26 Neesan 6757
Volume XIV

Issue 3

14 April 2008

1- 8 6 6 - M Y  Z I N D A

Main 866-699-4632 | Fax 202-478-0929 | zcrew@zindamagazine.com
1700 Pennsylvania Avenue. NW   Suite 400  Washington, DC  20006  U.S.A.

Rep. Mark Kirk
Rep. Frank Wolf

Click on Blue Links in the left column to jump to that section within this issue.  Most blue links are hyperlinked to other sections or URLs.
The Lighthouse
  EWTN Interview with President Bush on the Christians of Iraq  
  Assyrian Priest Fatally Shot in Baghdad, Alarming Christians
Assyrians Celebrate New Year with a Parade in Nohadra
Assyrians Celebrate New Year with a Parade in Nohadra
Yonadam Kanna on the Murder of Archbishop Rahho
Ancient Babylonian City Unearthed in Diwaniya
Were Assyrian Rulers the Forefathers of Today's CEOs?
First Christian Church in Qatar

Ambassador Crocker Discusses Assyrian Police Force, Refugees on Capitol Hill
CASCA Participates in Reception for House Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East
Assyrian and Chaldean Bishops to Meet Pope in Washington
AAS Statement on Murder of Archbishop Rahho
CASCA Saddened by Tragic Murder of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho
Assyrian General Conference Statement on the Killing of the Assyrian Priest
This Easter, a Church is Being Killed
ACE Release:  European Union Foresees Bigger Future Role in Iraq
France to Take in Iraqi Christian Refugees
Germany to Seek Europe's Backing on Plan for Iraqi Refugees
A Center for Modern Assyrian Studies to be Established at Cambridge University
Assyrian Clay Tablet Points to 'Sodom and Gomorrah' Asteroid
Two Algerian Churches Shut Down for Missionary Work Among Moslems
Ideal Digs for the Dearly Dug Up
Strong Assyrian Supporter in Swedish Parliament Steps Down
Assyrian in Sudan to Publish 2nd Edition of the Business Reference Book
A Day at the Spa for Chicago Seniors, Compliments of Albert Mimi Solon
Student Group Connects Chaldeans

  Assyrian Lobbying of EU Parliament Gathers Momentum
Resistance Rewarded After 6758 Years
The Message of the 6758 Akitu Parade in Nohadra (Dohuk)
Iraqi Christians: Exodus, Ethnic Cleansing & Identity Annihilation
Clichéd Choruses
Photo of the Assyrian Boy at the Ellis Island

Click to Learn More :

  Tanbalkhana Obelit Yadgar
  Demonstration in Brussels on 19 April
Zinda & Gorgias Press Present "Assyrians in Yonkers"
BUKHRO:  The First English-Syriac Dictionary Published
2nd Annual Return to Anatolia Conference
Symposium on Jacob of Sarug & His Times
Polish Researcher Studying Assyrians
St. Basil Scholarship Grows, Seeks Applications
Zinda Recommendations from Gorgias Press
  Khalil Gibran    (part 2 of 2)
Drama of Iraqi Refugee Women and Children in Syria
Why Assyrians Should be Inspired by Malta
Assyrian Attire ... Civilization, Grace and Beauty
Historians, Assyriologists, and Noted Writers have not been Kind...
Gulf a Haven for Christian Communities
Book Review:  Paul Batou's "My Last Thoughts About Iraq"
It is the Death of History
Stan Shabaz
Markus Urek
Emil Brikha
Mary Challita
Anthony T. Nasseri
Fran Gillespie          
Camille-Yvette Weslch
Robert Fisk
  Assyrians in Tehran to Pay tribute to Photographer Yaghobzadeh Tehran Times

Since Our Last Issue
A Chronology of Important Events

Sunday, 9 March Algerian authorities ordered the closure of two Protestant churches in the Algerian city of Tizi Ouzou for alleged missionary work.
Saturday, 15 March The first Catholic church in Qatar is consecrated at Mesaimeer. 
Wednesday, 19 March

An ancient Babylonian city is unearthed near Diwaniyah, Iraq.

France says it plans to give refuge to nearly 500 Iraqi Christians, particularly from the Chaldean Catholic church.

Tuesday, 25 March The Lebanese parliament postponed for the fifteenth time the session to elect a new Christian president. It is now scheduled for April 22.
Tuesday, 1 April Some 60,000 Assyrians join the Assyrian New Year (Kha b'Neesan) Parade in Nohadra (Dohuk), north Iraq.
Saturday, 5 April Father Youssef Adel, 40, an Assyrian prist is gunned down as he is leaving his home in Karrada, a Baghdad neighborhood.
Monday, 7 April Germany says it will seek European Union (EU)'s backing on a plan to resettle tens of thousands of Christians.
Thursday, 10 April In a U.S. House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing US Ambassador Ryan Crocker comments on the formation of a 700-men Assyrian police force in the Nineveh Plains.
Friday, 11 April EWTN Global Catholic Network's Mr. Raymond Arroyo interviews President George Bush and asks him about the situation of the Christians in Iraq.

The Lighthouse
Feature Article


EWTN Interview with President Bush on the Christians of Iraq

The following are excepts from an interview conducted by EWTN Global Catholic Network's Mr. Raymond Arroyo with President George Bush on Friday, 11 April.  Zinda Magazine has selected the parts of the interview related only to Iraq and the Christians of Iraq:

Q    Let's talk a moment about Iraq.  The Pope will no doubt raise this (referring to Pope's visit to Washington this week).


Q    I think his perspective is going to be very different from what we're reading in the newspapers this week.  I think what he'll primarily talk about, and if my sources at the Vatican can be believed, he will probably talk about the 40 bombed churches --


Q    -- 40 percent of the refugees being Christian --


Q    -- he's very concerned about that Christian minority in Iraq.

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.

Q    When he spoke to you in 2007 he raised this.  What is the administration prepared to do for this fledgling remnant of Christianity -- an ancient community there?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, absolutely.  You know, it's something we have been doing all along, is urging the government to understand that minority rights are a vital part of any democratic society.  And by the way, my concern isn't just for minority rights in Iraq; it's for minority rights throughout the Middle East. 

And I have dealt with the Holy Father about -- with not only the issue of Iraq, but also the issue of Catholics in -- and Christians in the Holy Land.  I can remember very well, early in my presidency, I think it was Cardinal Egan or maybe Cardinal McCarrick came to see me about the mosque encroaching on the Catholic -- the great Catholic Church, and would I use my influence with the Israelis to convince them to be mindful of the need for minority rights?  And I said, absolutely.  In my visit to the Holy Land, this recent time, there's a lot of concern about the kind of, the -- I guess, non-acceptance.  I met Sisters that were in the Galilean area that were just serving mankind so beautifully, and yet their leadership was concerned about minority rights.

So my view is like -- Iraq is important, but I've used our influence all throughout the region.  And I've used our influence all throughout the world to promote rights for all religious minorities, including China. 

Q    We saw that Archbishop Rahho, he was murdered in Iraq. This past weekend --


Q    -- an Orthodox priest slain on the doorstep of his home.  Is the administration -- do you believe that this is religiously motivated violence?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I do.  I believe they're -- I believe what they're trying to do is trying to send messages -- "they" being the  killers -- trying to send messages that it's not worth your time, that you must abandon the efforts of helping this free society deliver.  I don't think this is government-sponsored.  I think these are a bunch of thugs and killers who have this kind of dark, dim view of the world, and are willing to kill anybody who's willing to stand up to them. 

And it's not just these religious figures.  There are a lot of innocent men, women and children who are being killed by them, as well.  This is their techniques, this is their tactics, and it's the same type of mentality that caused people to fly airplanes into our buildings to kill 3,000 of our citizens.

Q    What can we tangibly do?  What can the administration tangibly plead with the Iraqi government to do to protect this fledgling minority?  Is there anything we can do?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, one thing we can do is to keep our troops there long enough to have a civil society emerge, and go after them, and go after these killers, and bring them to justice so they quit killing people, including our own troops, because this is a war. 

Q    Would you commit our troops to protecting those communities where they're endangered?

THE PRESIDENT:  I commit our troops to helping the Iraqis provide safety for all innocent Iraqis.  In other words, I -- you got to understand that what you're witnessing is not just an assault on innocent Christians; you are witnessing assault on innocent people of all faiths by a group of cold-blooded killers who want to drive the United States out of the Middle East because they hate free societies.

Q    Even here on Capitol Hill, we're hearing talk of withdrawals.

  They want this drawdown.  General Petraeus is at this very hour saying we shouldn't be doing this, we should have a pause.  What is your take?  Now, even members of your own administration in the Defense Department are saying we might not be able to respond to other events if we have our troops spread this thin.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I disagree with those people.  There's nothing -- the real threat for the 21st century is dealing with these thugs and killers.  They're the ones who attacked us.  We got to defeat them overseas so we don't face them here.  And our people are very well trained to take on these threats.

And so, therefore, my answer is, is that whatever it takes to help succeed.  And to answer your question, the best thing we can do for minorities, particularly Christian minorities, in Iraq, or any minority in Iraq, is to help this society develop into a peaceful society, where minority rights are respected.

Q    You said, famously, when you looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes you saw his soul.


Q    When you look into Benedict XVI's eyes what do you see? 


Q    Good way to end the interview. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, sir. 

Q    Thank you, sir.  My pleasure.

Good Morning Assyria
News From the Homeland


Assyrian Priest Fatally Shot in Baghdad, Alarming Christians

Courtesy of the Washington Post
6 April 2008
By Ernesto Londoño

Father Adel Youssef was gunned down on Saturday in Baghdad.

(ZNDA: Baghdad)  An Assyrian Orthodox priest was fatally shot on Saturday, 5 April, in an upscale neighborhood of the capital, the second such killing in Iraq in recent weeks.

Father Youssef Adel, 40, was gunned down as he was leaving his home in Karrada, considered one of Baghdad's safest neighborhoods, according to a police spokesman and a priest with knowledge of the incident.

The killing came about three weeks after Paulos Faraj Rahho, archbishop of Mosul's Chaldean community, was found dead in that city after being abducted.

A priest in Baghdad said that many clergymen have been threatened but that it was unclear who is behind the attacks.

"The situation is catastrophic for Christians," said the priest, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears for his safety. "In Baghdad, it's the first time a priest has been killed."

Assyrians Celebrate New Year with a Parade in Nohadra

(ZNDA: Nohadra)  On 1 April, the ancient Assyrian city of Nohadra (Dohuk) was the scene of the largest parade organized by Assyrians to date, dressed in traditional customs, waving the Assyrian flags, and chanting slogans of peace, hope, and unity.  Assyrians were celebrating the beginning of the year 6758.  Reliable sources to Zinda Magazine have put the number of participants between 55 and 60 thousand men, women, and children.

Thousands of cars arriving from the Nineveh Plain, Arbil, Kirkuk, and other towns and cities in Iraq caused a traffic jam from the early hours of the day.  Much like the citizens of the Assyrian empire some 4000 years earlier arriving in Babylon to celebrate the Akitu Festival, this year's participants came from many corners of the world - as far as Australia, United States and Europe to be present in the homeland of the Assyrian people and to celebrate the most important day in the Assyrian calendar.

The parade began from the Assyrian Cultural Center in Nohadra (Dohuk) and ended in the highlands of Nohadra where a large crowd of thousands gathered to listen to distinguished speakers from around the world.  Mr. Awrahim Lazar from California, known for his patriotic poems, enchanted the participants by reciting a few of his latest work.  Assyrian entertainer, Walter Aziz, and others performed songs of unity and love for the enjoyment of the thousands sitting in the distance.

Speakers also remembered the murder of Archbishop Rahho in March and the martyrdom of other Assyrian activists, youth, clergy, and ordinary people since the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

The festivities and the parade were organized by the Assyrian Democratic Movement.  Purple flags of the ADM emblem were waving in the wind, along side the Assyrian and Iraqi flags.  Mr. Ninos Baito, former head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, presided over the celebrations.  He was accompanied by other Assyrian and Kurdish delegations.

Zinda Magazine has learned that at least four staff members of the group called the the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Council, led by Mr. Sargis Aghajan, were fired due to their presence at the Akitu celebrations in Dohuk.  The were identified as Michael Yalda Esho, Robena Youkhana, Rivan Nasi Gewargis, Sargon Chaba.  Mr. Chaba submitted his own resignation when the members of the ACSC were instructed not to participate in the Akitu Parade.  

While the al-Arabiya Television broadcast the parade on 1 April, the Kurdish- propaganda television program, Ishtar TV - also in operation under Mr. Sarkis Aghajan, was instructed not to carry any of the Kha b'Neesan parades organized by Assyrian groups working independent of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barazani and Sarkis Aghajan.

Assyrians Celebrating the Akitu Festival (Assyrian New Year 6758) in Nohadra, Iraq

Assyrians in Syria Celebrate New Year

Courtesy of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting
11 April 2008

(ZNDA: Damascus)  As Assyrians celebrated their new year in Syria last week, an organisation representing this Christian minority expressed concern about attacks on members of their community in Iraq and called for more rights inside their own country.

Assyrians, who are the second largest minority group in Syria, ushered in the year 6,758 with celebrations on April 1. Called Akitu, new year’s day was marked in the al-Jazeera area of northeastern Syria with dancing, singing, and the waving of Syrian and Assyrian flags.

The Syrian government did not acknowledge the Assyrian festival, but it went ahead peacefully and without interference from the authorities.

Assyrian organisations issued statements welcoming the new year and expressing concern about the treatment of the minority both in Syria and Iraq. Other Assyrians live in Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus.

The Democratic Assyrian Organisation expressed sympathy with members of the minority in Iraq who have faced "vicious attack”.

Iraqi Assyrians have suffered threats and killings at the hands of Islamic extremists since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. In 2005, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 40 per cent of the Iraqis who had fled the country were Assyrian.

The organisation said these attacks constituted “a malicious plan carried out by dark forces aiming to uproot peaceful people from the land of their fathers and grandfathers".

Assyrians regard Iraq, particularly the northern province of Nineveh, as their homeland.

In Syria, they live mostly in the al-Jazeera area bordering on Nineveh province. The majority still speak the Assyrian language, but it is not officially recognised in Syria.

The Democratic Assyrian Organisation called on the government to recognise Assyrians as an indigenous people in the constitution. The government has not responded to past calls of this kind.

The organisation also asked for official recognition for the Akitu festival, and for more rights for ethnic minorities generally.

Last year, the Syrian Assyrian Democratic Gathering called on President Bashar al-Assad to allow both the language and Assyrian history to be taught in school. It also proposed adding an Assyrian symbol to the Syrian flag.

It said these measures would “do much to curb the emigration of Assyrians and [other] Christians from Syria”.

Many Assyrians and other minorities complain that the country’s Arab identity dominates.

“Minorities feel that their cultures are underdogs,” said a Syrian writer and intellectual who asked not to be named. “They feel that they should make a strong stand against assimilation into the majority, and strengthen their own identities."

An Assyrian cannot become president, for example, because the post must be held by a Muslim.

At the same time, the writer said, Assyrians do enjoy many rights and do not face widespread discrimination in Syria.

He added, "It’s a shame that most Syrians only know the first day of April as April Fool’s Day. Almost no one has heard of Akitu.”

Yonadam Kanna on the Murder of Archbishop Rahho

A report by Fred Aprim from California

On 16 March Mr. Yonadam Kanna, Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) and a member of the Iraqi Parliament, was in Karamlesh (near Mosul) to participate in the special prayers and ceremonies that were prepared on the soul of the martyred Bishop Polous Faraj Rahho. It is a tradition in the Syriac Churches, and other Eastern Churches, to hold special prayers and commemorative rituals on the 3rd, 7th and 40th day and one year of the passing of a Christian.

Martyred Mar Rahho, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Mosul, was an influential symbol among Christians and non-Christians in Nineveh Governorate; he was an Iraqi patriot and a respected religious leader. In his speeches, the late Bishop Rahho defended the unity of Iraq and he made it clear that he was against any efforts to usurp the Nineveh Plains to the Kurdish region. The late Bishop Rahho was the only remaining bishop in northern Iraq who was clear in his messages of rejecting such plans.

Ankawa.com correspondent Tahir Abd al-Ahad conducted a quick interview with Mr. Kanna on March 16.  Read the interview that was conducted in Arabic here.

Mr. Kanna stated:  "We came to Karamlesh to say our last goodbye to our beloved Martyr Bishop Mar Polous Farajo Rahho and to tell him that we are following his footsteps. We are here to tell our enemies that we will not yield or retreat from our struggle for our rights and the fight to achieve our goals. This is our land and our presence is right, just and lawful. Our enemies could neither fright or shake us nor make us give up on our determination to enforce our presence and claim our rights. Our enemies could not sow discord between our Muslim brothers and us. We will follow his [Bishop Rahho] footsteps to the end in order to protect our presence and institute our rights constitutionally on the lands of our Chaldean Syriac Assyrian forefathers. What happened was due to incapability of the security forces in the Nineveh Governorate and it was a unique historic event that had no similarity for many decades. We demand from the Iraqi authorities and the dully qualified to conduct special investigation in this murder, find the perpetrators and the side that is responsible for bringing harm against our Chaldean Syriac Assyrian people. We repeat that the enemy could not frighten us and we will go forward in his [Bishop Rahho] footsteps as he joined the martyrs procession of Yousif, Youbert and Youkhanna, that were murdered by Saddam's regime."         

Ankawa correspondent then asked Mr. Kanna about his role in parliament and government to stop the expulsion, forced emigration or forced relocation of the Iraqi Christians.

Mr. Kanna stated: "The expulsion, forced relocation or forced emigration is confined in two main regions, southeast Baghdad, which was religiously driven and committed by sacrilegious gangs and it occurred in Mosul as well. He added, we will do our best to resist and continue our struggle to gain our rights, maintain our presence and fight for our survival in this country [Iraq]. We are the indigenous people of this country and we have all the rights to be treated as such. However, I regret to say that the Iraqi government is responsible for such crimes, because it is responsible for the safety of its citizens. I also hold the government the responsibility for the policies of dismissals and marginalization, because such policies encouraged such daring and long protracted act against symbols of our people. We will stand together in parliament and government to remove this overreach and prejudice that is being committed against us as we go through the worse periods in the last 1,500 years of our history. He concluded by stating that we will do our best to rectify this reality, defend our rights and symbols and fight for our legal and rightful demands."

Ancient Babylonian City Unearthed in Diwaniya

Courtesy of the Iraq Update and Voice of Iraq
19 March 2008

(ZNDA: Baghdad) An ancient archeological city dating back to the neo-Babylonian era was unearthed in Diwaniya, the province's museum curator revealed, noting the ancient wide city comprised buildings of an advanced architectural nature.

"The Babylonian city was discovered in the district of al-Shamiya, (33 km) west of Diwaniya, where 341 archeological pieces were found during the first stage of excavations that lasted for the month of February," Muhammad Yahya Radi told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).

"The unearthed city is about eight donums (the Iraqi donum equals 2,000 square meters). The artifacts found included weights used by the ancient Babylonians. One of the weighing units was 30 kg, different from previously found granite duck-shaped units that did not exceed 10 kg," said Radi.

He said the archeological finds also included earthenware slabs and numbers of the neo-Babylonian era that experts failed to decipher.

"Most of the specialists have emigrated Iraq due to the deteriorating security conditions in the country, which causes a problem as to detect a very important epoch of the country's ancient history," explained Radi.

He said that also the remains of four persons laid in pottery vessels were found, noting those four were apparently executed.

"We found out about that because one of the bodies had its half buried in a wall and the other in a funerary urn. The other three bodies had iron nails driven into their hands, legs and necks, which indicates that there were strict laws used to be applied in that city," he indicated.

"Among the finds were Babylonian seals, a sign of a coherent ancient Babylonian civilization and its administrative affiliation to the archeological city of Babylonia," which flourished under Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar II but declined after 562 B.C. and fell to the Persians in 539, he said.

Radi added that the museum's archeological mission also discovered statues representing religious practices during that period, in addition to a network to discharge rainwater and waste water designed magnificently and could be compared to the current developed discharging tunnels.

Diwaniya lies 180 km south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Were Assyrian Rulers the Forefathers of Today's CEOs?


Contact: George Hunka
American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Dr. Oded Lipschits, from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology, directs Ramat Rachel, an archaeological dig two miles from the Old City of Jerusalem. Until now archaeologists believed the site was a palace of an ancient Judean king, probably King Hezekiah, who built it around 700 BCE.

