being religious or noble .

Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) views the escalation of the cartoon issue four months after its publication , closely connected with the political frustration and security tension prevailing in the Middle East , and further , with the crisis between the US and its European allies on one hand , and many countries of the region on the other , against the backdrop of many hot regional files ,on top of them , the Lebanese , Iraqi , Palestinian , Afghan as well as the Iranian nuclear issue . As a matter of fact , the various parties and political forces instigating these demonstrations wanted to "wage political wars" on various levels , under the banner of religion , taking advantage of the religious feelings of the faithful and simple people who would have done better had they called for the betterment of their livelihood , education and health care , as well as , their democratic rights which is being violated systematically by repressive regimes.

Click Image for More Information

The Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) , while strongly condemning the Danish newspaper and the other ones that have published and republished the cartoons disrespectful to Islam and Moslems , it equally condemns all the destructions , killings and arson that have accompanied these protest rallies . It further, calls on everybody to respect all the faiths and religions that hold especial sanctity in the hearts of many people all over the world . Similarly , we call upon the people , governments , mass media , political and religious authorities of the region to shun sectarian and political incitement and to create best relationships amongst the people of the region and the world based on mutual respect and dialogue . In this connection , ADO , calls the attention of these regional parties to an important and serious issue , which is the recurrence of attacks on the Christians and churches in the region - as it is happening now in Iraq - in an unjustified retaliation for the offences committed here and there in the western countries by individuals , governments or institutions against people of the region and their religious beliefs , oblivious to the fact that , Christians of the region throughout the history have always been siding with their Moslem brethren in protecting and building their common countries , not only this , but also were seven centuries ahead of them in that . As a matter of fact , we see that these attacks , carried out by well –known vicious and fanatic forces , are concealing very dangerous plots behind them . In fact, they are implementing hidden and evil plans aiming at destabilizing the region , and sowing seeds of hatred amongst the members of the same society , as well as tearing apart its social structure which historically depends on religious , cultural and ethnic diversity .

All these schemes come to serve goals completely contrary to the interests of the people who strives for freedom , stability and prosperity.

News Digest
News From Around the World


Kerimo Demands UN Supervised Zone for Iraqi Christians

A Press Release
Social Democrats in the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament)
3 February 2006

Yilmaz Kerimo (Social Democrat from Södertälje) Demands a Free Zone under the Supervision of the United Nations for the Christian Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans

Yilmaz Kerimo, Assyrian and a member of the Swedish Parliament

Muslims in Iraq are attacking the Christian Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans in retaliation for United State’s war in that country.  These acts of terror assault many innocent children, women and elderlies.

Christian churches are bombed without discernment.  The reactions to the drawings of Mohammed in the past few days have heightened the situation and the security of the Christian groups is very unstable.

It is now time for the international community to act to protect these threatened people. The only reasonable way to protect them today is to create a free zone under the supervision of the UN in the same way the Kurds have it today.   It is more important to offer this to the Christian Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans with regard to their acts of conscience with peaceful methods.  Other groups have attained their goals with violence. In accordance with this argument, Yilmaz Kerimo asks Laila Freivalds (Swedish Foreign Minister) for the creation of a free zone in Iraq for Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans under the supervision of the U.N.

The social Democratic party in Sweden is the country's largest party and is the current governing political group. Yilmaz Kerimo is an Assyrian and a member of the Swedish Parliament and the member of the Social Democratic party of Sweden. The above statement was translated from Swedish by Afram Baryakoub.

Moscow Assyrians Demand Protection for Iraqi Assyrians

Assyrians in Moscow protest in front of the U.S. Embassy.  Photo courtesy of BBC Worldwide Monitoring.

(ZNDA: Moscow)  Moscow Assyrians, represented by the leaders of the Assyrian Association “Khaydta” and the Youth Organization “Laimuta” declared on Saturday, 11 February that a number of notable Assyrians from Russia would meet at the American Embassy in Moscow on Novinskiy Boulevard to protest against the attacks on the Iraqi Christians.

The Moscow Assyrians who joined this protest expressed their dissatisfaction at the "American occupational forces in Iraq who cannot or do not want to protect persecuted Christians.", according to the spokesperson.  The slogans carried by the rally participants read in English, Russian, and Syriac (Assyrian): "Russia's Assyrians Against Terror in Iraq", "War for Oil is Killing Us", "Safety For Assyrians, Independence For Iraq".

"On 29 January, cars filled with explosives blew up next to six Christian Churches almost at the same time,” according to the ' Khaydta' statement released on that day. “Kidnappings and murders of our fellowmen are becoming quite common. They are taking place with the tacit approval of the American administration in Iraq, which based upon its own interests grants absolute rights to the Kurdish population and completely ignores the interests of the Christians of Iraq. We believe that all ethnicities living in Iraq should possess the same rights. That is why Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs of Iraq, as well as Kurds, must have constitutional rights to obtain the national autonomy in the federal, democratic Iraq.”

Translation from Russian by Nina Georgizova.  Special thanks to Mr. Nickolay Youkanov in Moscow.

Yonadam Kanna Speaks at AAS Fundraiser in Modesto

Courtesy of the Assyrian Aid Society of America
February 2006

Yonadam Kanna

(ZNDA: Modesto)  The Board of Directors of the Assyrian Aid Society of America met in Modesto, California, on Saturday, 4 February 2006 to map the organization's plans for the coming year and attend to annual administrative business. Directors and Chapter Presidents from around the country attended.

Yonadam Kanna spoke at an AAS-A fundraising dinner at the Assyrian American Civic Club in Turlock, California Saturday night following the Board's formal meeting sessions. Mr. Kanna, who is the only Assyrian voted to the Iraqi Parliament in the recent elections, is in the United States to meet with U.S. government officials.

The second featured speaker Saturday evening was the U.S. State Department's Walid Maalouf, Director of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Nearly 700 AAS-A supporters attended the dinner.

Kanna's Visit Marred by Bomb Threat in Turlock

Courtesy of the Turlock Journal
8 February 2006
B y Sabra Stafford

(ZNDA: Turlock)  A visit from an Iraqi politician at the Assyrian American Civic Club last Saturday night was interrupted when Turlock police received a bomb threat.

A call came into police dispatch around 7:30 p.m. from a male caller who said bombs had been placed all around the outside of the club at 2618 Golden State Boulevard said Sgt. Sue Steele.

Yonadam Kanna, a new member of the Iraqi parliament was speaking at the club that night. Kanna is a Chaldo-Assyrian, a Christian minority in Iraq. He is the only Assyrian representative in the 275-member parliament.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department was providing security for Kanna that night and decided not to evacuate the building according to Steele.

A California State University, Stanislaus bomb-sniffing dog was brought to the club to check the area and no explosive devices were found said Steele.

Steele said the bomb threat was made from a pay phone on Countryside Drive and that the caller had a Middle Eastern accent.

Kanna is the leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement was a exiled from the country during Saddam Hussein's reign. He was invited to the United States by President Bush for the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. He is touring the U.S. to meet with some of the voters who helped get him into office.

ADO Pays Homage to One of Its Greatests

Zinda Magazine
12 February 2006
By Afram Barryakoub

(Zinda; Sweden) On Saturday, 10 February the Assyrian Democratic Organisation (ADO) "Mtakasta" in Sweden organized a gathering in Södertälje to pay tribute to Sannharib Shabo, one of ADO’s legendary founders, who passed away on 23 of January 2006.

Sannharib Shabo, a founder of ADO in 1957 passed away last month.

Sannharib Shabo was born in 1940 in the Assyrian town of Qamishly, Syria. In 1957 he and his friends, as young as 17-year of age, founded the ADO.