But evidence points to foreign rule, says Dr. Lipschits, who believes the site was likely an ancient local administrative center — a branch office — of Assyrian rulers. "They were wise rulers," he says, "using a good strategy for keeping control, stability and order in the region.”

As today's corporations know well, the strategy was all about location. Explains Lipschits, “Between 700 BCE to about 70 CE, Jerusalem was home to various Judean cults and at times a center for religious fanaticism. The Assyrians understood that they could gain better control of their vassal kingdom — and continue collecting taxes — by maintaining a safe distance.”

Where did they set up their branch offices? In the "suburbs." The Assyrians built their economic hub for the region two miles south of Jerusalem at Ramat Rachel. They created elaborate gardens, stocked their cellars with the wine and olive oil they collected in taxes, and quietly but carefully monitored Jerusalem.

“You can see Jerusalem from Ramat Rachel, but when you’re inside Jerusalem’s City of David, you can’t see Ramat Rachel at all,” says Lipschits. “The Assyrians kept a watchful eye, but didn’t let the locals feel a dominant foreign presence.

“It was smart for the Assyrian managers to take a few steps back, and not appear to be interfering with the city’s religious center and local culture. Businesses today could be advised to adopt similar strategies with their branch offices in foreign locations,” he surmises.

Lipschits is currently writing a book about this precursor to today's corporate strategies with Boston College’s Prof. David S. Vanderhooft. He is also the author of the popular book The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem (Eisenbrauns 2005).

First Christian Church in Qatar

Courtesy of the Al-Arabiya
14 March 2008

First church in Qatar opens doors two weeks before Easter.

(ZNDA: Dubai)  Less than two weeks before Easter, Christians in Qatar got their first church on Friday, the first of five that are to be built in the tiny Gulf state, in a move seen by many as another sign of Doha's efforts to open up to the West as it seeks a bid for the summer Olympic Games in 2016.

Last month, Qatar became the first Arab state to welcome an Israeli athlete for a competition, in a move some observers have linked to its attempts to host the Olympics.

Qatar's emir, Sheik Khalifa Al Thani, personally donated the land to build the US$ 15 million church with 2,700 seats in the outskirts of the capital, Doha, church officials said.

"The opening of the church is an important event for the entire community," said Tomasito Veneracion, the priest for the new parish who is from the Philippines. "We are grateful to the Qatari authorities for having allowed its construction."

The church has no cross, no bell and no steeple. “The idea is to be discreet because we don’t want to inflame any sensitivities. There isn’t even a signboard outside the church,” Veneracion added.

According to British daily Times Online Friday, the sweeping £7.5 million saucer-shaped building, a 15-minute drive into the desert, is considered a victory for Qatar’s fledgeling Roman Catholic community, built with the blessing of the Emir. Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Vatican envoy, is flying in to attend its inauguration along with officials from the Qatari Government.

Other Gulf states Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates host churches that cater to hundreds of thousands of expatriates and, in some cases, tiny local communities.

"Bahrain hosts the first church of the Gulf region, founded in 1906 by American Anglican missionaries," boasted Yussef Haidar, secretary of the Anglican church there.

A number of Catholic and other churches have since been built in Bahrain, and services are held there for followers of denominations that do not have their own premises, he told AFP.

Bahrain has about 1,000 Christian citizens, including a woman member of an appointed consultative council. Saudi Arabia does not have any churches.

News Digest
News From Around the World


Ambassador Crocker Discusses Assyrian Police Force, Refugees on Capitol Hill

Waleeta Canon, reporting from Washington D.C.

(ZNDA: Washington)  On April 10, 2008, the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs held a public hearing in which US Ambassador Ryan Crocker answered questions regarding various issues about Iraq.  Along with questions about the recent US surge in troops and how US money is being spent in the country, Mr. Crocker answered several questions pertaining specifically to the Assyrian Christians.

Congressman Frank Wolf

Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), opened with a grim description of what he sees happening to the Assyrians.  In addition to church bombings and general threats to the vulnerable community, he reminded the committee of the kidnapping and murder of the late Assyrian Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho early last month.  The Assyrian Christians of Iraq, stated Mr. Wolf, are unarmed and especially vulnerable to violence, which translates into them being a disproportionate number of Iraq's refugees (upwards of 40% by some estimates).  He asked the Ambassador to report back late next week with a commitment from the Iraqi government to appropriate funding for the refugees, and specifically the Christian refugees.  He also wanted a commitment from the Iraqi government that they would do more to protect the minority.  Ambassador Crocker responded with a firm "yes", and committed to securing both requests.

Congressman Mark Kirk

The second question on Assyrians came from Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL), regarding the twice blocked Assyrian police force in the Nineveh Plains.[1]  Mr. Kirk began his questions by reminding Ambassador Crocker that "the Iraqi Interior Ministry ordered the creation of a local police force for the Assyrians...of about 700 policemen to patrol the Christian villages there...two years after the order the police force doesn't exist.”  He confirmed that Central Command supports the standing order of the Iraqi Government, and the Kurdish Regional Government representative in Washington D.C. committed their support of the order as well.  “The community has issued detailed planning of the police force to protect [themselves]”, Mr. Kirk remarked.  “I don't think we have detailed plans for any other set of villages in Iraq - but we certainly have it for these villages."  Mr. Kirk then expressed his desire to see the police force created and funded quickly.

Ambassador Crocker confidently assured Mr. Kirk that the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Nineveh had informed him the previous evening that the Assyrian police force is now moving forward.  It will be made up of 700 Assyrian Christians from the Nineveh Plains.

“We are happy that the police force issue has moved forward, and we will be working with the relevant actors to certify that the next steps are carried out in a timely manner,” says Michael Youash of the D.C. based Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project.  “We will work to ensure that the police force reflects the decisions of the legitimate representatives who are doing the work on the ground in the Nineveh Plains.”

The Assyrians of Iraq are the indigenous nation and world’s first Christians.  The core of their indigenous homeland is in the Nineveh Plains.  They are currently without a legitimate security force in the area, and this police force will secure the inhabitants along with the thousands of internally displaced Assyrians fleeing from other areas of Iraq back to their native villages.

1. “Kurds Block Assyrians, Shabaks from Police Force in North Iraq. AINA (click here).

Frank Wolf has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1981. He represents Northern Virginia's 10th congressional district. Mark Kirk, Republican congressman since 2001, represents Illinois's 10th congressional district.

Latest Documents from United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq
Emergency Needs Assessment Click here
Minority Religious Groups in Iraq Click here
Iraq Assessed IDPs, Map 1 -  March 2008 Click here
Iraq Assessed IDPs, Map 2 -  March 2008 Click here
UNHCR Syria Update on Iraqi Refugees Click here

CASCA Participates in Inaugural Reception for House Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East

Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America
Contact: Rick Desimone/Glynda Becker


Event to focus on the challenges facing Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East

(Washington, DC) –   On Tuesday April 15, Members of the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America (CASCA) will join Caucus Chairmen, Representative Anna Eshoo (D, CA) and Representative Frank Wolf (R, VA) at the Inaugural Reception for the House Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East.

Other members of the caucus include Representatives Joe Knollenberg, Howard Berman, Ray LaHood, Joseph R. Pitts, and Dave Weldon.  They will be joined by constituents and advocates from several non-profit and religious institutions, including a recent Iraqi refugee, Julet Yousef.  The Inaugural Reception is the capstone of a weeklong series of events bringing advocates from all over the nation to explore the plight of Iraq’s displaced minorities and work directly with Federal policymakers to address the communities’ unique challenges. 

WHO:                           Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D, CA)          
                                      Congressman Frank Wolf (R, VA)
                                      The Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America
                                      Christian Solidarity International
                                      The Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute

WHAT:                        Inaugural Reception for House Caucus on Religious Minorities in the Middle East

WHEN:                        Tuesday, April 15, 2008
                                      Program and Reception begin at 6:00 p.m.

WHERE:                      Rayburn House Office Building, Basement Room 338

Iraq’s true minorities are being driven from their homes and communities all across Iraq.  Tuesday’s event will bring awareness to the violence, economic and social displacement of Iraq’s religious minorities that drove them from their homes in Baghdad and other, once-integrated Iraqi cities.   Iraqi religious minorities will participate in the Caucus Reception along with a screening of a recent 60 Minutes segment that highlights the difficulties Christians are facing in Iraq.

CASCA was formed in 2007 to educate U.S. policymakers on the plight of Iraq’s Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac Christian minorities and to advocate for policies that will support stability, security, aid, and reconstruction relief within Iraq and assistance and resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees of this fragile population outside Iraq.  CASCA joins the Christian Solidarity International and the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute in hosting Members of Congress at the reception.

Assyrian and Chaldean Bishops to Meet Pope in Washington

(ZNDA: Washington)  According to the Office of the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East has been invited to attend the ecumenical service with the Pope on 18 April in Washington.  The Assyrian Patriarch will not be able to attend.  His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis will be present as his representative.  Invitations were sent only to non-Catholic church leaders.

Mor Titus Yeldho Pathickal, the Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar of the Malankara Archdiocese in North America will also be attending.

The Chaldean Catholic bishops serving the two diocese in the United States, His Grace Mar Ibrahim Ibrahim and His Grace Mar Sarhad Jammo, are expected to attend the ecumenical service.  Chaldean Catholic Church maintains full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

AAS Statement on Murder of Archbishop Rahho

Assyrian Aid Society
Michael E Bradley
Administrator, AAS-A


The Executive Committee of the Assyrian Aid Society of America (AAS-A) has issued the following statement:
It is with great sadness that we learned today of the murder of Archbishop Faraj Rahho in Mosul. We join the
rest of the civilized world in condemning this barbarous act and praying for the return of peace to our people's

Murdered Bishop Rahho

Narsai M. David, President
Ashour Yoseph, Vice President
Sargon Shabbas, Treasurer
Ramin Daniels, Director
Mona Malik, Director

The Assyrian Aid Society of America is a charitable organization recognized by the State of California and the
government of the United States of America, dedicated to assisting needy Christian Assyrians in Northern Iraq
and around the world. Over the past 15 years AAS-A has raised over $4 million to, with its sister organization,
the Assyrian Aid Society – Iraq, to build schools, staff and supply medical clinics, facilitate life-saving
surgeries, rebuild homes, irrigate farmlands, bring electricity to villages, and implement a host of other vital
programs and services. Local AAS-A chapters are in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose,
Modesto/Turlock, and Las Vegas.

CASCA Saddened by Tragic Murder of Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho


Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America
Contact: Rick Desimone/Glynda Becker

Despite tragic loss, praises efforts of Congressional Leaders who pushed for his safe return

 (Washington, DC) –   Members of the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America (CASCA) expressed profound sadness and condemned the senseless murder of the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho.  Archbishop Rahho had not been heard from since he was kidnapped on February 29 after celebrating Mass at the Church of Holy Spirit in Mosul.  Despite efforts by the Iraqi and United States government, Faraj Rahho was found dead outside of Mosul.

Iraqi Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly attends a mass marking the death of Paulos Faraj Rahho, the archbishop who was found dead after he was abducted on Feb. 29 by gunmen in Mosul, at a church in Baghdad March 18, 2008. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ)

“This is a sad day for the Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriacs of Iraq and for the entire world of Christianity.  May God help and protect the defenseless people of Iraq” said Jackie Bejan, the Executive Director of CASCA.  “Despite this tragic outcome, we are grateful to the leadership of Representatives Eshoo, Wolf and Knollenberg in reaching out to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice for her urgent appeal to the Iraqi government and increase in U.S. efforts for the return of the Archbishop and safety of the Iraqi Christians.”
On March 6, Representative Anna Eshoo (D, CA) and Representative Frank Wolf (R, VA) sent over a letter to Secretary Rice expressing their concern over the abduction of the 67 year old Archbishop and the senseless killing of his driver and two bodyguards. The letter from Eshoo and Wolf asked Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to “personally ask the Iraqi government to commit any and all necessary resources to ensure the Archbishop’s safe return.”    Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R, MI) requested that Secretary Rice, “make a public statement regarding the kidnapping of Archbishop Rahho.”

 Iraq’s true minorities are being driven from their homes and communities all across Iraq.  Many have returned to their ancestral homeland in Nineveh, and many more have fled the country.  The violence, economic and social displacement that drove them from their homes in Baghdad and other, once-integrated Iraqi cities has followed them to Nineveh.  Today, violence permeates their existence and threatens to erase the presence of these people of antiquity from their ancestral homeland in Iraq altogether.  The senseless murder of Archbishop Rahho, his bodyguard and his driver are just one more example of the threat the Christian minority is living under in Iraq.

CASCA was formed in 2007 to educate U.S. policymakers on the plight of Iraq’s Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac Christian minorities and to advocate for policies that will support stability, security, aid, and reconstruction relief within Iraq and assistance and resettlement of the most vulnerable refugees of this fragile population outside Iraq.  CASCA was formed from the following 4 organizations: The Assyrian American National Federation, The Assyrian National Council of Illinois, The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, and The Chaldean Federation of America.

Assyrian General Conference Statement on the Killing of the Assyrian Priest       


Assyrian General Conference

Due to the fact that our repeated appeals to the Iraqi authorities, to save our people, have fallen on deaf ears, the Christian Assyrians of Iraq have become vulnerable to the escalating campaign of terror, by a yet to be identified wicked group. This group is obviously aiming to drive the Assyrians out of their ancestral homeland. Regrettably, this campaign has been targeting the peaceful and armless Assyrians, while the Iraqi government remains passive and inattentive with regard to their future.

Taking advantage of the said negligence, Rev. Father Yoseph Adel Abboudi, a pastor of our Syrian Orthodox Church in Baghdad, was gunned down and murdered on April 5th, 2008, not long after the kidnapping and murder of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, of our Chaldean Catholic Church in Mosul-Iraq, and most surely by the same terrorist group. Therefore, the Assyrian General Conference (AGC) demands that the Iraqi government assume its responsibility for the protection of the Assyrians as an indigenous ethnicity of Iraq. The AGC, as well, concludes that such passivity on the part of the Iraqi government, inevitably, necessitates the incorporation of the Assyrian question as an Iraqi national liability, and recognizes the AGC’s petition for “The Assyria Federal Region” in Northern Iraq. The AGC, therefore, appeals to the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, and the World Community, to support the AGC’s petition for an Assyria Federal Region, as well as assist in protecting the Assyrians and assure their continuation in Iraq.

The AGC calls upon the Assyrian political factions and people to consolidate their petition and exhibit solidarity in this time of tribulation in order to assert our right of coexistence within the boundaries of a federal region of our own in a part of our historical home, i.e., Northern Iraq.

Finally, our deepest sympathy goes to all our people for the martyrdom of Rev. Father Abboudi. We pray that the Almighty will comfort his immediate family and relatives.

This Easter, a Church is Being Killed

The Catholic Herald
21 March 2008
By Ed West

(ZNDA: London)  Thousands of Christians from across Iraq have attended the funeral of murdered Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho - as the Pope called for an end to the massacres of the beleaguered minority.

The body of the Archbishop of Mosul was discovered near the northern Iraqi city...almost two weeks after Islamists kidnapped the prelate, who was in poor health.

He was found a day after his kidnappers had called Auxiliary Archbishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad to tell them that 65-year-old Mgr Rahho was very ill. "This morning, they telephoned us to say they had buried him," Fr Warduni said, giving the location of the body.

Women cry as they attend a mass marking the death of Paulos Faraj Rahho, the archbishop who was found dead after he was abducted on Feb. 29 by gunmen in Mosul, at a sacred heart church in Baghdad March 18, 2008. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ)

"We still don't know whether he died from his poor health or was killed. The kidnappers only told us that he was dead."

The cause of death is still unknown, and while a mortuary official in Mosul said there were no bullet holes in his body, the Iraqi authorities are treating it as murder.

Iraqi television station Ishtar later announced that the archbishop's body had been exhumed and transported to a mortuary.

Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped in Mosul on February 29 after he first watched as his driver and two bodyguards were shot dead by the attackers.

The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of £1.5 million and demanded that the country's Christians join the insurgency against American forces.

Pope Benedict XVI and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, were among many religious leaders who had called for the release of the archbishop.

After reacting with "great sadness" to news of the death, the Pope called it "an act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human being and seriously harms the... coexistence among the beloved Iraqi people".

In a telegram to Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Pope said that after being informed of "the tragic death" of the archbishop, he wanted to let Chaldean Catholics and all Christians in Iraq know that he is close to them.

On Palm Sunday the Pope called on terrorists to "stop the massacres, the violence, the hatred in Iraq", as he addressed a crowd in St Peter's Square. The Holy Father held a memorial Mass the following day.

Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth, chairman of the Department of International Affairs of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, also paid tribute to Archbishop Rahho in his Easter message.

He said: "The cycle of death and violence, of which Archbishop Rahho was a victim, cannot prevail because we have been created for so much more than death. This is what the death and resurrection of Jesus teach us. But he doesn't just teach us, he invites us, with a brother's love, to die with him and live with him so that his love can come again into our hearts with a power and beauty that no human evil, no culture of death can extinguish."

Mourners carrying the coffin of the Rev. Youssef Adel in Baghdad last Sunday.  Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

The archbishop is the highest-ranking Christian cleric to have been killed since the start of the Iraq insurgency in 2003.

Last June Fr Ragheed Ganni and three deacons were murdered in Mosul after driving home from Sunday Mass. Fr Ganni had returned to his native country from Italy after the American invasion, despite being warned of the dangers. "The situation here is worse than hell," Fr Ganni wrote to a former professor the day before he was killed.

Chaldean Catholics are the largest of Iraq's Christian denominations, among the oldest Christian communities in the world. Half of the pre-war population of 1.2 million have fled the country since the US-led invasion, finding themselves victims of Islamic extremists, kidnapping gangs and Kurdish nationalists alike.

In January Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki assured Mgr Francis Assisi Chullikatt, the Vatican's ambassador to Iraq, that the government was committed to the safety of Christians after six bomb attacks on churches on January 6.

"The most absurd and unjustified violence continues to afflict the Iraqi people and in particular the small Christian community whom the Pope ... holds in his prayers ... in this time of deep sadness," said Fr Federico Lombardi, general director of Vatican Radio.

"This tragic event underscored once more and with more urgency the duty of all, and in particular of the international community, to bring peace to a country that has been so tormented."

Mgr Chullikatt said in an interview with Ishtar television that Archbishop Rahho had led a "life of integrity, a life of testimony to the faith that he was living".

"Christians in Iraq will be called upon to follow the same example so that we can continue to live our faith and be promoters of peace and reconciliation in Iraq," he said.

The death of Iraq's second most senior prelate also led to calls from Iraq's Christian diaspora for greater American protection. Eva Shamouel of the Iraqi Christian charity Assyrian Aid Society said: "This kind of atrocity cannot be brushed off as 'a general security problem', as western governments do when we try to campaign for our political and religious freedoms. This is more proof of systematic, calculated and deliberate persecution of Iraqi Christians.

"The Iraqi government needs more support in order to be able to deal with violence and extremism and western governments need to get their heads out of the sand and recognise that what is happening to this community is no less than ethnic cleansing. Our thoughts are with Archbishop Rahho's family and the family of his driver and two guards."

Dr Suha Rassam, spokeswoman for charity Iraqi Christians in Need, said: "Christians will now be even more in fear of their lives from Islamic fundamentalists. The only way for the Church in the Mosul area to survive might be if it goes underground, like it did in the first and second centuries," she said. "This way, Mass and other services would be held in secret and priests go about their duties clandestinely.

"Over the last eight months, attacks on Christians have been escalating. This is not a situation anyone would want, but the Christian population is living each day in terror of being kidnapped or murdered. When the Church is facing persecution of this magnitude, then desperate measures might have to be taken."

To view  a BBC video report of Archbishop Rahho's killing click here.

ACE Release:  European Union Foresees Bigger Future Role in Iraq


Assyria Council of Europe



Brussels – The European Parliament celebrated its 50th anniversary in its latest plenary session in Strasbourg which took place between the 10th and 13th of March 2008. One of the items on its agenda was a resolution on the European Union’s (EU) role in Iraq after a report prepared by the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The resolution was adopted by the Parliament by a resounding 506 votes for and 25 against, statistics which themselves affirm the importance of this resolution.

The resolution is an important initiative taken by the Parliament and is of specific concern to minorities in Iraq, including the Assyrians. The resolution makes it clear at paragraph J that ‘the EU needs to be more strategic in supporting Iraq in its progress towards becoming a democratic federal state’, a sentence which is important in that it reflects the EU’s acceptance of Iraq choosing to become a federal state.

Of specific importance however are the Parliament’s recommendations to the Council of the European Union. The Parliament urges the Council to adopt with the Commission a new strategy that will help the UN in building a safe, stable and united Iraq which, amongst other things, ‘protects its minorities and promotes inter-ethnic tolerance’. Furthermore, the Parliament urges the Council to ensure that electoral procedures at the local level are strengthened, a factor especially important this year with Iraqi elections coming up. It is hoped that this emphasis on strengthening electoral procedures prevents the voting irregularities which took place in 2005 from recurring so as to ensure fair and free elections for all Iraqis.

Some points of the resolution are of specific concern to the Assyrian minority in Iraq. For example, paragraph 1.g) urges the EU, under its new strategy, to:

“support the reconciliation process, namely on Kirkuk and other internally disputed territories, including the Assyrian areas known as the Nineveh Plains with their Christian minorities; […]

encourage European NGOs to engage with their Iraqi counterparts – which are already particularly active in the Kurdish region – and make extensive use of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) in providing technical and financial assistance to civil society organizations, in order to address the following issues: […] the rights of indigenous peoples and of persons belonging to minorities and ethnic groups, including the Assyrians (Chaldeans, Syriacs and other Christian communities), the Yazidi and the Turkmen;

increase EU support – namely through the Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO) - for NGOs and international organizations in their efforts to alleviate the plight of Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries, as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs), including the 4,000 Assyrian families who have principally sought refuge in the Nineveh Plains; […]”

The Assyria Council of Europe (ACE) has been instrumental in urging the European Parliament to take a deeper interest in Iraq’s minorities such as the Assyrians, and the points in the resolution mentioned above are a product of such efforts. Mr. Ninos Warda, Project Director of ACE, stated the following: “This resolution in general, but particularly the new impetus it gives with regards to the protection of minorities such as the Assyrians, is a welcome and timely development which reflects the EU’s increased awareness and anxiety about the problems faced by Iraq’s minorities at present. ACE hopes that the Council and Commission will act on the Parliament’s recommendations as soon as possible so that the exodus of minorities from Iraq can be halted, thus helping Iraq become a truly pluralistic and democratic federal state. We would also like to thank the members of the Parliament from across the wide range of parties who voted to make sure this resolution is passed.”

It should be noted that the Assyrian community in Iraq is made up of various denominations including the Syriac and Chaldean Catholic churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East, the Syriac Orthodox Church and also Protestant churches.

France to Take in Iraqi Christian Refugees

Courtesy of the Associated Press
19 March 2006

(ZNDA: Paris)  France says it plans to give refuge to nearly 500 Iraqi Christians, particularly from the Chaldean Catholic church.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed the plans in a joint television and radio interview Wednesday. He said he hoped the Iraqis will be in France within weeks.

He said France would not refuse to also grant asylum to Muslims. But he said "no one" is taking in Iraqi Christians and noted that Paris has a community of Chaldeans.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraqi Christians have been targeted by Islamic extremists. The Chaldean church is an Eastern-rite denomination aligned with the Roman Catholic Church that recognizes the authority of the pope.

Germany to Seek Europe's Backing on Plan for Iraqi Refugees

Courtesy of Earthtimes
8 April 2008

(ZNDA: Berlin) Germany is to seek European Union (EU) backing on a plan to resettle tens of thousands of Christians who have given up hope that their ancient community in Iraq can survive, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Monday in Berlin.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has spoken out in favour of taking in a large contingent of the hundreds of thousands of Christians who have fled Iraq to refugee camps in Jordan.

The group, which has lived in Iraq since before Islam and mainly speaks the Aramaic language, complains that intimidation, murder and abductions of Christians have continued, even as violence between Arabic-speaking Sunni and Shiite Muslim factions has declined.

Spokesman Markus Beyer said a German invitation was "mutually conditional" on a joint EU agreement to take in the refugees, but refused to be drawn on how Berlin would react if EU ministers disagreed at an upcoming meeting.

The state of Lower Saxony proposed Monday that the Friedland refugee camp, which accommodates declining numbers of ethnic German immigrants from eastern Europe and Russia, be used as a first home for the Iraqis.

But an official insisted the federal government pay for the use of the camp near Goettingen in that state.

The Catholic and Lutheran churches have pressed for Germany, which opposed the US invasion of Iraq, to take in 20,000 to 30,000 refugees.

German Foreign Ministry data suggests an original Iraqi Christian population of 800,000 had halved by 2005 to 400,000.

Iraq's two main native Christian denominations are the independent Church of the East under Patriarch Dinkha IV, and the Chaldean Catholic Church under patriarch Emmanuel III Delly which is linked to Catholicism.

A Center for Modern Assyrian Studies to be Established at Cambridge University

Afram Barryakoub, reporting from Sweden 

(ZNDA: Stockholm)  An online archive containing a vast amount of information about the Assyrians, an annual conference for academicians to discuss their fresh findings and a full-time professorship in modern Assyrian studies are all parts of a vision now about to become reality.

The idea of creating the Modern Assyrian Studies Center in Cambridge was germinated by Prof. Geoffrey Allan Khan, a well known professor of Semitic languages and a fluent speaker of modern Assyrian; Mr. Nineb Lamassu, Director of the UK-based Firodil Institute; and Mr. Aryo Makko, acting head of the Assyrian Youth Federation in Sweden.

All three, together with Dr. John MacGinnis, a senior fellow in the Near Eastern Archaeology Dept at Cambridge, announced the idea to the Assyrian community in Sweden during the last days of March as a prelude to Akitu, the Assyrian new year festival of life and rebirth.  

Although there are many universities offering studies on the Assyrian history, there is no real home for the modern "Assyrian studies". The envisioned center at Cambridge is expected to change the academic status quo views.  The university's international reputation and its Department of the Middle Eastern Studies with leading researchers in modern Assyrian dialects, make Cambridge an ideal site. 

"I believe this is a missing piece today and once established it will facilitate every student's engagement in the study of the Assyrians and Assyrian-related issues," says Aryo Makko, himself a PhD Candidate in history at the University of Stockholm.

The primary objective of the Center is to create an online archive within the system of the University of Cambridge, thus making it easier for students and researchers to find relevant information. The archive will be maintained by the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge, serving as the central archive for the Assyrian Studies and, from an Assyrian point of view, also as a kind of national archive for the scattered nation.

"We will need Assyrian institutions and individuals to send us copies of whatever they have which concerns Assyrian issues, no matter in which language it is written. We need to archive as much as possible," says Makko.

The archive is the first test for this grand vision and if successful the plans are to advance by having an annual researchers' conference on the Assyrian issues at Cambridge, offering junior scholars the possibility of meeting and exchanging ideas.

The last part of the vision, and perhaps the most complicated, is to eventually seek funds and establish a professorship in Modern Assyrian studies.  "But that's in the future; we are concentrating on the archives for now," says Aryo Makko.

Assyrian Clay Tablet Points to 'Sodom and Gomorrah' Asteroid

Courtesy of the Register
31 March 2008
By Lester Haines

(ZNDA: Longon)  A Cuneiform clay tablet which for over 150 years defied attempts at interpretation has now been revealed to describe an asteroid impact which in 3123 BC hit Köfels, Austria, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction which may acccount for the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah.

According to this Assyrian planisphere tablet, 29 June 3123 BC starts with a bang.

The "Planisphere" tablet (see pic) - inscribed around 700 BC - was unearthed by Henry Layard in the remains of the library of the Assyrian royal palace at Nineveh, close to modern-day Mosul, Iraq. It's a copy of the night diary of a Sumerian astronomer containing drawings of constellations and "known constellation names", but it required modern computer tech to finally unravel its exact meaning.

Alan Bond, Managing Director of Reaction Engines Ltd and Mark Hempsell, Senior Lecturer in Astronautics at Bristol University, subjected the Planisphere to a programme which "can simulate trajectories and reconstruct the night sky thousands of years ago". They discovered that it described "events in the sky before dawn on the 29 June 3123 BC", with half of it noting "planet positions and cloud cover, the same as any other night".

The other half, however, records an object "large enough for its shape to be noted even though it is still in space" and tracks its trajectory relative to the stars, which "to an error better than one degree is consistent with an impact at Köfels".

That a large body had impacted at Köfels had long been suspected, the evidence being a giant landslide 500m thick and five kilometres in diameter. The site had no impact crater to back the theory, but the researchers now believe they have a plausible explanation for that.

The Bristol Uni press release explains: "The observation suggests the asteroid is over a kilometre in diameter and the original orbit about the Sun was an Aten type, a class of asteroid that orbit close to the earth, that is resonant with the Earth’s orbit. This trajectory explains why there is no crater at Köfels.

"The in coming angle was very low (six degrees) and means the asteroid clipped a mountain called Gamskogel above the town of Längenfeld, 11 kilometres from Köfels, and this caused the asteroid to explode before it reached its final impact point.

"As it travelled down the valley it became a fireball, around five kilometres in diameter (the size of the landslide). When it hit Köfels it created enormous pressures that pulverised the rock and caused the landslide but because it was no longer a solid object it did not create a classic impact crater."

Mark Hempsell, hinting at the possible fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, adds: “Another conclusion can be made from the trajectory. The back plume from the explosion (the mushroom cloud) would be bent over the Mediterranean Sea re-entering the atmosphere over the Levant, Sinai, and Northern Egypt.

“The ground heating though very short would be enough to ignite any flammable material - including human hair and clothes. It is probable more people died under the plume than in the Alps due to the impact blast.“

While the biblical fate of the legendary dens of vice (“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah - from the Lord out of the heavens” - Genesis 19:24) sits nicely with the asteroid theory, it's never been categorically proven that they actually existed in their suspected location close to the Dead Sea.

Tales of fiery destruction raining from the skies are not, though, restricted to the Bible. Hempsall told the Times that "at least 20 ancient myths record devastation of the type and on the scale of the asteroid’s impact" - including the Ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, lost control of his dad's chariot and plunged into the River Eridanus.

A translation of the Planisphere and the researchers' findings can be found in the book A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels' Impact Event. The tablet is object number K8538 in the British Museum collection.

Two Algerian Churches Shut Down for Missionary Work Among Moslems

Courtesy of the Al-Arabiya
Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid
18 March 2008

(ZNDA: Paris)  Algerian authorities ordered the closure of two churches in the Algerian city of Tizi Ouzou last week for alleged missionary work, according to recent press reports.

The latest closures are a part of an intensive campaign to uncover conversion efforts in many Algerian provinces, especially tribal areas, resulting in 10 churches receiving orders to close since November.

Ministers of the two Protestant churches in Tizi Ouzou, 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Algiers, were summoned by the authorities and charged with engaging in illegal practices.

They will hold an emergency meeting to discuss ways of resolving the issue with the authorities, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Monday.

Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs, Bouabdallah Ghulamallah, said the latest closure was ordered under the new 2006 law which limits non-Muslim worship to specific buildings approved by the state.

The law, which also forbids non-Muslims from seeking to convert Muslims, was prompted by what officials have described as an increase in the activities of Christian evangelical sects.

According to authorities, churches establish places of worship in remote areas, luring Muslims to convert to Christianity by offering them money and jobs in Europe.

Ghulamallah said the churches would reopen as soon as they obtained the required permits.

In an earlier statement, Ghulamallah called the Anglicans in Algeria "outlaws" and accused them of trying to establish a non-Muslim minority in the country to pave the way for foreign intervention under the pretext of religious persecution.

There have been conflicting reports about the number of Christians in Algeria, which is almost totally Muslim. According to officials, around 11,000 Christians, including expatriates, live in the country of 33 million.

But other sources say the number is much higher, attributing the increase to missionary activities.

The tension reached its peak a month ago when Algerian authorities asked the American bishop Hugh Johnson, 74, to leave the country after his residency expired. Johnson, who has been living in Algeria for more 45 years, filed a lawsuit and demanded the revocation of his deportation decree.

Ideal Digs for the Dearly Dug Up

Courtesy of the Australian
12 March 2008
By Jill Rowbotham

(ZNDA: Melbourne)  Resurrecting the Australian Institute of Archaeology has been a full-time job for Christopher Davey since his appointment as the collection's director in 2002. That there has been an excellent outcome is due to his unusual qualifications for the job: a devotion to archeology, including degrees from Cambridge and the University of London, and years of financial experience from his career with the National Australia Bank.

Now it has been possible, courtesy of La Trobe University, to arrange a 20-year lease in a 1920s building adjacent to the university's Bundoora campus in Melbourne's northern suburbs. Fair enough, too, given the university claims Australia's largest archeology program.

Among the treasures which had spent nine years in storage are cylinder seals - each about the size of a finger - which date from about 3000BC.

The oldest artefacts include flints from 6000BC, or earlier.

Perhaps the most spectacular is the gypsum stone tablet on which the Assyrian king Assur-nasir-pal II recorded his genealogy, titles, and conquests from 883BC-859BC.

"The bulk of the collection was together by about 1960, during the period when it was still legal to obtain objects," Mr Davey said.

By the end of the '60s that relatively open-handed approach had come to an end, but it still left the institute with a collection of some 10,000 significant archeological objects.

Other collections on a par are the University of Sydney's Nicholson Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria's antiquities collection.

Mr Davey is reluctant to discuss its exact monetary value given the boldness of thieves. "It's a lot," he said.

It was founded in 1946 as an organisation to facilitate and monitor the scientific study of the biblical period.

It was housed in Ancient Times House in Melbourne's Chinatown until 1999 when it was mothballed and dispersed to warehouses around the city.

The museum is open three days a week, staffed by volunteers and includes a research library.

It promises to be a rewarding experience for students of places in the Middle East such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria and ancient Israel with a special interest in the history and technology of pre-Byzantine artefacts.

Strong Assyrian Supporter in Swedish Parliament Steps Down

(ZNDA: Stockholm)  On Sunday, 16 March, Ms. Margareta Viklund, chairwoman of the Swedish Committee for Assyrians, handed over the leadership of her committee to Ms. Annelie Enochsson, a member of the Swedish parliament and a staunch supporter of Assyrian rights. 

Viklund has been a vocal voice for the rights of the Assyrians for many years in Sweden, working tirelessly to make the fate of the Assyrians known among the public. 

Aware of the oppression faced by Christians living in Moslem countries in the Middle East, the Assyrian question has been one of Viklund's major interests in life, pushing for the acknowledgment of this Christian minority.

Her latest effort was a trip to northern Iraq, where she first-hand witnessed the mistreatment of the Assyrians and the sophisticated political oppression financed and maintained by the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Masud Barazani.   She was immediately attacked by Assyrians working for Mr. Barazani for her views on the oppression of Assyrians living in the KDP territories.  Ms. Viklund's response was published in Zinda Magazine.

Ms. Viklund, rightly so, is revered by the Assyrian community in Sweden and her decade long effort is admired by the Assyrian rights groups around the world.

The Swedish Committee for Assyrians which she established with others is continuing its work in improving the condition of the Assyrians in northern Iraq.

Assyrian in Sudan to Publish 2nd Edition of the Business Reference Book

(ZNDA: Washington)  Zinda Magazine has learned that Mr. Paul Hormez Azzo, CEO & General Manager of DIA Media Center in Khartoum, Sudan, will soon publish the second edition of the popular reference book:  Directory of Major Companies in Sudan.

Zinda Magazine received a copy of this book earlier this year.  The quality of its print, photographs, layout and breadth of information presented was immediately noticed.  It is in A4 size with 376 pages and over 250 colored pictures.  The country of Sudan is profiled in 35 chapters and 187 pages.

The second edition is titled "Sudan: Reference Book & Major Companies 2008".  To learn more click here.

A Day at the Spa for Chicago Seniors, Compliments of Albert Mimi Solon

A report by Helen Talia from Chicago

(ZNDA: Chicago)  This year, Easter came early to the senior citizens of the Chicago Assyrian community.  An approximate fifteen members from the Peterson Park Health Care Center (Pulaski and Peterson) in Chicago were visited by Albert of Albert Mimi Salon, and his team of professional stylists where residents received hair cuts and styles just days before celebrating Easter.

Albert Mimi is a celebrated hair designer in and out of the Assyrian community.  His styles have been featured in this year’s edition of Passion magazine.

In a telephone conversation following the March 17th event, Albert expressed his joy of having given back to the community, and what better way than to service the elders.  He said “the seniors received top-of-the-line pampering and care, and they were very excited to receive us.”  Jackie, a host at Albert Mimi Salon shares “I met some of the strongest and most proud people from the Assyrian community.  I will never forget their faces, or their voices.”  Albert has pledged to continue to serve the senior community once every month.

Launching “A Day at the Spa with Albert Mimi” is just one of the many community development and outreach programs that the Assyrian American National Federation is embarking on.

This service was mediated by the Assyrian American National Federation, Midwest Region, and provided by Albert Mimi Salon, located at 4140 W. Dempster Street, Skokie, IL 60076.

Student Group Connects Chaldeans

Courtesy of the State News
By Stephanie Goldberg
9 April 2008

Alvin Coda, a second-year medical student and member of the Chaldean American Student Association blows out smoke from a hookah Wednesday at Chaldean Day. The event, held at the rock on Farm Lane, had four hookahs lent to the group by Blue Midnight Hookah Lounge, 330 Albert Ave., along with henna tattoos to attract people to the event.

(ZNDA: Detroit)  For Magen Atisha, there’s more to being Chaldean than tabouli and baklava.

Being Chaldean is about family and faith, the prenursing sophomore said.

“I have over 70 first cousins, and I am just as close with them as I am with my own brothers and sisters,” she said.

Family and faith were values discussed Wednesday among members of the Chaldean American Student Association, or CASA, chapter at MSU, which debuted on campus in 2006.

In two years, CASA membership increased from eight to about 50, and the organization will continue to grow with the increasing presence of Chaldean students at MSU, said Fabian Gammo, president of the group.

Gammo said because there finally are enough participants, the group can begin doing more volunteer work and help raise money for a refugee program through the Chaldean Federation of America, which provides displaced Chaldeans from Iraq with the necessities to survive.

“Lots of families have had to move to other Middle Eastern countries because of the war and they have no food or clothing,” he said. “We want to help them. Those are our people back home.”

Biochemistry freshman Ruba Jiddou said one reason she chose to join CASA was the group’s fundraising efforts.

“My dad’s side of the family lives in Iraq, so this directly affects my family,” she said.

Jiddou’s lack of affiliation with other Chaldean students growing up is the other reason she decided to become involved.

“I’ve never been friends with many Chaldeans,” she said. “I always had a lot of American friends, and being part of CASA allows me to socialize with people who are similar to me.”

In addition to their work for the refugee program, the group also volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club of Lansing to set an example for 5- to 12-year-olds and help with homework and arts and crafts, Atisha said.

Gammo said he is proud of the ground the organization is breaking by providing services and raising money for those in need, as well as getting Chaldean students together to celebrate and learn about their culture.

“Culture is a really important part of being Chaldean,” Gammo said.

“Being able to share that culture with people who don’t know a lot about it is important.”

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Assyrian Lobbying of EU Parliament Gathers Momentum

Eva Shamouel
Great Britain

From left to right:  Mr. Hannu Takkula MEP, Dr Susanna Kokkonen, Mr. Ninos Warda at the European Parliament's seminar "Persecuted Christian Minorities".

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) organised a seminar in the European Parliament on Wednesday the 5th of March on the topic of Persecuted Christian Minorities. One of the speakers was Mr. Ninos Warda, the Project Director of Assyria Council of Europe (ACE), a body established to lobby for the protection of economic, social and political rights of Assyrians in post-Saddam Iraq.

Mr Warda’s presentation was poignantly entitled "Assyrians in Iraq: From Liberation to Annihilation". After giving a brief background of the history of Iraqi Assyrians, Mr Warda gave examples of persecution both before and after Saddam Hussein’s regime. This included the Ba’ath regime’s Arabization policy when censuses obliged Assyrians to choose between an Arab or Kurdish nationality. He also described the often overlooked effect the Anfal campaign had on Assyrians. According to the International Federation for Human rights, 1,000 Assyrians went missing and 196 Assyrian villages were destroyed.

Since 2003, the Assyrian population of Iraq has decreased dramatically and disproportionately due to continued persecution and increased instability. One in three Assyrians are now refugees. Mr Warda cited UNHCR’s July 2007 report which states that Christians from Iraq now constitute 15 and 20 percent or refugees in Jordan and Syria respectively.

The types of persecution fall under many categories. Assassinations, kidnappings and intimidation are rife; religious and political representatives of Assyrians have been targeted; businesses have been attacked, churches have been bombed (40 since 2003, killing and injuring dozens of people). Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq have also been the victims of electoral fraud. Mr Warda reported that in the 2005 Iraqi election at least 100,000 Assyrians were prevented from voting in the Nineveh Plains area.