Later in life Mr. Shabo left for Germany where he studied medicine to become a surgeon. During his time in Germany he assisted with the establishment of many Assyrian clubs and associations in Europe. In the days of the civil war in Lebanon he and other friends packed their suitcases with medicine and money and headed to assist Assyrians who were stuck in the war.

In 1968 Sannharib represented ADO in the meeting which founded the Assyrian Universal Alliance in Paris. After finishing his education he went back to Assyria in 1979 and the town of his birth to establish the first private hospital in 1984 in that part of the country.

Dr. Sannharib Shabo always said in his speeches:  "Our nation is suffering from a disease and that the only effective cure is a state of our own."

Despite being a founder of ADO Mr. Shabo later left the "Mtakasta" because of an ideological split with others in ADO. According to one of his close friends Dr. Sannharib believed that ADO should go one step further. “We have reached a limit and must dare to take new bold steps” he argued. His views were not well received and he eventually stepped down from politics.

Father Gabriel Barqasho, one of the many speakers during the evening, said that he had worked close to Sannharib during his time in Germany. He continued saying: "Dr. Sannharib had a mature view regarding our nation because he would always say that we can have several churches and views but we can still be ONE nation."

At the ADO Remembrance Event for the late-founder, Dr. Sannharib Shabo

Zaia Oshaia from the Assyrian Democratic Movement gave a short speech and expressed sorrow over the loss of Dr. Sannharib Shabo. Mr Oshaia said in his speech:   "We are in need of genuine hard work today in Assyria and therefore the death of Dr. Shabo is a big loss for our nation."

And Sait Yildiz, the ADO representative in Sweden forwarded the ADO grievances to the family of the late Dr. Sanharib Shabo and spoke about his good deeds in the service of the people.

The evening ended with a song performance by Habib Mousa with the song “Ethtir bar othur ethtir” (Wake up son of Assyria, Wake up).

Dr. Sannharib Shabo would always utter these words “I want to die in my beloved homeland and I want my bones to rest in the soil of Assyria”.

LIC Statement on Beirut Riot of 5 February

Joseph Gebeily
Lebanese Information Center

The events of February the 5th, 2006, which turned the streets of the mostly Christian areas of Beirut into intimidating scenes of violence and destruction, are a sad reminder of the times preceding the war in Lebanon in the 1970s, when local radicals, joined by foreign infiltrators, mostly Syrians and Palestinians, used to challenge the laws of the Lebanese land, attack Lebanese Security forces and foment chaos and turmoil throughout the Lebanese nation.

The complete and admirable restraint of the Lebanese Christian residents of the affected neighborhoods this past Sunday has deflected what could have turned into a massive confrontation with unpredictable results. This was only matched by the outrage and the indignation expressed by Lebanese Muslims across the political and religious spectrum towards these uncivilized behaviors. These two positions have truly confounded the plotters of these events, who hoped, by importing non-Lebanese elements, to ignite a sectarian conflict.

The Lebanese people trusted the Lebanese armed forces to protect them. Last Sunday’s incidents have cast a big doubt over this trust. Should similar aggressions occur again, it is extremely likely that residents will resort to their right to defend themselves and to safeguard their properties, using any available mean or weapon.

Therefore, and to prevent the enemies of Lebanon from spreading terror and destruction in the future, the Lebanese government should immediately implement the following measures:

  1. Secure the borders and prevent by all means the continuous infiltration from Syria of weapons, fighters, ammunitions, etc.
  2. Contain and disarm all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, as stipulated in the Taef Accord and UN Security Council Resolutions
  3. Present a complaint against Syria in the UN Security Council for its attempt to undermine security and stability in Lebanon.
  4. Request with no hesitation any international help needed to implement the abovementioned actions

What happened on the streets of Beirut on February 5th is a direct result of a crippled and hesitant political decision, in the face of a determined conspiracy of fanatic gangs and Syrian military and intelligence agents. The vigilant self-control of the Ashrafieh Christian residents and the sincere and angry condemnations of the Muslim leaders, presented a vision of unity rarely witnessed in Lebanon’s past. This has surely disappointed those who were hoping to ride back on the sectarian strife to return to Lebanon. It has also proven that the patriotic feelings and the belief that Lebanon comes first, have transcended any other religious or regional influences. This should present a strong incentive for the central Lebanese government to act quickly and reclaim its full sovereignty, with no exception, over all of the Lebanese territory. Otherwise, the recovery of Lebanon will become very difficult, if not impossible.

Assyrians in Australia Believed to Harbor Fugitive

Courtesy of UPI
14 February 2006

(ZNDA: Sydney)  Sydney authorities suspect the city's Assyrian community of harboring a gangster wanted in connection with two murders, police said Tuesday.

The head of a special gang task force for the state of New South Wales appealed to the ethnic community to turn in Ramon Youmaran, who narrowly evaded capture in a high-speed car chase Monday night, The Australian reported.

Youmaran, 27, is suspected in a fatal drive-by shooting last October and in the 2002 murder of Dimitri Debaz, which sparked retaliatory crimes including drive-by shootings, kidnappings and attempted murders in Sydney.

Police spotted Youmaran during a series of drug raids Monday, leading to a high-speed car chase through the city. The chase was called off over public safety concerns.

Monday's raids yielded 18,000 ecstasy and methamphetamine tablets, as well as an M-16 military assault rifle, semi-automatic rifle and revolver.

Detective Superintendent Mark Henney said Youmaran, who regularly changes his appearance, was being protected by Assyrian gang and family members.

Assyrians are an ethnic minority group inhabiting parts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Anatolie Festival Delights Assyrian Music Lovers in Holland

Nicholad Al-Jeelo, reporting for Zinda Magazine from Holland
Special thanks to Ms. Attiya Gamri, Assyrian provincial representative at the Parliament of the Netherlands

Ninib Lahdo performing with the St. Ephrem Choir at the Anatolie Festival in Holland.

Last night, in Enschede’s Great Church, an audience of some 150 Dutch, Turks and Assyrians had the fortune of listening to the performances of the crème-de-la-crème of Assyrian musical talent in Europe. The event, a concert showcasing traditional and modern Assyrian music, was organized by Attiya Gamri as part of the Enschede’s 5th annual Anatolie Festival. It also marked the first time that Assyrians have participated in this festival, and was a resounding success.

Those who participated in the concert varied in talents both local and from overseas, and in styles from the modern to the traditional, religious to folk. Among these were the St. Ephrem Choir of the Assyrian Bethnahrin Association of Enschede, directed by maestro Alyas Musake; star oud player Mousa Elias from Sweden, accompanied by Gambian percussionist Omar on the chembe (African drums); and the classic folk singer Ninib Lahdo from Sweden.

Mousa Elias and Omar at the Anatolie Festival.

The event was opened by Faruk, organizer of the Anatolie Festival, and opening speeches were also given by the representative of Enschede City Council J.Hassink ( CDA) and Fr. Samuel Dogan from the Syriac Orthodox Church. These were followed by the St. Ephrem Choir, which presented a range of the finest Syriac hymns, national songs, as well as folk song "Grishla idi", accompanied by the music of flutes, violin, piano accordion, saz, triangle and keyboard. They were followed by Mousa Elias’ modern renditions and compositions, based on Assyrian folk and religious music and enhanced by Omar’s soulful drumming, which fit in well with the pieces and at times was quite indistinguishable from traditional Assyrian beats.

After a short break, the audience was treated to the deep voice of Ninib Lahdo, as he chanted some of the most melodious hymns from the Beth-Gazo (treasury of Syriac Orthodox music), accompanied by Mousa Elias on the oud. The effect was quite haunting and beautiful. Ninib then performed alongside the St. Ephrem Choir, first the hymn Qadishat Aloho, then folk songs Gerki-Shamo and Hano Qritho. The final song was the highlight of the evening, with a standing ovation and an encore performance proving just how much of a success the event was.

Ninib Lahdo performing songs from Beth-Gazo.