The best solution to prevent further annihilation in Mr Warda’s view should be a three way one, namely, through humanitarian aid; strengthening of security; and legitimate governance. Aid is needed in order to assist affected communities to remain in Iraq but it should also be given to specifically targeted areas such as the Nineveh  Plains as the towns and villages here receive a huge influx of IDPs. In terms of security, Mr Warda recommended that as the Iraqi Security forces are under immense strain, it should train and equip members of minority communities to protect themselves. In fact, two attempts were made in 2005 and 2006 by the US, in conjunction of Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior to create a local police force for the Nineveh Plains but unfortunately both attempts were blocked.

The third, and probably the most important solution for the long-term is the question of governance. Mr Warda cited Article 125 of the Iraqi Constitution; “This Constitution shall guarantee the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights for the various nationalities, such as Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrian, and all other constituents, and this shall be regulated by law”. Constitutional experts agree that this provision was inserted to protect minorities in Iraq and calls have already been made for the creation of an administrative unit in the Nineveh Plains where the majority of the population are Assyrian Christians.

Among the Iraqi proponents of the creation of an Administrative area for minorities are Vice President Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, member of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution; Ameen Jijo, a Yezidi Member of the Iraqi Parliament, Dr Hunain al-Qaddo, a Shabak and Chairmen of the Iraqi Minorities Council (IMC); and the Assyrian Democratic Movement with the support of all attendees at the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian General Conference in October 2003, Baghdad.

All in all, it was a very constructive day and I came away feeling that although Mr Warda has only freshly been appointed to this position, he has already proved himself as being more than capable of making significant achievements. There was some positive feedback by the hosts and in particular from MEP István Szent-Iványi which lead the participants to really feel that these issues are going to be put on the EU agenda as a matter of urgency.

Indeed, a few days later, the EU Parliament adopted a new resolution (click here) about the EU’s future role in Iraq but with some points being of specific concern to the Assyrian minority in Iraq. It offers recommendations to the Council and Commission of the EU on a new strategy in Iraq. As a community we need to act concertedly to make sure our lobbying is most effective. If you live in Europe, please write to your MPs and MEPs to ask them to put this issue on their agendas and to act on the resolution. Also, financial donations you can give to ACE will make it much easier for them to continue to do the job they are doing. It’s a very small investment for what will hopefully be a very big yield in the long term for the benefit of our people.

At the start of the seminar, we were treated to a song by Finnish gospel band, EXIT, lead by Mr Pekka Simojoki. He had written the song after seeing a statue in Rome of a young 3rd century martyr, St Cecilia. He told us of her bravery and defiance in the face of death. Two thousand years after St. Cecilia’s time, I would like to dedicate Mr Simojoki’s song to Archbishop Paulous Faraj Raho.

by Pekka Simojoki

I want to sing and tell this story.
It's a song I made for you.
It's a song of tears and glory,
I want to tell what faith can do.
You took your cross, you did not bend.
You walked your way right to the end.

I want to light my torch with fire,
that will never, ever die.
I want to stand and lift it higher,
I want to shout, I want to cry.
Your life and soul were torn apart,
but they never got your heart!


Still today you keep on shouting
stronger than I've ever heard.
To my heart so cold and doubting
you can speak without a word.
We need courage from above,
we need faith and hope and love.

Resistance Rewarded After 6758 Years

Helen Talia
Nohadra, Iraq

Despite the increasing scare tactics against the minorities of Iraq, the Assyrians proved that determination is the power behind their earnest rights to stay and fight for their ancestral homeland, Assyria.

Assyrians arching through the city of Nohadra (Dohuk) in celebration of the Assyrian year 6758.

Northern Iraq, in the province of Dohuk, the city was awakened to a beautiful sunny day on the first of April (Assyrian New Year's Day) as the streets flooded with flags and chants carried by thousands of marchers which gathered from every major city to the smallest village to participate in Akitu, celebrating the 6758th Assyrian year.

Akitu marks the beginning of life and fertility from the time of ancient Sumer as goddess Innana and her husband Demuzzi chose New Year’s Day, an auspicious time of new beginnings (spring) for their marriage, representing fertility, creativity and abundance which brought balance and harmony to the people of Sumer.

This year especially was an important one for the Assyrians to commemorate Akitu honoring their heritage that has spanned for thousands of years in the Mesopotamian land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that has cradled the beginning of civilization, from The Garden of Eden, Gilgamesh, to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 

In spite of the random and the selective killing sprees that have taken their toll on Iraq, on this day the world televised a nation celebrating life  (khayouta) and re-birth (khoudatha). On this day of pilgrimage, many Assyrians came to pay their respect to their ancestral homeland from neighboring Middle Eastern countries, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iran.  Others came from Europe, Australia, Canada and United States.   

The celebration was made possible by the efforts of the Assyrian Democratic Movement which organized hundreds of buses into remote villages to transport families to Dohuk to participate in the Akitu festivities.  Over 45,000 people marched in the parade.

The Message of the 6758 Akitu Parade in Nohadra (Dohuk)

Fred Aprim

I waited anxiously to watch the Iraqi al-Iraqiya Satellite TV station after learning that it was going to broadcast live segments from the Assyrian New Year (Akitu) festival from Nohadra (Dohuk) on the morning of April 1, 2008 (Baghdad Time). Then when the coverage began, I was all ears and eyes; I did not want to miss one clip or one word. Later that day, I began to look at pictures from the parade/festival that became available on various Assyrian Internet media outlets.

I went out for a drive that night and all I could see flashing on both sides of the highway were images and faces of the 60,000 heroes who turned out to celebrate this national day of Kha b' Nisan 6758. The faces of babies or toddlers that were in their strollers and those of young boys and girls, middle aged, and mostly of those beloved elderly men and women are wedged in my mind for eternity.

I pondered and asked myself: what do the pictures of the Nohadra (Dohuk) Assyrian New Year 6758 parade that was organized by the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) tell us? The pictures assert the absolute fact, which is that our people in Iraq love the land of Assyria (modern Iraq) and that many have decided to stay on the land of the forefathers despite all the hardship and life threats. The Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans, Jacobites, Suryanis, Nestorians and ChaldoAssyrians) delivered the massage that they are the original people of Iraq, they are alive, and that they are not going anywhere. They demanded recognition and the right to live free and dignified on their historic lands and the lands of their ancestors. Sixty thousand heroes said no to fear, no to division, and no to submissiveness. The pictures tell us undoubtedly that the majority of the Syriac-speaking Christians of Iraq supported the ADM; they have supported the ADM in 1992 northern Iraq Kurdish regional elections (won 4 out of 5 seats in the regional parliament), they supported the ADM in the two Iraqi national elections of 2005 (won 85% of our people's vote) as they continue to support the ADM today.

On the other hand, Sargis Aghajan, Minister of Finance in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and his so-called Ankawa Council (motwa) tried hard to stop and/or undermine this parade. Aghajan gave his orders to his Ishtar TV not to broadcast the event. This presumed Assyrian Satellite TV station (and California based AssyriaSat satellite TV station as well) did not broadcast even one moment of this Assyrian national festival. Amazingly, there are still some people out there who doubt that Ishtar TV is a Kurdish propaganda machine. The Ankawa council, which is SELECTED by Aghajan and approved by the Barazani regime, realized that they were going to subject themselves to great embarrassment if they ran their own parade. They have been working hard to set up their own parade, but realized that they did not have the bodies necessary to exhibit a decent march despite the millions of dollars they have been spending to buy people's support. Therefore, on March 27, 2008, the Ankawa council issued a statement in which it announced that the council leadership had decided to cancel their parade because of the murder of martyr Bishop Polous Faraj Rahho. Nice try! I am absolutely sure that if Bishop Rahho was alive, then He would never have approved that a parade that calls for unity, peace, love and progress of people be cancelled, regardless of circumstance. I think that the spirit of martyred Bishop Rahho is joyful today seeing the faces of the 60,000 heroes out there participating in a parade for freedom, peace, love, unity and liberty. 

Additionally, reports from northern Iraq indicate that Aghajan and/or his advisors sent their operatives to many Assyrian towns and villages, knocking on doors and telling people that if they participated in the parade that was organized by the ADM, they would lose their share of the KRG monthly ration. Furthermore, clergymen from several churches that are present in the Kurdish region and that are influenced by the Kurdish authorities, ordered their parishioners not to participate in the parade. Well, more people turned out in this year's Akitu parade than that of last year or even those of the years before. More recent reports on the Internet indicate that Aghajan's council suspended the membership of certain Assyrians that went against the directions of Aghajan and his council and participated in the parade, thus lost the only source of income that they had to support their families.

We must understand that the ADM is a grass root movement, which gets its strength from the people. History teaches us that movements that have the people behind them never die and are destined to go forward. True movements will face setbacks due to hurdles, which are mostly planted by the enemy and that is expected. So for those Internet chitchat losers who have lately been gossiping that the ADM was finished as a political organization, I say: Open your eyes and ears, then watch and listen to the message of the 60,000 heroes.

On April 2, 2008, Ashur TV showed clips from the 6758 Nohadra parade/festival and conduced a couple of phone interviews. One such interview was live from Iraq with Raabi Ishmael Nanno, a previous member of the ADM Central Committee. Raabi Nanno spoke eloquently about the activities of the ADM. He stated that the ADM pockets were not filled with enough money to buy people's support. He stated that the ADM, as the ELECTED representative of the ChaldoAssyrians, gives the people a true independent voice in Iraq. He added that there were actual orders by some "kurdistani" Assyrians given to people not to attend the parade. He emphasized that the impressive turnout was despite the lack of funds needed to hire more buses to bring more people from far away places. Scores of Assyrian families had planned to participate in the parade, but could not afford the travel expenses. Raabi Nanno also stated that the members of the ADM were not working to secure a ministerial position or be in parliament, as few claim. He explained that when the ADM first joined the Kurdish regional parliament to represent the Assyrian voice, they were heavily criticized by some for supposedly selling out. Yet, today, those same criticizers are more "kurdistanis" than Kurds themselves.

Let me say that the Nohadra parade was a message to the world that the Assyrian people are alive, that they will not accept submissiveness, that they will continue to fight for their rightful and legal national rights, and that they will stay in Iraq, their ancestral home. The message was clear in that our people in Iraq want unity and peace and that they are against the division caused by the churches and by few wannabe nationalists and their paper-like organizations. The Nohadra parade was a message to all the weak at heart Assyrians and all those who are working for the enemy that the ADM is and will be the only representative for the Assyrians in Iraq since the 2005 Iraqi national elections instituted that. The parade was a slap in the face of KRG ministers Sargis Aghajan, Nimrod Baito, Romeo Hakkari, and George Mansour and few others; it was a message to them that they could enjoy their personal prosperity and positions, but they have nothing to do with the Assyrian people. The parade was a message to the Kurdish leadership and Barazani as well. The message was that the millions of dollars the Barazani regime was spending to undermine the true Assyrian leadership and Assyrian institutions would not work. It would be a better policy by Barazani to deal fairly and justly with the real and legal representatives of the Assyrian people. Barazani must understand that selecting and then presenting few Assyrian puppets as Assyrian representatives does not serve the Assyrian-Kurdish relations best. The earlier Barazani understands and then accepts this fact, the better it is for both peoples future in Iraq.     

In conclusion, I would like to say may God bless our people in Iraq; they have proven time and again that they will not fall in the trap of Barazani's regime and his KDP, Aghajan, Ankawa's SELECTED council, AssyriaSat contemptible slogans, Ishtar TV Kurdish propaganda or in the trap of few other groups or individuals here and there. The message from the parade was thunderous and transparent and I invite every genuine Assyrian soul to take a moment, be truthful to himself/herself and listen to it, because in it is the Assyrian salvation.

Iraqi Christians: Exodus, Ethnic Cleansing & Identity Annihilation

Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

In Bagdad on Saturday (5 April 2008), another innocent Iraqi clergyman fell victim to the on-going persecution and ethnic cleansing of Christians in Iraq. Iraqi security sources announced that a group of unknown armed men gunned down Father Youssef Adel Aboudi, a Christian priest with Saint Peter's Assyrian Orthodox Church. He was murdered while on his way to the church which is located in the centre of Baghdad.

It is worth mentioning that last month, the body of Paulos Faraj Rahho, Chaldean Catholic archbishop of the Iraqi city of Mosul, was found in a shallow grave in the northern suburb of the city, two weeks after he was kidnapped. During Rahho's kidnapping by terrorists, three of his escorting deacons were murdered in cold blood. It is of great concern that Iraq's Christians, with the Chaldean rite the largest community, which were said to number as many as 800,000 before the American Liberation of Iraq nearly five years ago, is believed to have dropped to half that figure.

The Muslim fundamentalists in an apparent and avert venomous scheme masterminded, financed, orchestrated and executed by the Axis of evil countries and their armed terrorist tools (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah), as well as by Al Qaeda global armed militias, are all adamant to force the exodus or eradication of the Iraqi Christians.

What is going on in Iraq is an organized and systematic ethnic cleaning, targeting its historic Christian communities while the whole world is silent and indifferent.

We repeat our urgent call that was made last month after the heinous murder of Archbishop Rahho and his deacons. We again call on all the free world countries, in particular the United States, moderate Arab countries, the European Union, Canada, Australia, and Russia, to end their shameful silence and come to the rescue of the Middle East Christian communities, especially the Iraqi Christian communities, before it is too late.

The United States and the rest of the world should know that elimination of Middle East Christian communities will put terrorist and fundamentalist criminals, with their savage anti-humanity plots and their sharpened swords of hatred, in complete control in those countries. If the West remains silent and indifferent while the Christians in Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon and other middle East and Muslim countries are being eradicated from their own historic lands, the near future will bring many more days like September 11, 2001 in many Western countries.

The civilized communities of the world should understand that by defending and protecting the Christian communities of the Middle East, they will be defending and protecting their own national security. They should not sit idle, watching from a distance under the false belief that they are safe, while the education of death, suicide, hatred, intolerance and fanaticism is destroying the Middle East, and spreading. This kind of education, spearheaded by Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and the other terrorist and fundamentalist groups, must be totally uprooted, while its sponsors, protectors, advocates, proponents and financiers are brought to justice and put on trial on charges of premeditated murder against civilization and humanity.

As far as Iraq is concerned, it has become more than necessary for the Iraqi government, the United States, Britain, moderate Arab neighbors and the United Nations to take full and  immediate action to end the horrible suffering of Iraqi Christians. Their safety and welfare is not a favor from anybody, but rather a holy duty and a national obligation that the whole world is ought to fulfill.

While we remind the world that the peace loving Lebanese people and their troubled country, Lebanon, are still the victims of this Iranian and Syrian satanic culture of death, fundamentalism and terrorism, we pray that Almighty God will grant the Iraqi Christian communities all the needed faith, hope and perseverance to enable them to endure with love and forgiveness this on-going nightmare that has been mercilessly targeting their peaceful people.

The Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council, (LCCC) offers the Iraqi Christian Churches, communities, and father Aboud's family and friends its warmest heartily felt condolences. We ask Almighty God to grant them all patience, solace, and courage to endure this great loss with a forgiving spirit and solid faith.

We pray that the Father Aboudi's soul is now resting peacefully in heaven alongside all the other Saints and Angels.

Clichéd Choruses

Helen Talia

Clichéd choruses about Kamareh, and Pousheyeh are sounding a little bit redundant these days. Songwriters should pick a new topic to write about, and I say this with all sincerity. As for singers flooding their albums with folklore from protégé topics, look around, there is beauty everywhere in Assyria. Even the most interesting song is passé in concept. Just how many songs do we need about generational pride? Well, whatever that number is, apparently songwriters think it just isn’t enough.

Catering to the "icon" wannabe movement isn’t the way to go either. It's not hard to imagine what a "souvenir song" could be talking about in an album… "shoohara parsoupaya." What's even worse is that songwriters seem to think this philosophy represents their generation.

It's not clear whether such musical productions reflect a singer trying too hard, or a writer having tremendous influence over a singer. Is it just being lazy, or plain crazy? Either way, the music can be summed up as simply mediocre.

In the continued envelopment of the unity among the Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Syriacs, illustrating the traditions of other Assyrian regions in a song could stand a chance. Perhaps even the harmony that is craved for in our church should be addressed in the Assyrian song, instead of throwing a blanket over it, taking sides, and shunning each other. The fact is our song has reached a plateau. It is merely floating atop still waters.

Songs, lyrics, and music are some of the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. They should reflect not only the artist’s style, but the current state of our existence as a people. The Assyrian nation is facing extinction in Iraq, and our song must personify the crisis that beholds us in Iraq ~ kidnap, rape, assassination, exodus. Eventually, this crisis may very well tip over into other neighboring Middle Eastern countries that historically share Assyrian land, i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Iran.

In the last month or so, I have traveled through cyberspace of some fifty artist websites, blogs and myspaces. Not a single one addresses the existing circumstances of the very nation that they sing about.  Who are we kidding?  No one lives in a bubble world. Last week’s demonstrations in Ankawa, Kremles, Baghdeda, and Bartilla, following the kidnap and killing of Archbishop Rahho were a cry for help. This was not an isolated incident, but the reality of our present. Why do we keep missing the mark? Martyrdom is never in vain; for even in death we should be birthing opportunities. How we act today will shape the future of our nation. We must be careful in how we choose to write our history.

Look around, artists like Sting (previously with the group "The Police"), or Ireland U-2's frontman Bono, the twice nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism in third world countries.  Lebanese Fairuz and Majida El Roumi have stared death in the face and called it what it is... death. They have chanted to Lebanon’s glory, calling to an end to civil war and a union between the Christians and Muslims, even when Beirut’s streets were quenching blood. These artists have inspired governments and shaped history.

Having the ability to reach mass audience, an artist can represent his nation, demand changes in politics, restore peace, end famine, educate her generation, and bring balance to an unstable country.

The challenge is how closely aligned is our song with the predicament that our nation finds itself in?  Being that a song is the fastest transit between a subject matter and the audience, more and more songs should reflect the ideologies of our nation.  The time is ripe to call on our musicians to use their talents with due diligence, and to give back to the community, instead of viewing their careers as simply cash cows.  Here is your chance to step up to the plate to save the Assyrian song and embellish history.

Photo of the Assyrian Boy at the Ellis Island

Marcel Josephson

Photo of Mr. Maljan Chavoor displayed at the Ellis Island.

My boss recently visited the Ellis Island (just outside New York) where some 5,000,000 immigrants to the U.S. passed through between 1892 and 1927.  Here is the picture of an Assyrian boy on display on the Island.  He photographed the picture and e-mailed it to me.  Underneath the picture a cursive writing reads as follows: "Maljan Chavoor was the son of Assyrian parents who lived in Harput, Turkey.  After many harrowing years of persecution, Maljan, his mother, and two sisters finally succeeded in leaving their homeland to join relatives in U.S. in 1922."

Let us not forget.

I also found the Ellis Island website very interesting (click here).  Check passenger search if you are interested in any records.  They have records on 25,000,000 immigrants.


Mr. Maljan Chavoor, according to the military records, lived in California and enlisted in the U.S. army in 1944 and served in the Second World War.  Assyrian Progress was a monthly publication of the Assyrian American Benevolent Association of California in the 1930's.  The publication was in English.  Among its contributors is a Mr. Maljan Chavoor from California.  On 4 April 1989 Mr. Chavoor was interviewed by Nancy Dallett for the North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories project.  It appears that Mr. Chavoor is still alive and living somewhere in the U.S.

Musing with My Samovar
with Obelit Yadgar



If there’s one place on earth considered to be the center of the universe, I will always think of it as Tanbalkhana, the so-named hangout in my grandmother’s village of Digala in Urmia. From what I can determine, the Turkic word loosely translates into Assyrian as “lazy house.” And that’s what it was: a place that lulled you into inaction. For some villagers, Tanbalkhana was a place to unwind after a long day’s work. For the true believers of laziness as a way of life, however, Tanbalkhana’s doctrine stated that nothing is that important that it can’t wait for another day. And a lot of people, young and old, wise and witless, did just that. They sat a spell and forgot about everything else.

I’ve always believed you haven’t lived life until you’ve spent a few lazy late summer afternoons in Tanbalkhana. There have been a lot of summer afternoons for me in a lot of places. Those spent in Tanbalkhana stand among the glittering nuggets. Looking back, I thank my good fortune to have had a taste of that life on my summer vacations. It’s a memory as warm as Digala’s summer breezes that will forever whisper strains of ancient Assyrian voices.

Although the Assyrian population of Urmia whose roots stretched back centuries is but a drop now, in my days Digala still had a fair-sized number of Assyrian families. They lived on agriculture and raised cattle the way their ancestors had. Their vineyards and orchards blotted the mud and brick landscape with patches of intense color. Kerosene lamps lit the homes and wells supplied the drinking water. The roosters announced dawn’s arrival and the returning cattle dusk’s approach. That world painted a living portrait of how it must have been for ancient Assyrians.

Although I know my Digala summers are vanished times, some of my memories of them remain as vivid as yesterday’s sunset. I think of them not because I live in the past. No, living in the past is foolish. Let it remain what it is and where it is. Rather, as an Assyrian, I take what I can from the past and embrace the future. That’s the way it should be, that or allow myself to turn into dust. Rather, for me, journeys to the Urmia of my past, and specifically to Tanbalkhana, are sweet musings that, like rich desserts, complete my life’s feast.   

Tanbalkhana was a village square of sorts, a small patch of dusty earth off the main thoroughfare and across from the tiny mercantile store. Earthen benches, worn smooth by years of comforting countless Assyrian derrieres, were built into an earthen wall that marked the boundary of a white mulberry orchard. When ripe, the berries cuddled the palate in a soft blanket of aromatic sweets. The birds had an insatiable taste for them, and periodically had to be driven away by noisemakers fashioned from small wooden mallets that when clapped together sounded like gunfire. 

I still hear Tanbalkhana’s titillating music: the rich voices, the laughter, the soft breezes, and the concerto for fake gunfire and bird chatter. It was a place where gossip pollinated like bees and business deals clicked like tumblers in locks. You could discuss politics all you wanted, but sometimes there was no winning an argument when everyone was right and no one wrong – except you, of course. From what my young mind could tell, most of the time reason prevailed, but sometimes it crumbled before bombast. Stories about the olden days read like chapters in Assyrian histories, and the tales told sometimes were so tall they almost reached the moon.

Medical home cures came loaded with peculiar and amusing remedies that, according to the source, had a 100 percent rate of success. Discussions on the most effective agricultural methods tossed science and opinion together. Philosophical thoughts wrapped around simple anecdotes. Aphorisms packed a heavy punch. I lost myself in the colorful dialogue I heard. I believed everything and nothing, because what was true and what was fairy tale seemed of little consequence to me in Tanbalkhana. It was the sweet voice of Tanbalkhana that I loved. I soared with it, especially on days when conversations flowed like a stream without natural barriers. On such days the mood felt perfect, like nature’s colors at their highest intensity. Looking back, I take those specials times as the perfect moments in life, and there were many in Tanbalkhana.

Look here: there were these two old friends who met on board a ship after many years. One goes on and on about how wealthy he is, how much land he owns, how many heads of cattle pack his barns, and he brags about how many accomplishments, adventures and conquests he’s had in life. The other friend, who lives a simple life on a small patch of land tending his small flock of sheep, listens to the boasting and says nothing. When the ship begins to sink in a storm, the poor friend says to his companion, “Tell me, old friend, as you were accumulating all the riches, did you by chance learn to swim?” The wealthy friend slaps his forehead and shakes his head. “No, by God, I didn’t,” he says. “Then I am the one who is the richer,” says the poor friend.

That golden aphorism probably had passed around many a Tanbalkhana, changing with each telling while the message remained unchanged. It’s one of the most profound thoughts I took away with me from Tanbalkhana. In a way, it echoes another belief I hold dear, especially as an Assyrian, and it is best expressed in the words of the English poet Mathew Arnold: “Life is not having and getting, but being and becoming.”

What’s also ironic is that one truly colorful medical advice I took away from Tanbalkhana lay hidden in the back of my mind until surfacing in the most unlikely of places. If I recall, it had already made the rounds in Digala as the perfect remedy for a toothache: that if the pain was on the left side of your mouth, you could cure it by sticking a clove of garlic in your right ear, and that if the pain was on the right side of your mouth, sticking a clove of garlic in your left ear would do the job. Years later, I don’t know what made me think about it, but I did to my surprise.
It was in Vietnam where I served as a U.S. Army combat correspondent. I was on assignment once with an infantry unit on patrol in the jungle and we had set up a night perimeter outside a village still smoldering in the aftermath of heavy fighting days before by another unit. Tanbalkhana this place wasn’t. While the intermittent small arms and artillery fire in the far distance sounded like a piece of avant-garde music, a bright moon threw an eerie sheen over our silent patch of hell.

A fellow soldier had offered me the hospitality of his foxhole while he manned an M60 pointed at a big rice paddy. Keeping to whispers, a Puerto Rican and an Assyrian, we talked about home and a lot of the things soldiers talk about while churning in the belly of war. He said he couldn’t guarantee a night without incoming mortar or rocket fire over our position, but he was almost sure it was too bright for a sapper or full-frontal attack by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars. Which was fine with me.

Sometime during the night, trying to stay warm, I took out a box of sweet raisins from my rucksack and offered him some. He shook his head no, thanking me, and touched his left cheek. “Lousy toothache,” he said with a grimace. “Man, if the VC don’t get me, this toothache will.”

“Stick a clove of garlic in your right ear and it’ll take the pain away,” I said, surprising myself. Why I said it I don’t know, but there it was. It just popped in my head, even though I had not thought about it since the Tanbalkhana days.

He turned to me with a frown, looking puzzled. “Say what?”

I took off my helmet and scratched my head, holding back laughter. “Stick a clove of garlic in your right ear and it’ll take the pain away,” I said, snickering. “Heard about that remedy a long time ago.”

“I ain’t stickin’ no garlic in my ear,” he said, himself snickering. “You reporters are crazy like the rest of us grunts.”
He shook his head again and turned back to his field of fire over the rice paddy. For the rest of the night, I was sure his body shook from time to time, and I was also sure he was snickering to himself.    

Long after Vietnam, such lofty medical advice I once heard in Tanbalkhana still makes me scratch my head and snicker. Then again, at this stage in my life, sometimes I’ll believe anything, including singing rabbits and dancing raccoons.

Surfer's Corner
Community Events


Demonstration in Brussels on 19 April

These are examples of the situation of the Christians during the democratization process of Iraq between 2005 - 2008:

Jan., 17th 2005:   The kidnapping of the Syrian-catholic bishop Bassil George Qasmoussa.
August 2005:       Bomb attacks on the churches in Mosul and Kirkuk.
Jan., 29th 2006:   Bomb attacks on eight churches in Mosul and Baghdad at the same time.
Oct, 11th 2006:    The murder by beheading of the Syriac-orthodox priest Iskender Paulos
                           Behnam in Mosul.
June, 3rd 2007:    The murder of the chaldean monk Ragheed Ganni and three deacons.
February 2008:    Bomb attacks on nine churches in Mosul, Kirkuk and Baghdad.
Feb., 29th 2008:   The kidnapping and murder of the chaldean archbishop Mar Boulus Faraj
April, 5th 2008:    Shooting of the Syrian-orthodox priest Yusuf Adel Aboudi in Baghdad
2005 – 2008:        The massacres of hundreds of Syriac-Chaldean-Assyrian and the systematic
                           displacement of hundreds of thousands out from the country

The Syriac-Chaldean-Assyrian people have become target of terror and the ethnic cleansing. To speed up the cleansing, churches are bombed and representatives of the churches are killed. The Christian populations of Basra, Kirkuk, Baghdad and Mosul have been halved in the last three years. Other regions in Iraq are completely cleaned of Christians. The Syriac-Chaldean-Assyrian people are confronted in these days with a new genocide. Without effective preventive measures the indigene people of the region will be banished from Mesopotamia.

We must direct the attention of world politics on the Christians, in order to stop the assault. Therefore we have organized a large demonstration, starting in front of the US embassy in Brussels, ending with a meeting in Rond Point Schumann.

All churches, associations and institution of our people are cordially invited to attend this demonstration.  

With kind regards

  • Syriac-Orthodox Archdiocese in Germany - Bishop Julius Hanna Aydin an the board of the archdiocese
  • European Syriac Union-ESU
  • Federation Suryoye Germany - HSA

Information for the demonstration

Place: Brussels
Date: April, 19th 2008 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Start: In front of the US embassy 27 Bolevard du Regent
Meeting: Rond Point Schumann

Zinda & Gorgias Press Present "Assyrians in Yonkers"

Zinda Magazine is pleased to announce the publication of Dr. John Pierre Amir's book "Assyrians in Yonkers", made possible by the financial support of Zinda Magazine and published by Gorgias Press.

Click above book cover to learn more.

This book is Dr. Ameer’s reflection on growing up within the small community of Assyrian Christians in Yonkers, New York. He uses the year 1946 as an orientation for his discussion of the characteristics of that ethnic community, that city, and that time in United States history.

The book enables readers to reflect on those aspects of community critical to civic support and on the process of successful assimilation in mid-twentieth century America. The author describes the context of living in an ethnically, religiously, and racially diverse society. This will be of particular interest to the many people concerned with sustaining the idea of community in American life.

The author achieves his purposes by including chapters relevant not only to shaping the identities of the young members of that particular community, but also useful in understanding identity formation in other contexts. He explores the roles that the church, the neighborhood, the school and the recent history of the Assyrians—refugees from World War I, had in forming the context in which a youngster developed sense of self and of community.

Readers will encounter those forces within American society that foster the development of a vibrant and exciting bicultural identity.

John Pierre Ameer was an administrator and teacher in secondary schools from 1966-1985. Since then, he has worked in teacher education programs at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Simmons College, and is now Assistant Professor of Education at Clark University and Adjunct Faculty in the Foundations of Education at Worcester State College. He received his BA degree from Yale University in history and his EdM and EdD degrees from Harvard University in the history of education.

Gorgias Press is interested to hear from scholars who are writing new monographs, text books, or reference works on the various subject areas that Gorgias Press publishes in. Gorgias Press also publishes revised doctoral dissertations in monograph form. To discuss a project proposal, write to submissions@gorgiaspress.com.

To learn more or order your copy of Dr. Amir's "Assyrians in Yonkers" click here.

BUKHRO:  The First English-Syriac Dictionary Published

Bukhro: the English–Syriac Dictionary by Archpriest Zeki Zitoun is a profound reference that provides a coherent and elaborated insight into English wordings translated into Syriac. It is the first English-Syriac dictionary released, hence the title BUKHRO, which means ‘First Born’.

According to the writings and testimonies of the citizens and foreigners - syriacs and orientalists - Syriac is the language of Adam the first man as he learnt it from his Creator. It became the language of the divine revelation and the origin of Semetic languages and their branches. It was used by the first inhabitants of Mesopotamia and Syria. It is true that “no other language was spread in the world like the Syriac, but English today”.

The author's expert understanding of the Syriac language makes this dictionary a primary source of reference and an asset for students, scholars or anyone interested in the Syriac language.

It is perfect for English-readers and Syriac-readers as it contains an elaborate compilation of words where verbs, nouns, adjectives or adverbs are translated.

Looking up English words translated into Syriac is no longer a challenge with this new dictionary at hand.

Bukhro has a hard cover and contains 1,243 A4 pages.   Bukhro is $100.00 (Australian dollars) + shipping (AUD $70.00 via airmail to the USA) and can be purchased by contacting the author at zekizitoun@hotmail.com with your location to confirm shipping costs.  For multiple dictionaries sent to a single location a consolidated quote can be arranged.


Payment options are:

OPTION 1:  Wire Transfer
Account Name: Mr Z & Mrs M Zitoun
BSB number: 732023
Account number: 544872
Swift code: wpacau2s

OPTION 2:  Cheque
Payable to: Mr Z & Mrs M Zitoun
89 Mona Street
Auburn NSW 2144 Australia

For more information visit www.bukhro.com.

Zinda readers receive a $10.00 discount through a special arrangement with the book publishers.  To receive your "zinda discount" please indicate in your correspondence that you are a Zinda Reader. 

2nd Annual Return to Anatolia Conference

Click on the above flyer to view in PDF

Joseph Haweil

The Australian Assyrian Arts and Literature Foundation has again spearheaded the venture from within the Assyrian community and is proudly working with our Greek-Pontian and Armenian colleagues to bring the 2nd annual "Return to Anatolia Conference" to be held jointly in Melbourne by the Assyrian, Greek (Pontian) and Armenian communities and organisations.

This year the conference shall examine the role of women in Anatolia and is entitled 'The Women of Anatolia: Keepers of Tradition, Holders of Memory, Stalwart of Family'. 

The conference shall again also be honoured by the presence of high level Assyrian, Greek, Armenian and Australian dignitaries including Members of Parliament, Ambassadors and others at the inaugurating function held prior to the formal conference.

Speakers include:

  • Bernard Korbman
  • Vicken Babkenian
  • Dr. Panayiotis Diamadis
  • Stavros Terry Stavridis

The conference's highlight shall of course be the papers delivered by the many scholars and academics from within the field of the Assyrian, Aremenian and Hellenic-Pontian genocide who have graciously agreed to partake in the conference.


Symposium on Jacob of Sarug & His Times

Studies in Sixth Century Syriac Christianity

24 - 26 October 2008 in Teaneck, New Jersey

St. Mark’s Cathedral, on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary, is holding an international symposium on Jacob of Sarug and His Times: Studies in Sixth Century Syriac Christianity. The symposium will be held on October 24-26, 2008 at 260 Elm Ave, Teaneck, NJ. The symposium speakers are:

·         Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Brown University

·         Sharbil Alexandre Bcheiry, Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese

·         Sebastian P. Brock, University of Oxford

·         Sidney Griffith, The Catholic University of America

·         Mary Hansbury, Philadelphia

·         Amir Harrak, University of Toronto

·         George A. Kiraz, Beth Mardutho & Gorgias Press

·         Edward G. Mathews, St. Nerses Seminary

·         Kathleen McVey, Princeton Theological Seminary

·         Aho Shemunkasho, University of Salzburg

·         Lucas Van Rompay, Duke University

Symposium Chair: George A. Kiraz
Symposium Secretary: Jack C. Darakjy, Esq.

To attend the Symposium, download the Attendance Registration From (early registration ends September 1, 2008) from the following link: click here.


Polish Researcher Studying Assyrians

Marta Wozniak

Marta Wozniak

My adventure with the Assyrian people began seven years ago in Sweden, where I was spending my summer holidays with two friends. One of them was partly of Assyrian origin, thus in Södertajle we were welcomed by his Assyrian family. I had never seen such hospitality, such kindness and generosity before, despite the fact that we could not communicate with all the members of the family (some of them knew English, but the older people spoke only Arabic). They took care of us and showed us the church, which made a great impression on me (I am a Christian myself).

After my return to Poland, I started studying Arabic because I wanted to be able to communicate with those Assyrians, who do not speak English. I prepared first a paper on "The Situation of the Assyrian Immigrants in the UE. The Past and the Present" and presented it at a conference in Warsaw. Then I got a scholarship at the Polish Ministry of National Education and spent one year in Syria studying Arabic. I came back and wrote an MA thesis on the Coptic Church (for some time I was working in Polish embassy in Cairo). At the same time, I wrote next paper on the Assyrians: "Exodus of the Assyrian-Chaldean minority from Iraq after 11th September 2001 in the eyes of the West" and presented it at the conference in Poznan. Furthermore, I was involved in many scholarly activities, which were appreciated by granting me the "Primus inter Pares" Award (the best student in Poland).

Even before being accepted as a doctoral student, I started collecting more data on the Assyrians. In summer 2006, I went to Brazil and found the Assyrians in Campo Grande and São Paulo. Last summer (2007) I visited some of ancient Assyrian places in Turkey and saw the sufferings of the Assyrian people in the south-east part of the country. Moreover, I came back to Sweden and had the possibility of living with the Assyrian family for few days, as well as visiting the Suroyo TV and participating in Mass in one of the Assyrian churches. I searched for books on the Christians of the Middle East not only in Sweden (Uppsala), but also in Germany (Leipzig and Chemnitz) and England (London).

At present, I am working as a lecturer at my home university (University of Lodz). I have still two years left to write my PhD dissertation, which has a working title: "Modern Assyrians: in search for national identity". It will consist of few parts -- theoretical framework, historical background and sociological part. In the theoretical framework I would like to present the different approaches towards the identity. The historical background will focus on the last century, especially on the tragedy of Seyfo and the emigration from the homeland. Additionally, I would like to provide some information about the Assyrian media, above all the Assyrian web-sites and the phenomena of "cyber Assyria." The third, sociological part will hopefully be the one to bring something new by presenting the personal, though anonymous, opinions of the Assyrians.

Click here to take the survey

Therefore, I have constructed the electronic survey to reach as many Assyrian people as it is possible. Principally, I am interested in the ways in which the Assyrians perceive themselves. Other issues important to me are somewhat related to the latter, namely: the knowledge of languages (Classical Syriac and Aramaic in particular), the contact with Assyrian culture (magazines, television, radio, internet, etc.), the attitude towards tradition, the importance of the feasts, the religious background and practice, finally, the threats to the Assyrian identity and the methods of protecting it. I hope that the material which will be gathered thanks to this survey will serve not only me and all the scholars interested in the matter, but mainly and essentially the Assyrians themselves.

With special thanks to the Assyrian International News Agency.

St. Basil Scholarship Grows, Seeks Applications

The Anglican Church of Canada
4 April 2008

Bishop Henry Hill was a man passionate about dialogue between Anglican and Orthodox churches. So passionate, in fact, that the former Diocese of Ontario bishop not only served as the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative in related dialogues, but in 1991 he set up the St. Basil Scholarship so scholars from Oriental Orthodox churches could travel overseas to learn more about each other's faith.

Bishop Hill passed away in October 2006, and recently, through donations from his estate and from others, the funds in the scholarship have increased significantly. Now the Anglican Foundation, which administers the St. Basil scholarship, is seeking applications from scholars and clergy who are interested in a study visit of about six months.

Seven St. Basil scholarships have been awarded since 1991: four to members of Oriental Orthodox churches and three to Canadian Anglicans. The Anglican Foundation aims to fund one St. Basil scholar per year.

The most recent scholar was Rev. Wally Raymond, former Dean of the Diocese of Quebec, who lived, taught and worshipped with the Armenian Orthodox Church in Lebanon and Jerusalem for four months in 2006. During his stay, Rev. Raymond kept up a colourful blog, where he reflected, "this sabbatical leave for me has been one of rediscovery, focusing anew on that essence of faith that so encourages and sustains us."

The scholarship is named after St. Basil the Great of the fourth century. Known for his teaching and work for the poor, St. Basil is revered in Anglican churches as well as in Oriental Orthodox churches.

Members of the following churches are eligible to be St. Basil scholars: the Anglican Church of Canada, the Armenian Apostolic Church (in Armenia and Lebanon), the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Syria and India, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (in India), the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East.

If you're interested in applying, contact the Anglican Foundation by email, or call (416) 924-9199 ext. 234.

Zinda Recommendations from Gorgias Press

For More Info
Geschichte der spät- und neusyrischen Literatur
Rudolf Macuch

More than a literary survey, this introduction to the history of late and Neo-Syriac (Neo-Aramaic) covers the works of the past several centuries. Macuch begins with the post-Mongolian period to the end of the 18th century. After providing a general ecclesiastical-political layout of the era, he looks at the literature of the Syrian Orthodox and Church of the East traditions, the School of Alqosh, and the Maronites. Moving forward in time, he considers the Neo-Aramaic folk-language from the beginning of the 19th century. Here he examines anonymous literature, spiritual poetry, and catechetical literature. For the 19th century itself, Macuch considers the situation of the Assyrians in this period, including the American missionary enterprise in Urmia, both Catholic and Evangelical, as well as the Anglican and Russian Orthodox missions, noting the writers of the foreign missions. For the twentieth century, the Assyrians in the two world wars, and the authors from the period of the wars up to the 1970s, Neo-Aramaic writers in America and those who wrote in foreign languages, including periodical literature. Turning his final attention to the material in classical Syriac over the last two centuries, he considers various East-Syriac and West-Syriac authors of the Chaldean and Church of the East, and Syrian Orthodox and Maronite traditions, respectively. The study concludes with a presentation of the Syrian literature of Malabar in southern India. In general the material is laid out with the author being listed and a brief accounting for the written works being presented. This useful handbook, previously out of print, will be welcomed by those who wish to remain current with the past and on-going work in the Syriac literary heritage.

Rudolf Macuch (1919-1993) was a Slovakian Orientalist. He studied at Bratislava before moving to Iran to gain firsthand experience of his interests. He eventually moved on to Oxford and Berlin, where he taught. He is best known for his extensive and groundbreaking work on the Mandaean language.