This concert, one of the first of its kind to be held in the Netherlands, was quite unique and well received by the entire audience, both Assyrian and non-Assyrian. It was entertaining in its variation, with parts of the night quite emotional and others joyful. Some performances brought people nearly to tears and others had them dancing in their seats. In some parts one was treated to the lively and colorful beats and melodies of the Assyrian highlands, and in others one was transported back to the ancient stone churches and monasteries of Tur-Abdin and northern Mesopotamia and the echoes of more than one and a half thousand years that youthfully bounce from their walls and vaulted ceilings.

In short, one must truly thank the organizers and volunteers for their precious time and efforts in producing such an event, which further served to prove that music is truly an international medium of communication and, in addition, our own musical tradition is something ancient and beautiful that must be shared with the world community!

Surfs Up!
Your Letters to the Editor

Zinda Reports are One-Sided

Anokeen Varani

Yet again you claim to deliver "accurate and timely reporting and analysis" but you clearly are in the dark and one sided with your stories. This was simply a preliminary hearing. The real end result was that Mr. Soro did not win anything. It was simply decided that this case needs to go to trial. Charges of financial embezzlement and mismanagement of funds against him have not been cleared as you have stated. In your story you also claim that the Assyrian Church of the East Western Diocese will remain in full control of Mr. Soro. However a few lines later you say that Mar Narsai Church was given back to its rightful people. And Mar Gewargis Church will be shared by both parties. So in reality he started off with full access to all the churches and now only has full access to only one. In fact you failed to mention that the judge asked Mr. Soro to provide the plaintiffs financial reports and show what he has done with our money. Money that poor old women and hard working families gave as Mashkhadta every week at church. How easy it was for him to just take their money and place of worship from them with no regards.

As for Mar YOSIP church, in the end the real and truly loyal parishioners to this church will eventually gain access. And all the people that follow Mr. Soro, Mr. Dinkha, and Mr. Michael will dissolve into thin air for they are not true believers rather people just looking to find ways to hurt the Assyrian Church of the East. Look around you and see how many of his followers are actual parishioners of the original Mar Yosip Assyrian Church of the East. Mr. Soro failed to gain the support of the any of our bishops, and priests. In fact the only priest that came to his rescue was Rev. Yoshia Sana of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Doesn’t that make you wonder why? Why would he be the only person supporting him? He should not even get himself involved. Our church has nothing to do with him. Or does it? Well let’s see most of the people blindly following Mr. Soro are people of his church. When the time comes Rev Sana will have to face the music too.

Mr. Soro started by telling His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV that we are a week church and need to go under the rule of Vatican to survive. But what he did not anticipate was that this notion of his made us that much stronger. I would have never been exposed to people such as His Grace Mar Meelis of Australia, or His Grace Mar Odishoo of Europe, His Grace Mar Gewargis of Iraq, and not to forget the chilling words that His Grace Mar Narsai gave us upon his visit. For this I thank Mr. Soro and at the same time feel sorry for him and his group. The most he can gain is some property but when it comes time to face the all mighty GOD he will in fact have a lot on the line. At that time the fanciest lawyers and all the money and property in the world can not pull him out of this jam. At least we all are able to go to sleep comfortably at nights knowing that we are following GOD and that we have nothing to worry about.

I beg you at Zinda to stay honest in your reporting. As a news reporter you should feel obligated to tell the truth sometimes. It will change you; I know it can be a challenge when your spiritual leader is full of lies, hate, deception, and evil.

To substantiate the accuracy of the report and the claims alluded to in our reader's letter, Zinda Magazine will publish the official court statement obtained previously in a future issue.  Zinda Magazine stands by its objective and accurate reporting of news and if found in error will promptly correct previously published information.

Can We Overcome Our Differences?

Sargon Sapper

Once again, unable to unite as one force, the Assyrians lost out on yet another golden opportunity. So, the question is, will we learn from the lessons we have been taught through the sacrifices and struggles of those before us?

The main reason is the various branches of our Assyrian nation continue to be distracted. Most notably, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, and the Syriacs, as well as their churches, both inside the country and abroad, face one another in opposition. At the center of their dispute, is the origin of each denomination’s roots. Over time, the reality is that the dispute has only served to isolate one branch from another. It is clear that the existing dispute between branches of our nation, and our churches, is not related to our basic rights in our historic homeland, but rather to the name of our one nation, itself. Some branches refuse to come to terms with the truth about their nationality’s roots. Instead, they bear resentment, exhibit racism, and portray negative behavior toward each other. As a result of this shameful behavior, our people will forever be hindered by our own efforts. We will remain divided, our churches separated, and our collective rights sacrificed.

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Therefore, the right thing to do is to put an end to this dispute, join forces, and move on toward matters of our destiny in our homeland Iraq. For example, we need to affirm our ethnic existence in our own country, share a common objective, safeguard our people and our equal rights, and ensure justice to us all, united as one nation.

However, the task of convincing the branches of our nation to unite in the face of great adversity is all of our responsibility. We must make certain that this convergence not be perceived as a compromise of principles, but instead as an acceptance of the profound historical evidence that we are indeed one people. Perhaps, if successful, we will mark the beginning of a new era for a united Assyrian people in the new Iraq.

Once united, we must establish principles in which we can all believe. The fact is success means very different things to different people. So, we must agree upon our definition of success, and then develop a means to measure that success. We should set well-defined goals that are time-based, achievable, and results oriented. We will then need to strategize and execute our plan flawlessly. Once these pivotal elements are in place, we can apply every bit of our ability to achieve the objectives at hand, whatever the circumstances at the time. In time, the satisfaction of the realization of our goals will only be overshadowed by the gratification we will all feel by challenging ourselves to be our very best.

Of course, the Iraqi dictatorial regimes simply ignored minority’s rights. In disappointing fashion, the new Iraqi constitution, although written to establish democracy, also places minorities in a place of insignificance and leaves them unprotected. Clearly, the branches of our Assyrian nation acting separately were not able to achieve any measurable success. This fact should serve to illustrate the need to face future challenges together. In due time, the new Iraqi National Assembly will attempt to introduce an amendment process to the new constitution. Assyrians should demand that any amendments made to the Iraqi constitution must be representative of all people, and should recognize the right of the majority and minority alike. This will only be possible if the majority in the National Assembly both hears and acknowledges our cries for equality. Of course, Assyrians should demand nothing less than equal rights, our own administrative territory, and a timetable guaranteeing when these rights will be executed into law. No minority should be forced against its will to accept that its affairs be administrated by another majority or minority.

If history has taught us anything it is that there is power in unity, and together we can accomplish more. The question is can we overcome our differences and unite in order to ensure our voice is heard?

Remembering A Great Leader

Joseph Haweil

Division; schism; separation; anger and argument have all, most unfortunately become words that we Assyrians are greatly acquainted with. These words are now embedded in our collective psyche; our lexicon encompasses what we all know to be a world that spins and spins and spins continually without ever coming to a conclusive or even prospectively positive outcome. We live in a Nation void of boundaries, checkpoints or borders. Indeed we ask year after year, ‘eman atour bet geema’ (when will Assyria rise)? Is it our preoccupation with ourselves or is it simply something that is cemented into our brainwaves? Are we as a Nation ever bound to rebuild, regroup and reorganize a functioning society based on dignity and respect of all?

Mar Benyamin Shimmun, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, was assassinated in 1918.

Increasingly we see ourselves plunged into a throng of anger and bitter division. Our churches cannot be blamed for this. No, they must not be blamed. Our churches today are the only organizations that have the capacity to draw the throngs of people; no political party has ever had this power so far, not even Yonadam Kanna’s vote-winning, popularity-crazed ZOWAA (ADM). Our churches remain better funded, organised and much to the probable dismay of many San Jose parishioners turned revolutionaries, more prospective organizations than political entities.