History of the Iraqi City of Mosul Suleiman Saigh

The city of Mosul in northern Iraq, some 396 km (250 miles) northwest of Baghdad, is today a central point in the political struggles of Iraq. This three-volume set is the most comprehensive treatment of this historical city ever written. The first volume covers the political history of Iraq and Mosul, beginning with the ancient Mesopotamian kingdoms that ruled the city, including the Assyrians and Chaldeans. The jurisdictions of the Persians, Macedonians, Arabs (before and after Islam), and Ottomans are given thorough consideration, taking the reader to the independence of Iraq in the twentieth century.

The second volume covers the cultural history of Mosul and the contributions of its inhabitants to world civilization. The narrative begins with the legacies of the Aramaic-speaking inhabitants, both pagan and Christian, then moves to the later periods of Islam and ending up with a survey of schools in Mosul during the early twentieth century.

The third volume is a comprehensive survey of the art and archaeology of the city. It begins with the city’s ancient Mesopotamian heritage, especially that of Assyria. The narrative of the history of archaeology in the city includes the works of Botta, Layard and others. Saigh then describes Arabic and Islamic art in the city, and presents a full description of Christian art in the various churches and monasteries of the city. The volume contains 46 illustrations. All three volumes are written in Arabic.

Suleiman Saigh was a native of Mosul. He became a priest in the Chaldean church and was evenutally consecrated bishop.

Editor's Pick


Khalil Gibran

Part 2 of 2

To view part 1, click here.

Stan Shabaz
Washington, DC

                   “How Khalil Gibran amazed America, by preaching The Supreme in the country of the dollar” [1]                                                                                                                                                                                                                         -- Charles Corm

The Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Stan Shabaz)

In part one of this essay, I described Gibran’s family background, his early life, and his connections to the Syriac language. I also reviewed some of his beliefs. As we saw, Gibran was passionate in his commitment to these beliefs and this sometimes earned him an angry reaction from his critics. Let’s now take a look at some of the criticisms and hardships Gibran faced during his lifetime.

His Critics

Gibran’s vehement stands against sectarianism, feudalism, clerical politicking and Ottoman despotism gained him many enemies. Traditionalists and those loyal to the clerical hierarchy were very critical of Gibran:

“Ever since the appearance of The Broken Wings, al-Mashriq, the influential Lebanese literary journal, had attacked his books. In 1912 it labeled his antagonism toward the Church hierarchy as “dirty sayings that belittled the sayer.” By 1923 its tone has not softened. “Who can imagine this poet?” wrote the Jesuit critic Louis Cheikho [2]. “Is he a poet or an idiot? He seems childish, empty like his Great Sea….In his heart is the irreligious microbe.”….In a defense of Cheikho’s criticism al-Mashriq warned that Gibran’s ideas were “lustful and cheap” and his influence pernicious. “Stop reading him!” traditionalists instructed their faithful flocks.” [3]

Likewise the Ottoman’s were also displeased with his works. He received a threatening anonymous letter in 1917 stating: “Turkey is not dead—and she has a long arm—if you do not stop what you are doing.” [4]

He was beset on all sides by the forces of the old guard: Ottoman loyalists, the clerical hierarchy, traditionalists and conservatives, feudal lords and reactionary politicians. Gibran himself commented on all this criticism:

“Critics in the East say many cruel things about me such as I am a destroyer of morals and that I live in the shadow of a strange god. Such criticism does not bother me, however. Indeed, I enjoy it.” [5]

In a letter to his cousin Nakhli, he wrote:

“The apparition of enmity has already appeared. The people in Syria are calling me heretic, and the intelligentsia in Egypt vilifies me, saying, ‘He is the enemy of just laws, of family ties, and of old traditions.’ Those writers are telling the truth, because I do not love man-made laws and I abhor the traditions that our ancestors left us. This hatred is the fruit of my love for the sacred and spiritual kindness which should be the source of every law upon the earth, for kindness is the shadow of God in man. I know that the principles upon which I base my writings are echoes of the spirit of the great majority of the people of the world, because the tendency toward a spiritual independence is to our life as the heart is to the body.” [6]

Likewise, in his essay, “Narcotics and Dissecting Knives”, Gibran replies to his critics:

“ ‘He is excessive and fanatic to the point of madness…Our counsel to the inhabitants of this blessed Mountain (Mount Lebanon) is to reject the insidious teachings of this anarchist and heretic and to burn his books, that his doctrines may not lead the innocent astray. We have read ‘The Broken Wings’ and found it to be honeyed poison.’

Such is what people say of me and they are right, for I am indeed a fanatic and I am inclined toward destruction as well as construction. There is hatred in my heart for that which my detractors sanctify, and love for that which they reject. And if I could uproot certain customs, beliefs and traditions of the people, I would do so without hesitation. When they said my books were poison, they were speaking truth about themselves, for what I say is poison to them. But they falsified when they said I mix honey into it, for I apply the poison full strength and pour it from transparent glass.”[7]

"Madman" and "Heretic"

Given these strong feelings, it was no wonder that Gibran often found himself at odds with the established conservative institutions, families, clergy and politicians of his day. Those who wanted to preserve their inherited power and privileges feared his message of reform and revolution.

Because of this fervent opposition to the antiquated status quo, Gibran much admired those brave souls and mighty minds who challenged societal restrictions and limitations. In this regard, he was fascinated with the concept of madness. Gibran expressed this “personal fascination with the mad”[8] in the following quote:

“In Syria madness is frequent. There has been much contemplative life there for several hundreds of years—and it results in various things: sometimes in extreme nervousness; sometimes in madness; sometimes in just apparent idleness; sometimes in wonderful wisdom.”[9]

What he says here is indeed true. I think it stems from the age of our civilization which stretches back to the dawn of history itself. Throughout these millennia of history our ancestors have devoted themselves to contemplative thought: philosophical, spiritual, ideological and religious. The complexities and subtleties of the millennia flow through our blood and our minds: a complexity of thought, a subtlety of behavior. An intricate complexity and impressive subtlety: occasionally viewed as “madness”, but more accurately viewed as a sign of a distinguished and cultured nation marked by the touch of eternal genius.

This is why Gibran would say that the “people called ‘touched’ are very significant to me.”[10] Likewise, in a letter to Mikhail Naimy in 1921 Gibran writes:

“So you are on the verge of madness. This is a piece of news, magnificent in its fearfulness, fearful in its magnificence and beauty. I say that madness is the first step towards divine sublimation. Be mad, Mischa. Be mad and tell us of the mysteries behind the veil of ‘reason’. Life’s purpose is to bring us nearer to those mysteries; and madness is the surest and the quickest steed. Be mad, and remain a mad brother to your mad brother.”[11]

And in his book, “The Madman” he wrote:

“And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”[12]

Gibran identified with the madman, just as he identified with the heretic. Though he was called a madman and a heretic by his enemies and critics, he never ran away from those labels; quite the opposite, he embraced and reveled in them. He entitled two of his most famous essays “Yuhanna the Madman” and “Khalil the Heretic”. The title characters in both essays were heroic men challenging reactionary and unjust societal mores. Both characters were alter egos of Gibran himself, reflecting his thoughts and beliefs.

Isolation and Loneliness

Gibran often found himself at odds with society and societal strictures binding the minds and souls of men to the whims of narrow-minded rulers and outdated traditions. He often felt like an outsider in his society and was viewed as such by its more conservative elements. This feeling of alienation and opposition was reflected in the titles of several of his works, including: “Spirits Rebellious”, “The Tempest”, “The Madman”, “I am Not Moderate”, “The Lonely Poet”, “Solitude and Isolation”, “Beyond My Solitude”.

Even as a child he was misunderstood by his teachers, peers and especially his father. Yet he always knew that he was different, special:

“All those who knew Gibran as a child said that… he was an eccentric child who loved solitude… sitting alone near the cave of Mar Sarkis (Monastery) drawing.”[13]

And as an adult he embraced this isolation:

“Sometimes I’m almost proud of my hermitage, my loneliness. I’m not accepted—that’s all. I never have been and I never shall be. I just don’t fit.”[14]

Even when working in the national cause to help his people during the famine of World War I he expressed this frustration:

“As for the Syrians, they are even stranger than they used to be. The bosses are getting bossier, and the gossips more gossipy. All these things make me hate life… and if it had not been for the cries of the starving which fill my heart, I would not have stayed in this office for one second… and had I been given the choice of death in Lebanon or life among these creatures I would have chosen death”.[15]

Women and Love

Despite his disappointment and frustration with society and its selfish materialism, he did find solace through his relationships with women. He once said:

“I am indebted for all that I call ‘I’ to women, ever since I was an infant. Women opened the wisdom of my eyes and the doors of my spirit. Had it not been for the woman-mother, the woman-sister, and the woman-friend, I would have been sleeping among those who seek the tranquility of the world with their snoring.”[16]

He also wrote,

“Women’s influence is to be found somewhere behind all the creations of man throughout the centuries. I do not state this as a theory. For me it is a psychological fact, its manifestations being perfectly palpable throughout history.”[17]

This was particularly true for Gibran and the women in his life. First were his beloved mother and his extremely loyal and dutiful sister, Marianne. In terms of romance, we should examine in particular both his first love as well as his last.

His first love was probably his truest and most ideal love. I think this love must have had a profound effect upon Gibran. The woman was known to the world as Selma Karamy, the tragic female character in his novel, “The Broken Wings”. But what is the reality behind the story? As much as we are able to put together it goes like this: While studying at al-Hikma school in Beirut, he fell in love with Hala al-Dahir, a woman “distinguished by beauty and noble birth.”[18] Although, she loved Gibran, her brother, a district official, forbade her to speak to the “son of a goat-tax farmer”. The lovers were forced to meet secretly in a forest near Mar Sarkis monastery. Eventually the reactionary forces of feudalism and patriarchal dominance were brought to bear upon the young lovers. When reading “The Broken Wings” it is easy to see that Gibran truly cared for Hala (“Selma”):

“I was eighteen years of age when love opened my eyes with its magic rays and touched my spirit for the first time with its fiery fingers, and Selma Karamy was the first woman who awakened my spirit with her beauty and led me into the garden of high affection, where days pass like dreams and nights like weddings.

Selma was the one who taught me to worship beauty by the example of her own beauty and revealed to me the secret of love by her affection; she was the one who first sang to me the poetry of real life…..

Oh, friends of my youth who are scattered in the city of Beirut, when you pass by that cemetery near the pine forest, enter it silently and walk slowly so that the tramping of your feet will not disturb the slumber of the dead, and stop humbly by Selma’s tomb and greet the earth that encloses her corpse and mention my name with a deep sigh and say to yourself, ‘Here, all the hopes of Gibran, who is living as a prisoner of love beyond the seas, were buried. On this spot he lost his happiness, drained his tears, and forgot his smile.’ ”

The last love of his life was May Ziadeh, a woman he never was able to meet in person, but with whom he maintained a correspondence throughout many years. May Ziadeh was the daughter of a Lebanese journalist who emigrated to Egypt. She was a highly respected essayist, lecturer, literary critic and feminist. She traveled throughout Europe and knew nine languages. In 1912 she launched a Literary Salon in Cairo, which hosted weekly intellectual debates and literary readings. Participants of her salon included Khalil Mutran, Taha Hussein, Lutfi as-Sayad, Yacoub Sarrouf and Antoun Gemeyal.

Like Gibran she never married. After Gibran’s death, and the death of her parents, she fell into a deep depression. In an attempt to gain control of her estate, her uncle had a doctor state that she was mentally disturbed, which enabled him to have her unjustly hospitalized in a mental asylum. She was forced to endure harsh and inhumane treatment during that confinement and her plight eventually became known to the country at large. Her cause was championed by friends and intellectuals, including Ameen Rihani and Antun Saadeh among others.[19] Eventually they were able to secure her release, but the mistreatment she received in the asylum took its toll. She was able to lecture and write again after her release, but she passed away shortly thereafter in 1941 at the early age of 55; “lonely and friendless except for a handful of faithful admirers.”[20]

The Return Home

Towards the end of his life Gibran felt the intense need to return to his beloved Lebanon. In a letter to May Ziadeh he wrote “My longing for my homeland almost destroys me”;[21] and in a letter to Mikhail Naimy he wrote:

“I say, Mikhail, that the future shall find us in a hermitage on the edge of one of the Lebanon gorges. This deceptive civilization has strained the strings of our spirits to the breaking point. We must depart before they break. But we must remain patient and forebearing until the day of departure.”[22]

Likewise in one of his last letters he said: “I must withdraw myself from this civilization that runs on wheels…I wish to go back to Lebanon and remain there forever.”[23]

He made plans to purchase Mar Sarkis Monastary, but unfortunately, he was too “patient and forebearing”, for death took him, before he was able to make his departure. Yet the final homecoming which eluded him in life was ultimately fulfilled after his death.

Gibran’s friend, journalist Salloum Mokarzel [24] told “The Times” of Gibran’s return to Lebanon:

“At various stages along the road young men, in colorful native costumes, engaged in spirited sword-play before the slowly-moving hearse. Others followed singing martial songs or improvising eulogies for the dead. At a town near Gebail, the ancient Byblos and the seat of worship of the Syrian goddess Astarte, a company of maidens came out to meet the body. They wore loose flowing robes and their long hair fell in heavy waves over their shoulders. They also sang the praise of Gibran, but they did so in the sense of one who is living, welcoming him as ‘the beautiful bridegroom of our dreams’, and scattered roses along the road before him and perfume upon his casket.”[25]

He was laid to rest in the ancient Mar Sarkis monastry in Bsharri. It was a very fitting location, for it was the place where he first started to draw as a child; the place where he secretly met with his first and truest love as a young man; and the place he was making plans to purchase in his last years, in preparation for his long anticipated return to Lebanon. An inscription near his casket reads:

“A word I want to be written on my tomb: I am alive like you and I am standing now at your side, so close your eyes and look around, and you will see me in front of you.”[26]

Gibran’s Legacy

There are many of Gibran’s essays which have become classics: “Dead are My People”, “History and the Nation”,”My Countrymen”, “You have your Lebanon and I Have Mine”, “To Young Americans of Syrian Origin, I Believe in You”, “The Tempest” and several others. These are in addition to his books, such as “The Prophet”, “Jesus: The Son of Man”, and “The Broken Wings”. These works continue to sell around the world to this very day. Gibran’s writings, art and philosophy have had an enormous impact upon the intellectual, cultural and political life of the Near East. There have been songs [27], albums, films [28], books and even national political movements [29] based upon or inspired by his life, his philosophy and his writings. Even some of his quotes have gained of life of their own. Through famous quotes such as:

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.”


“Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?” [30]

…and many others, Gibran’s words have become a living and undying legacy: a legacy still influencing and inspiring people to this very day. This legacy is a living and vital heritage bequeathed to us and should be preserved by us and by our future generations so that it will never die.

International Conferences

As an indication of Gibran’s continuing importance there was a conference about him recently held at the University of Maryland. The conference was organized by The Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace Project, the International Association for the Study of the Life and Works of Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese-American Heritage Project, the Arab-American Historical Foundation and the University of Maryland. The conference was chaired by Dr. Suheil Bushrui, [31] the distinguished Gibran scholar. In addition to being an authority on Anglo-Irish literature, Dr. Bushrui is also one of the foremost scholars on Gibran in the world. He has dedicated much time and effort in order to preserve, protect and promote Gibran’s intellectual and philosophical legacy.

The conference examined the life and works of Kahlil Gibran, along with his associates Ameen Rihani, Iliya Abu Madi and other early immigrant Arabic language writers and journalists.

“These writers enriched America where they spent the greater part of their lives after arriving as young immigrants from the Middle East.  America’s dynamism opened up a world of possibilities to them, and gave rise to the unique East-West synthesis that the English works of Kahlil Gibran, Ameen Rihani, Mikhail Naimy, and others represent.  The Arabic works of these three, as well as the other members of the Pen Bond (al-Rabita al-Qalamiyyah)—such as Iliya Abu Madi, Nasib ‘Arida, and ‘Abd-al-Masih Haddad—contributed to the quickening of an Arab literary renaissance in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Arab world.”[32]

Scholars from around the world participated including Irfan Shahid, Miles Brady, Edmund Ghareeb, Michael Suleiman and distinguished Lebanese poet Henri Zoghaib,[33] the director of the Center for Lebanese Heritage, who came from Lebanon to address this conference.

Irfan Shahid and Miles Brady spoke on the life and work of Ameen Rihani. Edmund Ghareeb spoke of his father Andrew Ghareeb, one of Gibran’s translators and an active participant in early Arabic language journalism in America. Also participating were former Arab League Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, ALSAC [34] director Richard Shadyac and Joseph Haiek, publisher of the “News Circle” magazine in southern California. All participants stressed the need to preserve and promote the works and values of Kahlil Gibran.

Along similar lines, the New Pen League recently hosted an evening of music and poetry in Manhattan. “The New Pen League, is a secular, non-political, non-profit organization....It continues the mission of the original Pen League (Arrabitah Al-Qalamyiah), established in New York City…by the poet and writer Khalil Gibran.” [35] The event was held at the penthouse of Dag Hammarskjöld Tower and included readings by Youssef Abdul-Samad, dean of the New Pen League; H.E. Samir Sumaida’ie, Ambassador of Iraq to the United States; Lebanese author and composer Dr. Mansour Ajami; and the prominent Assyrian cardiologist and poet Dr. George Younan, MD. [36] Also in attendance was the noted philosopher and intellectual Sadek al-Azm,[37] who addressed the gathering.

It was indeed an honour to be in the presence of such intellectuals and activists at both events. These events are a testament to Gibran’s continuing and living legacy and its importance for us today and for generations yet to come.

  1. Corm, Charles, “Sacred Mountain”, pg. 65.
  2. Louis Cheikho (1859-1927) was born in Mardin; he was of Chaldean ancestry.
  3. Gibran, Kahlil and Jean Gibran. “Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World” pg. 370.
  4. Gibran, Kahlil and Jean Gibran. “Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World” pg. 306.
  5. Huwayyik, Yusuf, “Gibran in Paris”, pg. 35.
  6. Kahlil Gibran: A Self-Portrait, “Letter to Nakhli Gibran, March 15, 1908” pg. 28.
  7. Gibran, Kahlil, “Thoughts and Meditation”, pg. 91-92.
  8. Gibran, Kahlil and Jean Gibran. “Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World” pg. 259.
  9. Gibran, Kahlil and Jean Gibran. “Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World” pg. 260.
  10. Bushrui, Suheil, “Kahlil Gibran Man and Poet”, pg. 168.
  11. Naimy, Mikhail, “Kahlil Gibran: His Life and Works”, pg. 252.
  12. Kahlil Gibran, “The Madman”, pg. 8.
  13. Hawi, Khalil. “Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character and Works”, pg. 84.
  14. Waterfield, Robin, “Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran”, pg. 171 (Emphasis added.)
  15. Hawi, Khalil. “Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character and Works”, pg. 106.
  16. Gibran, Kahlil. “Kahlil Gibran: A Self-Portrait”, Letter to May Ziadeh, 1928”, pg. 84.
  17. Gibran, Khalil and Jean Gibran. “Khalil Gibran: His Life and World” pg. 277.
  18. Hawi, Khalil. “Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character and Works”, pg. 88.
  19. Regarding May Ziadeh, Antun Saadeh wrote that “Only very few male writers in Syria and Lebanon come close to the high cultural level, the feelings and the art of May’s writings.”
  20. Bushrui, Suheil and Salma Haffar al-Kuzbari, “Gibran: Love Letters”, pg. xiv.
  21. Bushrui, Suheil and Salma Haffar al-Kuzbari, “Gibran: Love Letters”, pg. 12
  22. Naimy, Mikhail.“Kahlil Gibran: His Life and Works”, pg. 255.
  23. Gibran, Kahlil. “Kahlil Gibran: A Self-Portrait”, Letter to Felix Farris, 1930”, pg. 94. (Emphasis added.)
  24. Salloum Mokarzel (1881-1952) was publisher of the classic journal “The Syrian World” from 1926 to 1932. “The Syrian World” was a monthly English language journal which included contributions from Kahlil Gibran, Philip Hitti, Mikhail Naimy, Ameen Rihani and many others.
  25. Waterfield, Robin, “Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran”, pg. 280.
  26. Waterfield, Robin, “Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran”, pg. 281-282
  27. The thoughts, beliefs and quotes of Gibran have found their way into several musical works including lyrics in songs of Fairouz (see A’tini al-Nay, al-Ardou Lakom, Ya Bani Oummi, etc) and the Beatles (see the song Julia in the Beatles White album) among others.
  28. The 1964 film “al Ajniha al Moutakassira” (“The Broken Wings”) by Youssef Maalouf, starring the great Lebanese actress Nidal al-Achkar. See “Le Cinema Libanais” by Hady Zaccak, pg. 73-75.
  29. See “Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character and Works” by Khalil Hawi, pg. 154-155. Also see “Gibran and the National Idea” by Adel Beshara, in “Middle East Quarterly”, Autumn 1994. pg. 30-33 and Jan Dayah “Aqida Jubran”, 1988. Of course, Gibran’s thought was so overwhelming it had a pervasive impact on numerous political, ideological, cultural and literary trends and reformist movements.
  30. Used in President Kennedy’s famous inaugural address.
  31. From 1982 to 1988, Professor Bushrui was Cultural Advisor and official interpreter to the President of the Republic of Lebanon. In 1983 he headed a presidential committee in Lebanon which organized the international celebrations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kahlil Gibran. These activities focused on the theme of Unity in Diversity and were held in Beirut, Oxford, London, and Washington, D.C. Professor Bushrui's published work is extensive, in both English and Arabic; his work on Gibran, in particular, has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Chinese. His most recent publications include: the first annotated edition of Gibran's “The Prophet” (1995); “The Ethical Dimensions of Science, Art, Religion, and Politics” (1996, co-edited with Miles Bradbury); as well as an up-to-date biography of Gibran entitled “Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet”.
  32. From the conference agenda.
  33. Henri Zoghaib also founded the poetry magazine “L’Odyssee” in 1982 and the Odyssee Cultural Committee in 1996. The committee organizes cultural, literary and artistic festivals.
  34. The American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) is a charitable fund raising organization which raises funds for St. Jude Children’s research hospital. ALSAC is the third largest healthcare related charity in the United States. St. Jude Children’s Hospital was founded by the great Lebanese entertainer Amos Jacobs (Danny Thomas).
  35. From the program brochure.
  36. K. George Younan, MD is a board certified cardiologist and internist who has served as Bayshore Community Hospital’s chief of medicine and as chairperson of critical care. Dr. Younan has also served as a past president of the prestigious National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA) and as editor-in-chief of NAAMA’s “al-Hakim” magazine.
  37. Sadek Jalal al-Azm works include “al-Naqd al-Thati Ba’d al-Hazima” (A Self-Critique in the Wake of Defeat), about the 1967 war; “Naqd al-Fikr al-Dini” (A Critique of Religious Thought); “Thihniyat al-Tahrim” (The Taboo Mentality); and “Ma Ba’da Thihniyat al-Tahrim” (Beyond the Taboo Mentality).

Drama of Iraqi Refugee Women and Children in Syria

Markus Urek
For Tukish Daily News
1 April 2008
New York

On March 20, 2003, Iraq was invaded by American and British troops which ended the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. The citizens of Baghdad celebrated the fall of Saddam with enthusiasm, without knowing that for most of them internal displacement would become their sole option of survival. After a while it has been understood that U.S. troops and the so-called democratic Iraqi government were unable to control the violence between the Islamist extremist groups and other ethnic groups.

Dreaming of democracy was unusual for Iraqis as they have more serious problems to think about. The UNHCR in 2007 reported that around 5 million people had fled their country out of which approximately 1.5 million Iraqi refugees established new lives in Syria.

The big exodus

After 400,000 displaced Palestinian refugees, Syria with its small economy and its multi-ethnical and religious background became the only hope of survival to almost 1.5 million Iraqis. These people are Shiite, Sunni, Druze, Turkmen and Christians. The Kurds didn't leave. Sunnis settled to the high rent areas such as Mazeh, the Assyrians Christian preferred middle class Christian areas like Jarmana and Doelha, and The Shiites settled around Set Zaynab Damascus.

Most of the refugees were women and children with different backgrounds and mixed socio-economic classes. Almost half of those people have a university or have postgraduate degree according to a survey done by IPSOS. 

Ninos Bar Karmo, who lived three years in Jaramana Syria, explains their dramatic arrival at the settlement: “People where happy to escape from violence but they were also sad for leaving their homes without seeing a future.” They migrated to Syria in huge numbers. The Syrians were very surprised by so many refugees. Trucks, buses and cars carried thousands and thousands of people to no future.

A resident of Syria confirmed that some of the refugees were rich but not all of them. Later he added; “There were some families who couldn't afford any rent too.” Some rich Sunnis started businesses especially; Assyrian Christians depended on their families or relatives in USA and Europe.” Also, a priest from Damascus said; “The Kurdish government of north Iraq, tries to help Christians who are in financial trouble in the suburbs of Damascus.”

The fact that some of the refugees were rich doesn't cover the truth of severe economical crisis between some refugee families. Bar Karmo states that there are a lot of Iraqi children and widow women on the streets of Damascus whose husbands were kidnapped or killed because of the conflict of Iraq. After living five years in Syria most of them became already teenagers and even some of them were born in Syria. The life has been very tough for widows and children. Not all of them were lucky to get jobs.

Prostitution to survive

As Bar Karmo adds; “I am not sure but I heard that prostitute business was common among Shiite refugees, especially among widows and families who have young daughters without any male in their families.” Although it is very dramatic he continues; “the Syrian prostitutes complained about the big competition that intensified after the Iraqi refugee came to Syria. Hence, making love with a prostitute became affordable for many Syrians.”

Also, according to Forbes most Iraqi refugee families were forced to prostitute their daughters in order to be able to survive. Moreover, the so called pleasure marriages are increasing in Syria leading to more sexual exploitation of the Iraqi refugee daughters.

The child labor among Iraqi refugees is very high, too. According to World Press Reports Iraqi children are forced into child labor. Around 10 percent are pushed into the work force for an income of $1 a day and around 80 percent cannot attend school. Even some families live with the salaries of child labor. 

Iraqi refugees' especially women and children deserve better life standards. Those kids who are raised in refugee camps will be the youth and parents of tomorrow. In order to prevent their camps of becoming a cradle for hatred and violence, they need to be raised in better conditions. Moreover, widows with children need special attention in order to prevent their kids from being traumatized and exploited.

As Syria has political problems with United States the world is not aware of the humanitarian drama going on in Syria. Also the Syrian government is not ready to let international NGOs to operate within its territories. According to the bulletin of Refugee International, the money provided by UNHCR is not sufficient, the agency asking for $261 million in 2008 in order to be able to provide protection and shelter to the Iraqi refugees.

It looks like fights between Iraqi ethnic and religious groups will continue. This means that the Iraqi refugees will have to stay longer in Syria and the women and children will pay by their body. Their future in Syria is shadowed and foggy. After a while, the Syrians and the Syrian government will not be able to handle the humanitarian crisis. It may be true that the Iraqi refugee women chose non-heterodox ways to survive, but no one can argue that they do that for pleasure.

Crusaders and others

Almost everyone in Middle East believes that U.S. is the cause of the bloody conflict in Iraq. It might be true or not. Here, the following questions should be addressed: If Americans are the reason of the bloody struggle, why do Iraqi people with the same ethnic and religious background kill each other? If the Americans are the crusaders why doesn't the Arab League help the displaced Iraqi refugees everywhere? The mother country of Islam is Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia closed the doors to Iraqi refugees. As a result, if the West or the Americans are the crusaders, why the Iraqis or other Islamic leaders don't take any action to prevent the ethnic and sects conflict? 

Markus Urek is an Assyrian from Turkey and a Fulbright Scholar studying at the New School in New York.

Why Assyrians Should be Inspired by Malta

Emil Brikha

Those who know me know that I left Sweden to move to Malta just a couple of days ago, leaving darkness, cold weather and cold people behind. What none of you probably know though is the history of Malta and reading this won’t make you any wiser in that aspect.

There is just one thing that my mind can’t grasp. I am, not surprisingly Assyrian, dwelling in the ruins of greatness, picking my feet clean from fragments and splinters of my people’s history as I walk barefoot through life. I come from a great people with a magnificent heritage of mind boggling ingenuity, intelligence and forward thinking.

Where are we in 2008? Scattered, shattered, bickering, bitching and fighting over politics, dialects, flags and religion. We are all over the world (I have not yet found a single Assyrian in Malta though) and there are millions of us. Many of us forgetting or not learning our own language and history. Many of us not bounding, not understanding and not being given the chance or opportunity to form and uphold any sense of actually being Assyrian. This is what we are in 2008.

Now look at Malta. This tiny 25 km or so long island with its 400 000 inhabitants have been in bed with many countries but never became anyone’s bitch. In 2008 it is a country with its own language which is a beautiful love child formed through various “bed partners” into what is today the Maltese language. They have their flag and they raise it proudly. They are a member of the European Union, just converted to the euro and are well on their way to reach new heights in development both economical and infrastructural (you can thank the nationalist party for that).

So what is our problem? Granted, Malta has never been a threat to any nation and most would argue this is why Malta has been left alone. Okay, Assyrians were and are still heavily targeted because of their religion in a Muslim dominated area of the world but still. We are again, millions of people, most of us schooled and educated or at the very least not retarded but we are still following the same patterns, repeating the same mistakes, reducing ourselves to even smaller beings as far as Assyrianism goes.

Some Assyrians fight loudly, aggressively and passionately for their cause. Some have done it all their life, grown up in a family with active parents within the movement through various organisation and in that way had their Assyrian identity parallel with whatever life they lived in whichever country they were living. Then there are others, like me, who grew up outside of the Assyrian movement, with parents who themselves were raised without any greater insight or knowledge about the history which lead to these living generations of Assyrians. I didn’t wake up until one of these loud and passionate Assyrians introduced herself to me and engaged in discussions with me. Discussions which did not only change how I view my people but also how I view myself and my own identity, which made me loud and passionate about my cause, or our cause rather.

It is this awakening that is needed across all continents and tiny islands where Assyrians live but it requires that we are open to the change within. Untill then we won’t see any real change and Assyrians will still be divided, still bickering and still bitching and arguing over nonsens. Still to busy impressing friends, neighbours and family with superficial things instead of rebuilding, teaching, understanding and loving. I salute Malta and all active Assyrians this evening with my hand on my heart wishing Assyrians all over the world one day can come together as one.

Zinda recently discovered Mr. Brikha and his writing from the island of Malta.  He's a writer, music producer, performer and photographer, and has a website where he posts his articles. To read more of Mr. Brikha's insights and to converse with him (he may indeed be the only Assyrian in Malta) please visit his blog here.

Assyrian Attire ... Civilization, Grace and Beauty

Mary Challita

Studying Assyrian artistic scenes as they are discovered during excavations; reflect a very important aspect of the Assyrians’ civilization and their grace, specially the murals which depict their fashions as well as ornamental elements adorning these outstanding sculptures.

Dr. Shahla abd el-Razzaq Bashir, a literature professor at Mosul’s university says:  The first thing noticed by a researcher into Assyrian attire, is that they were highly adorned, colorful and were intended as being festive and ritual, in particular the royal attire which was adorned with jewelry, golden ornaments and embroidered with colorful threads. The historical information shows that most of the attire was made of silk in addition to wool, linen and leather which were also used to adorn some clothes with golden and bronze embroidery. It’s known that King Sennacherib brought cotton as well as its trees and planted them, the tree then was known to the Assyrians as “the tree which gives wool”.

The Assyrians used legendary winged symbols, the sacred tree branches which were depicted in several styles and different forms of animals; these were embroidered on royal coats, in the middle of the piece and royal crowns using Lotus and Camomile flowers. It’s worthy noting that the Assyrians preserved without change a unity of themes and special ornamental methods throughout their rule, these adorning methods spread to neighboring peoples such as the Phoenicians, this shows the authenticity, grace and beauty of Assyrian attire.

Dr. Shahla adds that studying costumes and their methods, provide researchers with pointers and ideas about every day life then along with the actual work which was done on the sculptures and murals, in addition to details about the social life at the royal court including attire for religious ceremonies, clothes used for hunting, war and what the Kings wore when they were ill to chase away evil spirits.
It should be also mentioned that the influence of Assyrian fashions continued during later times and this influence can be also seen in Islamic arts and at present times, for if we reflect on the nature of clothes and fashions in the northern parts of Iraq, we can clearly see that the population of that area tend to prefer adorned clothes with deep and bight colors.

Colors used in Assyrian fashions and as the cuneiform texts show played a prominent role in explaining some of the common concepts at the time, specially the red, white and other colors derived from red which were extracted from plant, animal and mineral sources. For the Assyrians, the red color had several meanings including chasing away evil spirits while the white color symbolized purity, cleanliness and was worn by the King and his high priests during religious festivals.

The Assyrians’ inclination towards the deep, strong colors in their fashions presented a necessary harmony and the power of these colors when exposed to the sun showed the body’s lines and features.

Historians, Assyriologists, and Noted Writers have not been Kind to the Assyrians

Anthony T. Nasseri

In a modern age our historical interests, like all form of our behavior are subject to changes. Little over a century and half ago, the perception of contemporary historians, scholars  and noted writers about the complexity of Assyrian history was entirely overhauled, but not about  Assyrians, the people. It is the people that makes the history. The historical knowledge of western scholars, historians and writers was limited to what Jewish human prophets had professed about the historical events that took place between the Assyrian Empire, Judea and Israel. Those write-ups were compiled in the form of historical events in the Bible. Not withstanding the fact; who was created first. The Egg or the Hen.

For many centuries, western people believed their civilization was a gift inherited from the Roman Empire, followed by the Greece. While the Greek philosophers repeatedly wrote, that they have been benefited from an earlier civilization without an open reference to the ancient Empires of Mesopotamia.

When Napoleon Bonaparte came to the country of Egypt in 1799. He was confronted with pyramids, temple-cities, half buried in the desert sand. Guarded by the stone beasts called Sphinxes. His French scholars advised him, the existence of an ancient civilization. Through archeological efforts that followed, revealed to the western people, that a high civilization had existed in Egypt, long before he Roman and the Greek civilization. Was the origin of our civilization only in Egypt?

As logical as that conclusion would have seemed, the facts militated against it. But the ancient source of knowledge and wisdom of which they spoke was based elsewhere. Scholars knew of the Greek contacts with near-east. Culminating with the defeat of the Persian Empire by Alexander of Macedonia in 331 BC, and his extended stay until his death in Babylon.

Mesopotamia became part of Hellenistic world, during the Seleucid period of rule.  Seleucids, a Hellenic dynasty founded by Seleucus-I, ruled over Asia minor from 312-to 64 BC. Mesopotamia once again was invaded. This time by kingdom of Parthians, the people from the north-east of Iran. Who reached the height of its influence at the beginning of the fist century BC.  Followed by wars of domination by the Roman Empire and the Persians, extending  beyond the early Christianity. The Assyrians maintained their political identity through the rule by the Abgars dynasty from 609 BC, through 300 AD. Although, weak in power, but strong in culture.

Writing the history of ancient Assyria to conform with expectation of historian and historical science is one thing. Translation, pronunciation and editing the available records, which are to undergo the scrutiny only by critical historians leaving the remnants of their heritage aside is another. Although, the modern man does not believe the Assyrian still exist. The ancient Assyrians when preparing and recording their historical events did not imagined or foresee the demands to be made upon them by contemporary non-Assyrian Historian.

When Austin Henry Layard began his excavation at the sight of Nineveh in 1845, an Assyrian Hormuzd Rassam a remnant Assyrian from his ancestors, who was fluenin Aramaic, Arabic and English.  Assembled the best crew of workmen for the project. Commenced his initial duty in capacity of the paymaster. He became immensely useful to the initial archaeology project. Did it hurt the English archaeologist to employ an Assyrian by extracting the artifacts of his forefathers civilization? In fact Mr. Rassam  through his initial contribution to the success of the first archaeological project, earned the admiration of his employer.

When Sir. Austin H. Layard observed Rassam  dedication, loyalty and honest hard work. He rewarded him to enroll at university of Oxford to further his education. Mr. Rassam with added knowledge and experience, became an established archaeologist and a well informed Assyriologist. He was officially employed by the British Museum in several of its undertakings in northern, Iraq and elsewhere in Mesopotamia.

Although, I am not a proficient scholar nor a highly educated historian. Yet I feel the genius of my forefathers, with inheritance of their natural wisdom. Along with adequate historical knowledge through study and research of my ancestors civilization. Which compels me to recall the evolution of my thoughts, in order to advocate against mischievous representation by those semitics nations who replaced us. The present semitic people namely, some of the Persian, the Jews and the Arabs, also the Hellenics not only they have made a mockery of our history. Copied whatever they deemed it  necessary, such as names, language, literature and historical events,  to upgrade their own history. Also they have set a precedent to change our historical names of places, and of rulers to suit their purpose.

The Assyrian language differs in many respect from the other semitic people, because from the beginning, it has been a base language. The Assyrian dialect is subdivided into old Assyrian dialect (2000-1500)BC, middle Assyrian dialect (1500-1000) BC and neo Assyrian dialect (1000-600) BC. From eight century BC, Aramaic a semitic language penetrated the Assyrian society through Arameans, a nomadic tribe from Syrian desert became widespread as a spoken language. Gradually replacing the Akkadian writings scribes of cuneiform. The Aramaic was depicted in sculptured reliefs, continued working side by side with old language at that time. The Akkadian cuneiform writing was discontinued by 140 BC.

The alphabet of this Aramaic language was independent, but the analogy of the numbers of characters and their sounds was based on the Phoenician version. It is simple to write with pen and ink on paper or material. The old Aramaic dialect was in use from 975-to-700 BC. Standard dialect was in use  from 700-to-200 BC which became an international language of the area. Middle dialect was in use from 200 BC to 200 AD. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke this language. Later dialect reverted back to the standard dialect of 700 BC with an influence for adoption some words from  Persian, Turkish and European languages.

 The remnant of those Assyrians are very much alive today, in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Europe, Australia and the United States of America, we continue to read, write, and speak the Aramaic language and maintain our ancestors traditions. Although, we have become the wanderers of history, yet our struggle for survival and for achieving political recognition does continue.
The parallels  

To begin with, let us review similarities, of important events in the life of the ancient man. Deciphered on the clay tablets by the ancient Empires of Mesopotamia, in contrast to that recorded by the Jewish in the Bible, and ancient historical publication by Persian and the Arabs.

A-  The Creation

The seven tablets of creation from the famous library of Ashurbanipal Emperor of Nineveh, Assyria, presently stored at the British Museum in London, England. In the beginning the whole universe was a sea. Heaven at high had not been named, nor the earth beneath. The first who had being were the god Lachmu and goddess Lachamu. Then were created the god Anshar and goddess Kishar. Anu god of the sky, his consort Anatu. Ea god of the deep, Enki Lord of the earth, etc. Babylonian doctrine set forth that mankind was created not only to worship the gods. Also to bring about the redemption of the fallen gods who followed Tiamat. ( Just a briefed version.)

A-l  The creation in Genesis

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; ad the spirit of the God was moving over the face of the water. The God said, let us make a man in our image.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

B- The legend of Deluge

The gods assembled in the city of Shurippak the city by the banks of Euphrates. The council voted on the destruction of mankind by means of deluge. The vote and the decision were kept secret. But Enki searched out Ut-napishtim the ruler of the city to warn him of the approaching calamity. He also advised him to build a ship with dimensions 120 cubits wide and 120 cubits in height. To be smeared with bitumen inside and pitch outside, and to be ready I seven days. The launching was difficult, but after two-third of the structure had gone into the water of Euphrates. Ut-napishtim put all his family and kin aboard the ship, including all the craftsmen who had helped in building the ship. Whatever I had of all the living creatures, as well as the animal and wild beasts of the field.

The story of the Deluge (Flood) as told by the Mesopotamian writers preceeds that of the Biblical authorship.  From Mesopotamia this story was spead to Palestine where it was incorporated into the Biblical book of Genesis.  The hero of the story in Mesopotamia was known as Utnapishti.  In Genesis he is referred to as Noah.

The storm came with the first glow of dawn. There was an awesome thunder. A black cloud rose up from the horizon. Darkness followed, turning to blackness all that had been light; and the wide land was shattered like pot. For six days and six nights the south-storm gathering the speed as it blew. Submerging the land, mountains. Overtaking the people like a battle. When the seventh day arrived, the flood carrying south-storm subsided in the battle which had fought like an army. The sea grew quiet, the tempest was still, the flood ceased. Looking at weather stillness had set in, and all mankind had returned to clay. The will of Enlil and the assembly of gods was done.