Looking at events currently unfolding we see a renegade bishop speaking endlessly of love and respect. Although I am deeply troubled to see that the current ecclesiastical equivalent of a revolution is diminishing the regard and respect we have always paid to our religious leaders. No one can sit behind their computer screens and endlessly critique the Assyrian Church of the East without being held accountable. How ironic that supporters of this certain terminated bishop listen to him preach from the pulpit for respect and love on the one hand while his supporters speak the worst evil against everyone bar their own leader!

Jonathan S. Davidson, M.D. in his letter, ‘The War of Peasants & Aristocrats’ in the last issue of Zinda Magazine correctly presents the case in the example of the French and Russian Revolutions and their end resulting in the violent overthrow of the monarchy and the rise of terms like citizen and democratic. Although Dr. Davidson neglects to stipulate that although the Assyrian Church of the East is indeed run in a hierarchical structure it provides means for people to be involved, dramatically in the affairs of their church from parish committee member to organizer of various events. This is something that King Louis XVI did not provide at all while the Russian Tsar’s allocation of freedom was minimal.

We as a Nation are both unable and sometimes unwilling to move beyond the boundaries that we have created for ourselves. We show a lack of initiative. What shall we youth of this beleaguered Nation look forward to? Are we forever going to go in circles because of those who each claim to have the right ideas for Nationalism? Many blame the churches and the church leaders but this is DEEPLY WRONG. Wrong to the core! It is these churches and church leaders which have maintain us and strengthened us through the words of Christ. Without the churches would we today be able to worship together instead of in foreign churches? Would we be able to meet together on a common ground? Certainly not! We listen to, sing and read His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV’s inspiring words and learn from them love and mutual respect; not anger. God Bless Mar Dinkha IV and his message of love. And God Bless every leader who not only preaches but acts this great message of love. Churches, particularly the Assyrian Church of the East have been the reason for the survival of the Assyrian language, culture and faith; whether you choose to believe it or not.

So, on the 19th of February 2006 the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East will undertake the ‘Commemoration of Mar Benyamin Shimon, Patriarch, The Martyr’. May we all as not only Christians but Assyrians stop, attend church and remember this great Catholicos-Patriarch who embodied and represented the true Christianity and Assyrianism that we all hope to achieve. His Holiness occupied the See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon for 15 years culminating in his cowardly assassination in March 1918.

“All truly great men are humble and meek. Such was the young Patriarch of the East. The Russian generals gave him the homage of a king, and the little children would run to him as to a loving father. He elicited the admiration of the Grand Duke of Russia, who in conversing with his visitor felt as if he was in the presence of a crowned king, and he made himself the idol of his people, by the attention he paid to the poorest and the humblest of his flock. He rode in the imperial carriage and received the welcome given to a Czar, when he visited Tiflis, and he, at sight of the weary refugees of his people, whom he found limping on the roads, took their place by walking afoot and gave them the horse he had mounted.” 1

So let us remember this great Patriarch and stop on the 19th of February, regardless of our opinions, church denominations and arguments and praise this true man of God.

1. Volume 17 No1.The Progressive Assyrian Newsletter of Bet Nahrain Democratic Party

ANA-SC Condemnation of the Church Bombings in Iraq

The Assyrian National Alliance of Stanislaus County
9 February 2006

The Assyrian National Alliance in Stanislaus County representing national and political leaders of our community condemns the publication of the caricatures of Islam’s prophet Mohammad by few newspapers in Europe.

In the meantime, we condemn and protest the reactionary act of some terrorist and fanatic groups in bombing of our churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk and the attacks on our innocent Christian people of Iraq and the beating of students. Many innocent people were killed and wounded in this despicable act.

We ask the Iraqi authorities to provide security and protection for our people and churches from further acts and demand the arrest of the people responsible for these crimes and brought to justice.
We ask from the Bush Administration to provide protection to our Chaldo-Assyrian-Syriac people of Iraq the indigenous people of that country.

Assyrian Society of UK Comments on Dadesho's Remarks

Yonadam Kanna in Chicago

William Aprim

Three days of the historic visit by his Excellency Younadam Kanna, newly elected Assyrian member of the Iraqi Parliament, and Chairman of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, (ZOWAA) to Chicago ended today Tuesday, February,14.06.

During his visit, Mr. Kanna attended a special dinner in his honor on Sunday February,12.06, at the White Eagle Banquet Hall, in the city of Niles, a suburb of Chicago, at 6:00 P.M. A large crowd well over 1000 people participated in welcoming their Hero from Beth Nahrain.

Among the guests were His Beatitude, Bishop Mar Ammanoel Elia and Rev. Awikam Pityo, from the Church of the East; Rev. Edward Bekoma of the Chaldean Catholic Church; Rev. Athanasis Youseph and Fr. Khoshaba Boza from the Assyrian Church of The East.

Also in attendance were leaders of our political parties: Mr. Alaidin Khamis, President of Assyrian National Federation; Mr. Gilyana, Vice President (ANF) – Mr. Sheeba Mando, President of The Assyrian National Council of Illinois – Dr. Adam Benjamin, USA/Canada permanent representative of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ZOWAA), plus various notables from our community's social and religious organizations.

The Mayor of Niles Township, and a dozen of politicians running for public office were introduced to Mr. Younadam Kanna, during the evening. All these politicians offered overwhelming support and congratulations citing the importance of this new parliamentary representation to the Assyrian people.

After the serving of dinner, Mr. Younadam Kanna, delivered a speech which lasted one hour. His speech was interrupted many times with thunders of applause and loud patriotic songs. Before the end of this joyous historical event, Mr. Kanna decided to visit every table to shake hands and take pictures with all the people attending the reception. It was a very exciting evening full of joy, peace and respect for the presence of a trusted son.

On Monday, Feb. 13 at 8:30 A.M – Mr. Younadam Kanna met with Illinois Congresswoman Ms. Jan Schakowski . Discussions were held in a cordial atmosphere and considered highly appreciable to the office of the Congresswoman, who later told the accompanying members that Mr. Kanna is a very intelligent and energetic person, that his nomination to the Iraqi Parliament is really an asset to the Assyrian people.

At 2:00 P.M. Mr. Younadam Kanna met with His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of The Assyrian Church – The meeting lasted two hours. No details have been released yet.

At 6:00 P.M. Mr. Younadam Kanna gave a press conference at the Assyrian National Council, ChaldoAssyrianSyriac Center, in Niles Illinois – 600 people attended. Many questions on the current situation were answered in a very satisfactory manner. Mr. Kanna expressed full confidence in the capability of the newly elected Iraqi Parliament to deal with the problems facing the country today. He was optimistic that peace and stability will be restored in the near future. He said that it was a matter of time, today, all Iraqi people are praying and working for peace to bring the country back to normality.

Words will not suffice to describe the feelings of the people and the overwhelming joy displayed during this short visit. Therefore, we are praying that out of this solidarity will come peace and understanding. Let this proud example of moral responsibility be felt by others who disagree with the situation on the ground. Today, and for another four years, Mr. Younadam Kanna will represent ChaldoAssyrianSyriac people in the newly elected Iraqi Parliament. This is a reality, rumors and falsifying news can’t and will not be able to change this concrete foundation. Leave the people alone, the nation deserve some peace of mind, and respect.

AAASJ Responds to Zinda Report on Yadgar Booksigning

Executive Board
Assyrian American Association
of San Jose

The Assyrian American Association of San Jose would like to respond to your incorrect assumptions written in the article regarding the recent book-signing event for Mr. Obelit Yadgar, which was held at the Assyrian American Association of San Jose. We would like to clarify a few things. None of the executive board members with the exception of one individual had attended the church function as you had stated. Members of the board had conflicts with the date requested. In fact, due to their prior engagements, Mr. Sayros Yadgar of Ashur TV was notified of the conflicts weeks prior to the function. Mr. Sayros Yadgar requested to move forward with the event since Mr. Obelit Yadgar was already arriving in San Jose for an interview on Ashur TV. Unfortunately, we cannot speak on behalf of the remaining Assyrian community members and do not know what prevented them from participating.

The Assyrian American Association of San Jose will continue to host our Assyrian artists and greet them with warm welcomes as we have done in the past, which you have attested to and witnessed most recently at Ms. Rosie Malek-Yonan’s book signing event. We hope that the Assyrian community will continue to show their appreciation of our artists and participate in future functions as they have done in the past.

Surfer's Corner
Community Events

Form Follows Function: A Design of An Assyrian Identity

Feb 20–24, 2006

Sponsored by Zinda Magazine


College Art Association is holding it’s 94th Annual Conference in Boston, drawing over 5,000 participants. Sharokin Betgevargiz, a MFA candidate in graphic design at Boston University, is one of four New England nominees selected for the CAA's Regional MFA Exhibition.

Using modern Assyrian letterforms and ancient Assyrian patterns, she weaves a visually colorful and multilayered connection of a fragile but resilient identity that spans from Ancient Mesopotamia to current day Iraq and the forced Arabization and Kurdification of Assyrians in the region.

Opening Reception
Thursday, February 23, 6:00-8:00pm

Godline Family Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art
621 Huntington Ave (Avenue of the Arts) @ corner of Evans Way
Tower Building

Gallery Hours

Open and free to public.

New Issue of Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies

(Vol. 9, No. 1, January 2006)

Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute announces the publication today of a new issue of its peer-reviewed periodical Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies. The issue is available electronically on the Institute's home page, and will be available in print later this year. (Volume 5, 2002, is now available in printed form; see subscription note below.)

The new issue contains the following:


A Sixteenth-Century Batrashil in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Jennifer L. Ball

Abstract. This paper, through an analysis of the iconography, style and use of the sixteenth-century bishop's stole and its inscription, seeks to elucidate the post-medieval history of liturgical vestments in the Syriac Orthodox church, where little research has been done. The stole will be set firmly within Syriac Orthodox art, using earlier manuscript illumination. It also illustrates ties between the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Coptic and Nubian churches. The object adds to the known history of the Mar Musa al-Habashi monastery, with which the owner of the stole was affiliated. It also furthers our limited evidence on patron-artist relationships and women artists in Islam, as the inscription tells us some information about the embroiderer.

Ecclesiastics and Ascetics: Finding Spiritual Authority in Fifth- and Sixth-Century Palestine.
Jennifer L. Hevelone-Harper, Gordon College

Abstract. During the fifth and sixth centuries, the church in Palestine experienced considerable turmoil over christological divisions. In the midst of this controversy monks sometimes came into conflict with the established hierarchy of the church. As a source of spiritual authority distinct from ecclesiastical power circles, ascetics could support or undermine the work of a bishop. Drawing upon the works of John Rufus, Zachariah Scholasticus, and Barsanuphius and John of Gaza, this article explores the various models used to reconcile ecclesiastic and ascetic sources of spiritual authority. It examines these authors' perceptions of interactions between monks and bishops as they established and maintained their spiritual authority.

Possible historical traces in the Doctrina Addai.
Ilaria Ramelli, Catholic University of Milan

Abstract. The Teaching of Addai is a Syriac document convincingly dated by some scholars in the fourth or fifth century AD. I agree with this dating, but I think that there may be some points containing possible historical traces that go back even to the first century AD, such as the letters exchanged by king Abgar and Tiberius. Some elements in them point to the real historical context of Abgar `the Black''s reign in the first century. The author of the Doctrina might have known the tradition of some historical letters written by Abgar and Tiberius.

Publications and Book Reviews

Recent Books on Syriac Topics.
Sebastian P. Brock, Oxford University

Eugene F. Rogers, Jr., After the Spirit: A Constructive Pneumatology from Resources outside the Modern West.
Robert A. Kitchen, Knox-Metropolitan United Church

Joanna Weinberg, Azariah de' Rossi's Observations on the Syriac New Testament: A Critique of the Vulgate by a Sixteenth-century Jew.
P.J. Williams, University of Aberdeen

Editor's Pick


Who is the West Listening To?

Nuri Kino

In some of the media in the Moslem world they jeer at or ridicule Jesus, Moses, Buddha or some other prophet almost every day. I have never heard that anyone spat on, trampled or burned the flags of the Arab nations because of this. The religion that western society is based on urges us to turn the other cheek even when we are attacked without provocation. Islam, on the other hand, incites one to act and, by extension, threaten and kill. When they burn the Danish flag they also scream out anti-Christian propaganda. It is not only Denmark but the entire “Christian” west they are attacking.

It is not okay to blaspheme a prophet – because it hurts the feelings of those who believe in him. But I am grateful for Jyllands-Posten’s provocation. I have nothing against Islam or the Muslims, but I believe that the western world has no idea how many Muslims think or feel.

The Mohammad caricatures are an alarm clock. Perhaps now journalists and others in the west will begin to understand why so many Christians are fleeing from an Iraq that is becoming more and more Islamified. In Sweden, for example, one has the right to asylum only if the country of origin oppressive. If someone from Egypt, for example, is threatened and forced to flee because of the harassment of his neighbors due to his Christian faith, the Swedish Migration Department refuses to acknowledge this as a legitimate reason. They will be rejected since the Egyptian state is officially not the oppressor.

Why has none of the western media (except for a brief bulletin on Swedish TV) reported about the six churches that have been bombed in Iraq – where one person was killed – because of the Mohammad caricatures. Christians in the Arab world live under constant threat. It has gone so far that they have become accustomed to it and adjusted their lifestyle to this danger. They have to exist knowing that they do not have the same rights unless they convert to Islam. The western media should become aware of these conditions.

In Iraq a person lost his life because someone in a tiny land in the north published caricatures of Mohammad. If anyone, certainly the Jylland-Posten, should report on these conditions. Perhaps this newspaper lacks the information about this, but certainly not Politiken, another large Danish morning newspaper (that, incidentally, belongs to the same concern). Several days ago a reporter from Politiken phoned me and asked if he could come in contact with Christians in Iraq. Now I wonder why they haven’t written about this? Is it because it wasn’t a Dane that lost his life?

The secular west does not want to understand religion’s mechanisms and, therefore, cannot understand the repression of Christians in the Arab world. Another reason is that they think everyone is the same. This lack of understanding develops into pure prejudice. It then becomes difficult to comprehend that someone who belongs to another ethnicity or another religion has lost his life because of some drawings.

This entire story is bewildering. On the 31st of January the Swedish afternoon paper Expressen published a column that I had written where, among others, I wrote about the students in Mosul who had been assaulted. “You’re out of your mind. Don’t you understand that more students will be battered now! You’re endangering others by reporting this. Their student union will be forced to openly disclaim your article”, shouted an irate Iraqi Arab man to me on the phone. I became uncertain. Have I done the right thing? Think if this man was right.

In an interview with SVT on the first of February, Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson said that he felt that Denmark’s prime minister was too defensive. “I should have gone on a diplomatic offensive and forcefully spelled out what is the Danish position”. What remains is the question why no Swedish newspaper has, what several others have done, published the drawings in their entirety. Perhaps Swedish newspaper editors have become accustomed to “turn the other cheek”? Perhaps they think of themselves as better than other Europeans? Perhaps they think of themselves as better than the Muslims? Perhaps they are frightened. Or, perhaps, they refuse to see reality and the world for what it is.

Nuri Kino says it like it is in the city of Sodertalje in Sweden.  He is a gifted journalist and a voice of inspiration to the Assyrian youth in Europe.  Kino's recent documentary on the Assyrian football (soccer) team "Assyriska" was a success on the Swedish prime time television.

“Assyrian Woman” in the Days of Mourning

Sona Meloyan

“What happened to the Assyrian and Armenian Christians at the beginning of the 20th century is a crime against all humanity,” – says the playbill of the drama “Assyrian Woman”, recently staged at the Artashat Theatre in Artashat, Armenia. “The genocide against Armenians ended in the 1920s, however genocide against Assyrians still continues until today,” says one of the characters on stage.

During last year's commemoration of the 1915 Seyfo Genocide, the Assyrians living in Armenia conducted a campaign solely devoted to express their solidarity with the Armenian people and to talk about their own tragedy.

The Armenians and Assyrians went through this damned genocide which killed 1,500,000 Armenians and over 750,000 Assyrians. I have decided to talk to the Armenian people in their own language, to talk about their problems, which they share with Assyrians. How did this play emerge? This is just a simple dialog – between an Assyrian and the Armenian.

When I was writing this play, I never thought that it would end up in such a large campaign. There is just a few people these days who know that Assyrians were the foundation of the civilization, created written language and one of the wonders of the world… Assyrians also propagated Christianity in Armenia: Akop Mzmnetsi, Grigoriy the Enlightener’s brother-in-arms and one of the most active preachers of God’s Word in Armenia, was an Assyrian,” - says Razmik Khosroev, an actor at the Sundukyan National Theater and a member of the Coordinating Council of Minorities under the President of Armenia.

Artashat’s Theater had not witnessed a full house as this for a long time. Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, Ukrainians, Russians and Kurds came to see and listen to the story which is taking place in today’s Iraq and at the same time touch the deepest roots of the history of the mankind.

The events unfold in Mosul, Iraq, on the ruins of the temple of the ancient Nineveh, the former capital of the Assyrian Kingdom. The play is focused on the Assyrian woman – Semira (played by N. Avetisyan), who receives her education in England and is obsessed with an idea of reviving the Assyrian State System and the Assyrian ancient culture. The echoes of this culture are scattered around the outline of the play: in the setting, folklore dancing, national songs that are strange and attractive, at the same time, for the unaccustomed ear, in the scenes of the epic of Gilgamesh, which are performed at the foot of the temple by Semira and Nimrod - an Assyrian and an officer of the British Army (played by the actor of the National Theatre, Artashes Aleksanyan).

The melodies of the national songs are interrupted by the sound of cannons: there is a war in Iraq still bringing destruction to the people and to the great culture created by Assyrians.

“Despite of all the promises made by the authorities, the museum of the Assyro-Babylonian culture was looted in the matter of just five days…”

“The Christian Church was bombed yesterday, as a result of which ten Armenians and twenty Assyrians died…”

“Armenians managed to regain their State system, but the Assyrian people are still undergoing genocide…”

Fred Simon, the artist-missioner (played by R.Avetisyan) is ready to give his life to save ancient cuneiforms, that disappeared from the museum and became the same victims of the genocide as the human victims. Although Lady Florence (played by G.Galstyan) and her son Fenooik (played by A.Minasyan) representing the British in the play, do not care about any of it. At all times when American and British economic interests conflict with declarations about freedom, respect to other cultures, humanism.

“Preservation of the nation is above all the preservation of its culture. The main goal of our action is to remind that Iraq, which has two million Assyrians among its population, has an ancient culture, which is being destroyed step by step. Due to the 90th anniversary of the genocide in Armenia a great number of Assyrians from different countries will be invited by the government and they will have a chance to the see the play. I believe that it will be very interesting for them, because for the first time genocide is portrayed through the language of theater. There are numerous articles, books on the Assyrian genocide, but I tried to express it through the language of theater, because I think that one play will tell more than many articles. Just look at the response “The Moon Monster” received in the world! And I am very glad that our play-action was watched by the representatives of eleven minorities that live in Armenia and everybody was deeply moved and even surprised: why they did not think of this idea before,” says Razmik Khosroev.

Artashat Theatre was especially selected to be the voice of the Assyrians in this painful matter. There are two villages in Artashat region - Dvin and Dimitrov – that are partially populated by Assyrians. There is also an Assyrian dance group that includes not only the Assyrian youth, but Armenian as well and that took part in the play.

“Assyrian Woman” exists thanks to enthusiasm of Ramzik Khosroev and the Assyrian Association of Armenia “Atour” and also the Ministry of Culture of Armenia which partially sponsored the play.

“This is the first case in the history of the Assyrians of Armenia, when our culture was taken beyond homes, families, villages and rose to the state level. We are very grateful to the Ministry, which realizes that the culture of the minorities that constitute about 3% of the country’s population is also part of Armenia’s culture,” says the author of the play.

Translation from Russian by Nina Georgizova

Christianity Faces its Own Fight in Iraq

Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
10 February 2006
By Deborah Horan

Sister Luma Khudher stared into the youthful faces of the armed Christian men guarding the entrance to her Iraqi village. They had peered warily inside her taxi until they realized they recognized the driver and spotted Khudher and four other nuns in habits seated in back. The guards' faces relaxed."Go," one of them said, waving the taxi through the checkpoint. Within minutes the taxi reached the center of Qaraqush, a small Christian village nestled in the shadow of Kurdistan in northern Iraq. It was the first time the Iraqi-born Dominican nun had been home in three years.Flashbacks of that incident haunt Khudher, 29, as she tries to reconcile her quiet life at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, where she lives, with the chaos she encountered during a one-month trip to her homeland last summer. There were never armed sentries at the gate to her village before the war.

But then, there had never been a need. What had happened to her country, Khudher wondered, since her Catholic order sent her to Illinois in April 2002 to study and teach? And what lay in store for her small town near Mosul?

"Every time I hear from my family, I thank God they're still alive," said Khudher. "It makes me sad. It took a long time for me to admit that what I saw, it's reality. It's happening."The guards are good for now to protect the village," she said. "But I hope it won't be for long. You feel like you are in a battlefield. You don't feel that you are home."Before she left for Iraq, Khudher knew that the country's 1 million Christians were vulnerable to attack. In her phone calls home, family members had described entire Christian villages left to their own devices in the wake of the war. In Qaraqush, they said, the head priest of the biggest church had become mayor after the government-appointed leader fled.But Khudher was unprepared for the stark changes she encountered on the trip: the guns and garbage, the destruction and fear, especially the fear. It had gripped Iraq's minority Christian community, keeping residents from voting and prompting them to flee the country.In the last two years, liquor store owners had been murdered and more than two dozen churches bombed. One day last month, explosions at four churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk left three people dead, according to news reports and Iraqi Christian leaders in Chicago.Khudher was startled to discover on the trip that nuns had received threats warning them not to wear their habits in the street. And though she knew Christians feared that Kurdish and Arab political aspirations threatened to overwhelm them, the point sunk in only when she gazed up at a giant mural of a Kurdish leader posted at the entrance to her village."It was hanging right where the picture of Saddam Hussein used to be," Khudher said.Part of the problem, Christian leaders say, lies in the size of the country's Christian population in Iraq. Once numbering in the millions, the community has been steadily shrinking for decades. Dozens of Christian villages have been destroyed in a succession of wars. And since Hussein's government fell, thousands of Christians have fled to neighboring Syria and Jordan."We are now a seriously endangered people and civilization," said Edward Odisho, an Iraqi Christian from Morton Grove, who has been active in calling attention to his people's plight. "In 40 years, no one will remain speaking Assyrian in Iraq."For Khudher, the view from Qaraqush drove the existential threat home. She thinks about her hometown often as she walks the halls of Marian Catholic, past student lockers and science labs. They remind her of how much Iraqi students lack, she said.

"Our students have nothing like this," Khudher said. "There is no lunch period, no study hall, no gyms. There are no lockers. The students carry their books in a backpack all day. There are lab rooms, but they don't have any materials."

Khudher is studying for a master's degree in biblical spirituality, and when she's not in class, she is at the high school. Sometimes she cooks Iraqi food for the other nuns.But her village is never far from her mind. There are precious few jobs in Qaraqush other than farming. Many of the town's young men have emigrated. In the wake of the war, many villagers were murdered as families settled scores in the absence of a functioning police force. Men were captured and held, sometimes for weeks, victims of a move to purge villages of Hussein's Baath Party, which also included Christians.Khudher's father and brother, both owners of small grocery stores, made daily supply runs to Mosul. But many villagers avoided leaving the town. The highways were too dangerous. Even in town, they took extraordinary precautions, canceling last year's annual Palm Sunday procession for fear of a bombing.By the time Khudher arrived in June 2005 to take her final profession of vows, Qaraqush had recovered from the initial shocks of war. But the armed sentries reminded the townspeople of their vulnerability. So did the lack of security on the highways, teeming with insurgents. Iraqi police offered little protection, as Khudher discovered during the taxi ride from Jordan to Qaraqush.The taxi's tire had blown and the driver went to the next town to get it patched, leaving Khudher and the other passengers alone on the side of the road. Policemen in wrinkled uniforms came by in a pickup truck.

"Do you know how dangerous this road is?" Khudher recalled one of the officers asking before the men drove away, disappearing in a plume of desert dust.

"They left us standing in the middle of nowhere," Khudher said, her jaw dropping in disbelief. "They didn't offer to help."

We are Middle Eastern Americans

Pierre A. Maroun
Secretary General
American Lebanese Coordination Council

Ever so often, certain partisan groups who claim to be grassroots and non-profit organizations use the freedom of expression in the United States to attack the conduct of the other active groups. In particular, The Arab American Institution (AAI), headed by Mr. James Zogby, has repeatedly alleged that measures taken by the Bush Administration to combat terrorism have infringed on the rights of the Arab and Muslim communities in the USA. While it is the right of every American citizen to speak his/her mind, it is our responsibility to correct the blatant misrepresentation of our communities. We believe that the AAI’s statements and actions have dual fallacies.

The first is the AAI’s portrayal of being the representatives of the whole Middle Eastern community in America. Secondly, its allegations of US abuse of Arabs and Muslims, which are false, unethical, and politically motivated. Thus far, Mr. Zogby’s has failed to provide any tangible evidence of its claims and allegations. Therefore, it is only fair to conclude that his objections to the US Administration’s war on terrorism and to the Patriot Act are not due to his concern about Arab-American rights and civil liberties, but rather for his political ideology and financial means.

Political Ideology

Mr. Zogby adamantly opposed the Patriot Act and its associated necessary security measures, which the US Congress overwhelmingly passed to prevent another attack on our soil similar to September 11, on the grounds that such laws discriminate against Arab-Americans and Muslims and harm their civil liberties. For example, on January 6, 2006, Mr. Zogby asked the U.S. government to end its Security Entry/Exit Registration System[2] (NSEERS) claiming that Arabs and Muslims paid dearly for such measures."[3] While these allegations are very serious ones, he failed to have the courtesy to provide a single proof.

Furthermore, Mr. Zogby blindly opposed the US war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan claiming that these wars cannot be justified, despite the fact that 25 million, Iraqis and 18 million, Afghanis have been freed from the tyrant regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Mullahs of the Taliban’s. It seems that, as a committed democrat and as a member of the American Civil Liberty Union (ALCU), Mr. Zogby is obliged to fight the Republican Bush Administration regardless of what’s at stake if the Administration lost its war on terrorism. His objection is ridiculously vicious stretching from election campaigning to spreading anti Bush propaganda. For example, in his article: Why Arab-Americans should vote for John Kerry, published in the Daily Star on October 27, 2004, Mr. Zogby said: I'm a Democrat” and “[t]his November, I will vote for John Kerry for President of the United States. I will do so, confident that it is the right thing to do for my country and my community.”[1] While Mr. Zogby claims that the Democratic Party’s policies better serves the interest and the vision of the Arab-American community at home and in the ME. He, however, fails to mention what President Bill Clinton said before a Jewish audience when he was reaffirming his willingness to defend Israel by asserting: "The Israelis know that if the Iraqi or the Iranian army came across the Jordan River, I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die."[4] Second, Mr. Zogby fails to acknowledge that President Bush is the first and only sitting President to affirm the right of the Palestinian people to govern themselves in an independent state.

Financial Gain

On March 14, 2005, Mr. Jim Zogby sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In it, he complained about the Department of State recognizing the Middle Easter-American communities as such instead of Arabs, for there are some organizations which do not support his political and ideological views. He referred to these organizations as “exiled groups.”

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While he did not elaborate on their status, we find it necessary to explain that these groups are exiled simply because they want freedom and are civil right activists who refuse to live under the oppressive and tyrant regimes in the Middle East. These are the same undemocratic regimes, which back and finance the AAI.

Mr. Zogby went even further to complain about the Director of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs at USAID the Honorable Walid Maalouf asking him “not to label the Arab Community” each according to his/her ethnicity. What Mr. Zogby is seeking here is nothing but a continuation of the annihilation of these Middle Eastern minority groups who suffered death and destructions at the hand of the tyrant leaders of the Arab community which Mr. Zogby
claims to represent.

Mr. Zogby’s own poll contradicts his own allegations and proved that Mr. Maalouf’s conduct is proper and true. In his article, Good news in S. Arabia and Lebanon, published January 3, 2006, you affirmed that in the second half of 2005, Zogby International poll, which covered six Arab countries, found that “[s]ignificant changes are taking place in public opinion, especially in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, which warrant special attention.” Mr. Zogby wrote: "One final area where a dramatic change occurred in
Saudi opinion was in how Saudis identified themselves. In 2002, they indicated a preference to
self- identify as "being Arab". Today, they prefer describing themselves as "Saudi". All this points to
a growing sense of self-confidence, satisfaction and commitment to their country.” He added: “The best news for Lebanon, however, is the degree to which the Lebanese, from all groups, identify with the country — higher than in any other Arab country. When asked to describe their principal identifier, more than 70 per cent say "being Lebanese" — double the number in 2002.”

We should have the courtesy to respect the wish of the people to label themselves as they desire and not as he deems fit. Furthermore, we urge him to take an advice of his own polls. In addition, the AAI mission statement claims that “AAI is a membership organization based in Washington, DC that represents the policy and community interests of Arab Americans throughout the United States…” It will be of great help for the State Department to make a decision regarding his claim had Mr. Zogby defined Arabism.

However, a link on his website does the work for him, which also contradicts Mr. Zogby’s claims. In his article, Arab Identity: E Pluribus Unum, scholar Halim Barakat explains: " The prevailing view is that only a small minority of the citizens of Arab countries does not speak Arabic as their mother tongue and lack a sense of being Arab; this minority category includes the Kurds, Berbers, Armenians, and the ethnolinguistic groups of southern Sudan. Fewer still are those who speak Arabic as their mother tongue without sharing with the majority a sense of nationhood, a trend that may exist among the Maronites of Lebanon in times of conflict. Most other minority groups, such as the Orthodox Christians, Shi'ites, Alawites, and Druze, consider themselves Arabs with some qualifications and
reservations….Yet, most Arabists, especially today in response to the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism, continue to assert the complementarity, if not the synonymity, of Islam and Arabism [sic]."[5]    Accordingly, we believe that Mr. Zogby et. al. should respect the rich diversity of Middle Eastern-American communities by referring to them as such, unless he is referring specifically to the Arab-American small community, which represent only 22% of the Middle Eastern-American communities. In such case, he should be specific and clear.


The AAI claims to be a “non-profit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent.” Such claim is unfounded.

The AAI is not a grassroots organization fighting for the public interest as Mr. Zogby claims, but rather a lobbying group fighting for interest groups, i.e. Arab regimes, which fund Mr. Zogby’s activities, in coordination with the Democratic Party and the ACLU.

Thus, Zogby is misleading the US and the Middle Eastern communities by feeding the public false information and biased studies.

As for blaming the American media and Hollywood for the “misfortune” of Arabs and Muslims, we believe that the American people did their part by accepting the Arab and all other communities in their homeland. Now it is up to these communities to adapt and to adopt the American way of life and its great values.

Regarding President George W. Bush’s policies, the American-Lebanese community stands behind you and supports your war on terrorism, as well as your doctrine to spread freedom and democracy in the greater Middle East region for this is the best gift anyone may offer to our American and Middle Eastern people.

We are Lebanese-Americans, Assyrian-Americans, Kurds-Americans, Aramaic-Americans, and some are Arab-Americans. Therefore, the inclusive, sensitive, and politically correct term to use when referring to all these groups is the Middle Eastern-Americans.

Thus, we ask Mr. Zogby not to label us according to what suits his interest, for we have already labeled ourselves each according to his/her ethnic background.

Assyrians at Their Best


Dr Fuat Celebioglu:  In the Footsteps of a Role Model

Dr. Ninos S Oussi

E D Pellegrino once wrote:  “Medicine is the most scientific of the humanities and the most humane of the sciences.”  A living proof of this thesis is my friend, Assyrian compatriot and colleague, medical doctor, Fuat Celebioglu, whom I proudly introduce in this article.

I meet Dr Fuat Celebioglu on the train, early morning on our way to work.   A doctor’s schedule is always busy and no exceptions were made this time. To save time I interviewed this busy man on the train. Is there any other way you might be more efficient?

A road trip in variety

Fuat is the fourth of six siblings. He was born in Midyat, Turkey, where he went to school until high school. High school was supposed to continue in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. After one year he had to move back home, due to political reasons.  "It was during this time I started thinking of becoming a physician," he tells me.

He graduated from college (gymnasium) in 1976.  He then moved to Germany to stay with his older brother who had lived there for a while with his family. "I had a hard time here, because I had to learn a new language and also complement my Turkish college degrees. During this time I also had to work as a tailor and clothes salesman to make a living."

In the fall of 1979 Fuat enters medical school in Freiburg.  He says: "I was working hard in the clothing business until 1982, when I finished my pre-clinical studies. My brother supported me not only financially, but also enthusiastically, and I have him and my other brothers and sisters to thank for."

In 1982 Fuat begins to work as an undergraduate nurse at the surgery ICU. This was the first step, a work experience that would characterize his future decision of becoming a surgeon.

Fuat graduated from medical school in 1985 and started to practice for one year (German: “praktische jahre”) at Konstans in Bodensee, Germany. During a Christmas vacation 1985-86, when he went to visit some relatives in Sweden, he met his wife to become. Although a Specialist training/job in traumatology in Konstans in Bodensee, he chooses family over career: "My choice took me five years to catch up, but I don't regret any of it," he says with a smile on his face. "I have a wonderful wife and two children."

Back from where he started

Safely in Sweden he now had to learn one more language, to be able to work and live in this new country, in many ways very similar to Germany. The main thing was again to focus on the language, which he did, and finished within half the time. Due to the bureaucracy this was of course something of a disturbance, completing the course before the planned schedule.  The goal-oriented doctor continued his struggle for results.

In the fall of 1986 Fuat graduated with a Swedish medical degree. He began practising for two years before he could get a residency (Swedish for: Allmäntjänstgöring `AT`), one year at Tumba hospital, half a year in the Primary health care, and half a year in a medical clinic at Södertälje hospital.

In 1989, he moved to Helsingborg together with his wife to proceed with his residency (AT) for two years. He was now finished with the doctors id (Swedish: legitimation), a licence for working as a doctor. After the licence he continued to work at the same hospital in the surgery department and finished his specialty training in surgery 1996.

After completing specialty training he applies for a job at the Huddinge University Hospital in Huddinge, Stockholm (today Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge) with a focus in breast cancer surgery, endocrine surgery and oncoplastic surgery.

New evidence, new insight, new dimensions

By this time several positive results was published about a new method of diagnosing and treating breast cancer, the so-called Sentinel node biopsy. This was a less invasive treatment with minor risks for the patients. The first Sentinel node operation in Sweden was made some time after the publications at Karolinska.   Dr Fuat Celebioglu says: " The chief of the surgery unit was very far-sighted and wanted to give this new technique a shot. That’s why we chose to venture on this new method." This was something that later on would show to be a fortunate strike.

What is Sentinel node?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the western world. With a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer estimated to 1 in 10.  More than 6500 new cases were diagnosed in Sweden, in 2005.

The modern treatment of breast cancer combines surgical treatment in the breast (breast saving surgery or mastectomy) with operation in the axial region (armpit) to bring about local control, and also with postoperative adjuvant treatment (hormone and/or chemotherapy) to attain maximal use.

Operation in the axial region means that approximately 10 lymph nodes are taken out mainly for staging breast cancer, but also due to therapeutic reasons in case the lymph node metastasis exists. Lymph node status indicates that further treatment after the operation may be needed. Operation in the axial regions is met with complications. The complication risk develops with extensive operation in this area. During the last few years axial operations have decreased because of less invasive surgery in the armpit when the use of sentinel node biopsy became common. One of the complications that decreased with the new technique was oedema in the armpit-arm area.

One of the most interesting developments in this area is operation through the technique called `Sentinel node` biopsy in breast cancer. The theory behind this idea is that cells from the breast cancer are drained to the axilla according to a certain anatomical pattern where tumor cells reach a lymph node first. This first lymph node, the `Sentinel node`, can be identified and analysed during surgery. If the first lymph node is free from tumor cells, there is no need of extracting any further lymph nodes.

In this way, approximately 60 % of all women which are operated for breast cancer can avoid an unnecessarily operation in the axial region and thus unnecessary complications.

Research at its peak

It was at this time that Dr Celebioglu introduced his research in the Sentinel node-technique. He is also the first in Sweden to focus on this topic. It is remarkable that a man who has travelled through, not only several countries, but several cultures is where he is today, and still is able to continue with a research first in Sweden. A lot of the time put into this research has initially was made outside his working hours. He is now dedicating the final six months to summarize the dissertation.

"The aim of my dissertation is to study the validity of the sentinel node biopsy in breast cancer. So far our results are positive," Dr Fuat says.

His goal is to defend the thesis at the end of 2006 and it will be the first and for now the only dissertation in Sweden about Sentinel node biopsy.  He comments: "My plan is to finish my dissertation and then head back to clinical work. Eventually I might be able to do a post-doc year abroad somewhere."

Interests besides medicine and research

A doctor’s life is not only based on medical work. Dr Celebioglu is of course no exception, rather an evidence of how efficient many colleagues are in their ambition for excellence and humanity. He is the President of the Assyrian Medical Society in Sweden, chairman in ILIS (Swedish: Internationella Läkare I Sverige; a medical society for international doctors in Sweden), active in something called Tillväxtgruppen in Södertälje (Swedish for “The Growth Group”) that works among other things for better business opportunities etc. As many doctors, he also enjoys a game of golf once in a while.

Dr. Ninos S Oussi works at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stochholm, Sweden.  When he is not inspirting Assyrians in Europe, he takes time from his busy schedule to write inspirational essays for Zinda.

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

Fred Aprim California
Dr. Matay Beth Arsan Holland
Annette Babakhan California
James Daniel Canada
Ramin Daniels California
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Raymond George Ph.D. California
Filham Y. Isaac Canada
Youkie Khaninia Arizona
John Michael United Kingdom
Lena Tailo Califonria
William Warda California

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