Unknown to the gods, the scheme of Enki had also worked. Floating in the stormy waters was a vessel carrying men, women, children and other living creatures. With storm over, Ut-napishtim opened the hatch, light fell upon my face. He looked around the landscape was as level as a flat roof. Bowing low, he sat and wept, tears running on his face. Then there emerged a mountain region, on the mount of salvation the ship came to a halt. For six days Ut-napishtim watched from the motionless ark, caught in the peak of the mount of salvation. He sent out a dove to look for a resting place, but it came back. A swallow flew out and came back. Then a raven was set free and flew off, finding a resting place. Ut-napishtim then released all the birds and animals that were with him, and stepped out himself.

He built an alter and offered a sacrifice. The Gods smelled the sweet savor, crowded like flies around the alter. When Enlil finally arrived on the scene, he was hopping mad to discover that some humans had survived. Enki mixed denial with confession. It was not I who disclosed the secret of the gods. I merely let the man perceive by his own wisdom the gods decision, and let us not ignore his abilities. Enlil thereupon holding Ut-napishtim hand and took him and his wife aboard the ship. He stood between them, made his wife to kneel beside me, he touched our forehead to bless us. Henceforth Ut-napishtim and his wife shall be unto us like gods, and shall reside in the far away at the mouth of the waters.

B-l The story of flood in Genesis: 6-5 through – 8-11

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them. And God saw the earth, was filled with violence. For all the flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.

And God said to Noah, I have determined to make an end of all flesh. Behold I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make room in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. The length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. For behold I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven.

But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come to the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons wives with you. You shall bring two of every sort of birds and animals, male and female. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten. All the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the haven were opened.  And rain fell upon the earth forty days forty nights. And the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; and all flesh died that moved upon the earth.

At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven. Then he sent forth a dove, but the dove found no place and returned to the ark. He waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove out of the ark, and the dove came back to him in the evening and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that waters had subsided from the earth.

C- Sargon of Akkad: A mighty king of antiquity narrate his birth of 2,370 BC

My father was an alien, my mother was a vestal ( a virgin priestess). When my mother conceived me, launched me on the river of Euphrates, in a pitch covered basket. The river floated me to Akki. The water drawer. Akki educated me as his son. I was beloved by the goddess Ishtar, who assisted me to become a mighty king of Akkad.

C-1 Moses of the Bible: Exodus 2-1 through 2-10

Now a man from the house of Levi went and took to wife a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could hide him no longer she took for him a basket made of bulrushes, daubed it with bitumen and pitch; And she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds at the river’s brink. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, she saw the basket among the reeds and send her maid to fetch it. The child grew and became the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He named him Moses.

The Jewish tradition of divine wrath upon the Assyrian and Babylonians

Manifestation of anger - l

In 701 BC Sennacherib (Sankhiro-in-Assyrian) The Assyrian King marched against the king of Judah. A strong Assyrian force overrun Palestine, defeated the Egyptian troops at Eltekeh, took the rebel cities with exception of Jerusalem and rewarded loyal vassals in the Philistine cities with the grant of territories formerly belonging to Judah. Because of the new development in Babylonia necessitated the early return of Assyrian forces to the homeland, Sennacherib did not press the siege of Jesusalem, and Hezekiah’s city was spared by his submission and payment of Gold, silver, jewels, costly furniture, musicians and female slaves.

Wrath – 1     ( 2 Kings: 19-35-36)

And that night the angel of the Lord slew a hundred and eighty five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went home, and dwelt at Nineveh. Note: No such an incident has been recorded in the Assyrian History. Explanation: The camp of King Sennacherib army was visited in the night by swarms of the field mice which ate up the quivers, bows and the leather handles of shields.

Manifestation of anger – 2

In 597 BC Nebuchadrezzar II (Nebuchad-Nasir in Assyrian) sent force to besiege Jerusalem. (Ur.Shalim in Assyria=city of peace) Jehoiakim king of Judah had the good fortune to die during the siege, his son Jehoiachin, was taken captive to Babylon, together with nobility, craftsmen and troops.
In 589-570 BC The Egyptian forces invaded Palestine, took sidon and Jerusalem, Babylonia garrison was forced to retire. Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon reacted strongly. The Egyptian made a hurried withdrawal. Leaving their vassals to be dealt with piecemeal by the Babylonian forces. Jerusalem was blockaded for eighteen months, finally starved out. 586 BC Zedekia the last king of Judah was blinded and taken captive to Babylon. Anti-Babylonian leaders were put to death. Jerusalem looted, and a large section of population deported to Babylonia to undertake the agricultural work.

Wrath -2  Daniel   4: 28-33

All this came upon king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of royal palace of Babylon, and the king said, is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty? While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and you dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; and you shall be made to eat grass like an ox; and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the most high rules the kingdom of the men and gives it to whom he will. Immediately the word was fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men, and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagle’s feathers, and his nail were like bird’s claw.

Note:  No such an incident has been recorded in the Assyrian and Babylonia history.

Explanation:   Ten years of withdrawal of Nabu-na’id the king of Assyria and Babylon from his capital because of skin disease. H.W.F. Saggs a noted historian in his book The Greatness That Was Babylon page 149 writes. Quote: Another form of what is clearly the same Jewish tradition of divine wrath upon a new Babylonia king though in this case linked specifically with Nabu-na’id instead Nebuchadrezzer has appeared amongst the documents from Qumran the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls. Unquote.

The Languages

The Arabs, the Jews and the Greeks their alphabet characters have been derived from Assyrian Aramaic alphabet. They have twenty two characters, with same sound; particularly the Hebrew alphabet is a copy of same. Over forty percent of the Arab and Hebrew languages have  a mixture of Aramaic language.

The land occupied by four major empires of antiquity; namely Sumer, Babylon,  Akkad and Assyria is known as the land between two rivers. Only the Assyrian called their homeland: The land between two rivers. (Bit-Nahrin) The Greeks followed us with name of Mesopotamia, with exactly same meaning. Why is it all the scholars, noted writers, Assyriologists, are using foreign name when elaborating on our ancient civilization. For example: Sumer is incorrect. The Arab and Persian called it Sumer. The Jewish Call it Shinar. The Correct name “Shumer.”-Shumerian.

The analogy of the foregoing events does require proper consideration and clarification, by the noted contemporary scholars, historians, and writers. I assume for some particular reasons the answers contained in the Ashurbanipal library are being kept stagnant in the British museum of London,England. 

Gulf a Haven for Christian Communities 

Courtesy of the Gulf Times
15 March 2008
By Fran Gillespie

TODAY, when the first Catholic church in Qatar is consecrated by Cardinal Ivan Dias at Mesaimeer, a remarkable milestone in the history of Qatar will be reached. Although this is the first Catholic church in Qatar, it is not the first church.

Centuries ago, long before the Revelation of Islam in the 7th century AD, Christian communities flourished along the shores of the Arabian Gulf and southwards along the Indian Ocean. They were followers of the Nestorian doctrine, named after a Syrian monk, Nestorius, who died in 451 AD.

Christianity spread from its earliest home in Palestine and found homes among both Jewish and Hellenistic populations in both settled and nomadic territories. A 2nd century writer, Justin the Martyr, speaks of the spread of the faith among ‘tented herdsmen’. The first Christian king, Abgar, ruled from 177 -212 in what is now Iraq. The earliest church building yet found, at Dura on the Euphrates river, dates to the 3rd century. There is evidence of Christian monasteries located along the overland trade routes in the region and acting as caravanserai.

The historical recreation of the spread of Christianity in the Arabian Gulf is difficult and is complicated by the disappearance of many written records during the numerous early conflicts in the region. But what is known from Byzantine and Syrian ecclesiastical records is that there were five sees [bishoprics] on the western side of the Gulf by the early 5th century.

Qatar was one of the five, and the area included the whole peninsula. Along with Bahrain and the eastern seaboard of Saudi Arabia, it was known by the Syrian name of Beth Qatraye. The diocesan bishop in Qatar from c.650 onwards until at least 676 was Thomas. In that year a Council was held in Qatar to deal with some disciplinary issues which had been troubling the Gulf churches and the names of several bishops who attended the Council are recorded, including that of Bishop Thomas.

The see of Bahrain included the mainland, probably stretching from north of the present Jubail southwards through the Al Hasa oasis and including Qatif. Hatta is known to have had churches and bishops.

The other sees were Darin, now known as Tarut Island and situated just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Mashmahiq, which is the modern island of Muharraq, site of Bahrain Airport, and ‘Uman. The see of ‘Uman, which included Oman and the area included in the present-day United Arab Emirates, was based at Suhar and the province had links with India and East Africa.

One of the greatest of the pre-Islamic poets, Labid, was born in the mid-6th century. In later life he converted to Islam and was honoured by having some of his work chosen as mu’allaqat: written in gold letters and hung inside the holy Ka’aba. In early life Labid wrote a fascinating account of his travels down the east coast of Arabia and describes, as he approached settlements, the beating of clappers [naqus] of the churches calling the inhabitants to worship.

To date, no structures dating to the Christian era have yet been discovered in either Bahrain or Qatar, although it seems almost certain, from the records of bishops and councils that such structures must have existed, even if they were no more than barasti [palm leaf] huts. New and comprehensive archaeological surveys are currently taking place in Qatar, and it may well be that eventually the remains of ecclesiastical buildings will be found here.

Until a little over 20 years ago nothing was known about church buildings in the region. Then, in February 1986, a young Saudi national was driving his newly acquired 4x4 vehicle across some dunes near Jubail when he became stuck. As he was digging it out he came across the top of a wall which disappeared down into the sand.

Unfortunately, instead of contacting the Department of Antiquities the young man first informed the police. They brought in a local contractor who dug out the sand around the buried structure, doing considerable damage in the process. When a wall with distinctive crosses came to light the Department of Antiquities was immediately notified, and archaeologists then excavated the rest of the building and put a protective fence around it. The remains of other buildings could be seen beneath the sands, indicating that it was part of a small settlement.

The church complex consisted of a courtyard and three rooms on its east side. There were the remains of plaster decorated with crosses. The range of potsherds indicated that the church may have been in use from the 5th to the 9th centuries.

The finding of the church came as a considerable surprise, and because of its proximity to the coast Saudi archaeologists at first described it as a seafarers’ chapel. But Muslim archival statements about Islam’s tolerance of “the peoples of the book”, provided they paid their taxes, the site evidence and, later, the discovery of a second church not far away at Thaj suggests it is more likely to have been a parish or monastic structure situated within a stable community. Grave slabs with crosses crudely incised on them were found a few hundred metres away from the Jubail church.

The following year a church dating to the 5th to 6th centuries was found and excavated by French archaeologists on Failaka island off Kuwait. Again, plaster fragments were found, bearing traces of Nestorian-style crosses with flared arms, and other sacred art. There were several rooms around the central church, which had a nave and side aisles. Tombs were embedded in the walls of the side chapels.

In 1992 the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey began excavations on the island of Sir Bani Yas and over the course of several seasons uncovered a group of stone built and plastered houses, a large administrative building and a Christian monastic complex. The church was built on a low mound and had a nave, apse and two aisles, plus an adjacent complex of around 13 small rooms with enclosed courtyards.

The church was decorated with finely-made plaster motifs, with designs including typical Nestorian crosses, palm trees and grape vines bearing bunches of grapes. Most of them were on the inside of the building although there also appears to have been a frieze running around the outside of the eastern doorway. In 1996 a burial was found just outside the doorway, suggesting that this was a person of importance, perhaps a bishop or even the founder of the community.

The plaster had survived when the walls toppled over after the building was abandoned. There is no evidence of destruction; it was simply left to fall into ruin. All the evidence points to what is confirmed by Nestorian church records, that following the Revelation of Islam in 627 -629 the majority of the people of the Arabian Gulf, whether Christian or pagan, peacefully converted to Islam, the new faith being adopted by leaders like the Christian governor of Hasa Oasis in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.  Those Christians who chose to retain their beliefs were tolerated and continued to fill official posts.

The fact that the monastery on Sir Bani Yas survived into the Ummayid period, as is proved by the remains of datable pottery, showed that the occupants practised their religion freely during the early decades of the Islamic era.

The opening of the Catholic church of Our Lady of the Rosary today at Mesaimeer is, therefore, a symbol not only of historic importance but also of the freedom of worship which is guaranteed by the government of Qatar, just as it was in the earliest days of Islam.

Book Review:  Paul Batou's "My Last Thoughts About Iraq"

Camille-Yvette Weslch
Forward Magazine

Batou’s book is one of longing, for a lost civilization, a dispersed people, an ancient beauty still moldering under the remains of Baghdad. These poems might easily be characterized as extended lament. Batou approaches them from multiple perspectives, from lost son to gypsy guitar player, but in all of the poems, loss figures prominently as it has for thousands of years in the region.

A recent painting titled "The Last Supper" by the Assyrian artist, Paul Batou.

Batou approaches his subject in many ways, through music, painting, and words. He carefully introduces the circumstances from which modern Iraq has evolved, then offers reproductions of his paintings so that readers might experience the turmoil in a new way. The book then makes its way into poems which take place both in Iraq and in the United States where Batou has made his life. Unfortunately, the United States is never fully home to Batou; like other immigrants before him, he never finds himself fully integrated into American culture.

Many of the poems in this volume cover the same territory, laments to God over what has been lost, ruminations on the glory that was, prayers for what might be. He writes of isolation in “Journey with Ishtar”: “We live as strangers in different lands. / We live as drunks with no alcohol.” Batou likens himself to the gypsies, forever wandering, forever singing his lament. He mourns in “Iraqi Freedom,” “My sadness is written on rocks and clay, / Placed in museums around the planet. / My stories and sadness were stolen by strangers and thieves.” Batou tries to explain the devastation wrought by the Iraqi war. He urges his readers to remember with him the songs of folk singers, the ease of the elderly resting in the shade, the joy of a new bride.

While initially the poems have persuasive, mournful power, the edge is dulled by repetition. Rather than delving into new ways to figure the city and her history, Batou sticks to a few central images and ideas: tiny villages, simple suffering people, spiritual lands. In creating images, the poet might further explore the power of figurative language. With a history as rich as Mesopotamia’s, Batou has innumerable options for language, allusion, and image, but he fails to mine it as fully as he might. He lingers too long reestablishing loss in every poem. He would do well to trust the progression inherent in a volume, and build on the history and long literary tradition of this place he so loves.

Camille-Yvette Welsch is an instructor of English and the Advising Coordinator for Undergraduate Studies in English and American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her work has appeared in Barrow Street, Mid-American Review, The Women's Review of Books, Calyx and Red Cedar Review, among others.

It is the Death of History

Courtesy of the Independent (London)
Special investigation by Robert Fisk
First Published on 17 September 2007

2,000-year-old Sumerian cities torn apart and plundered by robbers. The very walls of the mighty Ur of the Chaldees cracking under the strain of massive troop movements, the privatisation of looting as landlords buy up the remaining sites of ancient Mesopotamia to strip them of their artefacts and wealth. The near total destruction of Iraq's historic past – the very cradle of human civilisation – has emerged as one of the most shameful symbols of our disastrous occupation.

Evidence amassed by archaeologists shows that even those Iraqis who trained as archaeological workers in Saddam Hussein's regime are now using their knowledge to join the looters in digging through the ancient cities, destroying thousands of priceless jars, bottles and other artefacts in their search for gold and other treasures.

In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, armies of looters moved in on the desert cities of southern Iraq and at least 13 Iraqi museums were plundered. Today, almost every archaeological site in southern Iraq is under the control of looters.

In a long and devastating appraisal to be published in December, Lebanese archaeologist Joanne Farchakh says that armies of looters have not spared "one metre of these Sumerian capitals that have been buried under the sand for thousands of years.

"They systematically destroyed the remains of this civilisation in their tireless search for sellable artefacts: ancient cities, covering an estimated surface area of 20 square kilometres, which – if properly excavated – could have provided extensive new information concerning the development of the human race.

"Humankind is losing its past for a cuneiform tablet or a sculpture or piece of jewellery that the dealer buys and pays for in cash in a country devastated by war. Humankind is losing its history for the pleasure of private collectors living safely in their luxurious houses and ordering specific objects for their collection."

Ms Farchakh, who helped with the original investigation into stolen treasures from the Baghdad Archaeological Museum in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, says Iraq may soon end up with no history.

"There are 10,000 archaeological sites in the country. In the Nassariyah area alone, there are about 840 Sumerian sites; they have all been systematically looted. Even when Alexander the Great destroyed a city, he would always build another. But now the robbers are destroying everything because they are going down to bedrock. What's new is that the looters are becoming more and more organised with, apparently, lots of money.

"Quite apart from this, military operations are damaging these sites forever. There's been a US base in Ur for five years and the walls are cracking because of the weight of military vehicles. It's like putting an archaeological site under a continuous earthquake."

Of all the ancient cities of present-day Iraq, Ur is regarded as the most important in the history of man-kind. Mentioned in the Old Testament – and believed by many to be the home of the Prophet Abraham – it also features in the works of Arab historians and geographers where its name is Qamirnah, The City of the Moon.

Founded in about 4,000 BC, its Sumerian people established the principles of irrigation, developed agriculture and metal-working. Fifteen hundred years later – in what has become known as "the age of the deluge" – Ur produced some of the first examples of writing, seal inscriptions and construction. In neighbouring Larsa, baked clay bricks were used as money orders – the world's first cheques – the depth of finger indentations in the clay marking the amount of money to be transferred. The royal tombs of Ur contained jewellery, daggers, gold, azurite cylindrical seals and sometimes the remains of slaves.

US officers have repeatedly said a large American base built at Babylon was to protect the site but Iraqi archaeologist Zainab Bah-rani, a professor of art history and archaeology at Columbia University, says this "beggars belief". In an analysis of the city, she says: "The damage done to Babylon is both extensive and irreparable, and even if US forces had wanted to protect it, placing guards round the site would have been far more sensible than bulldozing it and setting up the largest coalition military headquarters in the region."

Air strikes in 2003 left historical monuments undamaged, but Professor Bahrani, says: "The occupation has resulted in a tremendous destruction of history well beyond the museums and libraries looted and destroyed at the fall of Baghdad. At least seven historical sites have been used in this way by US and coalition forces since April 2003, one of them being the historical heart of Samarra, where the Askari shrine built by Nasr al Din Shah was bombed in 2006."

The use of heritage sites as military bases is a breach of the Hague Convention and Protocol of 1954 (chapter 1, article 5) which covers periods of occupation; although the US did not ratify the Convention, Italy, Poland, Australia and Holland, all of whom sent forces to Iraq, are contracting parties.

Ms Farchakh notes that as religious parties gain influence in all the Iraqi pro-vinces, archaeological sites are also falling under their control. She tells of Abdulamir Hamdani, the director of antiquities for Di Qar province in the south who desperately – but vainly – tried to prevent the destruction of the buried cities during the occupation. Dr Hamdani himself wrote that he can do little to prevent "the disaster we are all witnessing and observing".

In 2006, he says: "We recruited 200 police officers because we were trying to stop the looting by patrolling the sites as often as possible. Our equipment was not enough for this mission because we only had eight cars, some guns and other weapons and a few radio transmitters for the entire province where 800 archaeological sites have been inventoried.

"Of course, this is not enough but we were trying to establish some order until money restrictions within the government meant that we could no longer pay for the fuel to patrol the sites. So we ended up in our offices trying to fight the looting, but that was also before the religious parties took over southern Iraq."

Last year, Dr Hamdani's antiquities department received notice from the local authorities, approving the creation of mud-brick factories in areas surrounding Sumerian archaeological sites. But it quickly became apparent that the factory owners intended to buy the land from the Iraqi government because it covered several Sumerian capitals and other archaeological sites. The new landlord would "dig" the archaeological site, dissolve the "old mud brick" to form the new one for the market and sell the unearthed finds to antiquity traders.

Dr Hamdani bravely refused to sign the dossier. Ms Farchakh says: "His rejection had rapid consequences. The religious parties controlling Nassariyah sent the police to see him with orders to jail him on corruption charges. He was imprisoned for three months, awaiting trial. The State Board of Antiquities and Heritage defended him during his trial, as did his powerful tribe. He was released and regained his position. The mud-brick factories are 'frozen projects', but reports have surfaced of a similar strategy being employed in other cities and in nearby archaeological sites such as the Aqarakouf Ziggarat near Baghdad. For how long can Iraqi archaeologists maintain order? This is a question only Iraqi politicians affiliated to the different religious parties can answer, since they approve these projects."

Police efforts to break the power of the looters, now with a well-organised support structure helped by tribal leaders, have proved lethal. In 2005, the Iraqi customs arrested – with the help of Western troops – several antiquities dealers in the town of Al Fajr, near Nasseriyah. They seized hundreds of artefacts and decided to take them to the museum in Baghdad. It was a fatal mistake.

The convoy was stopped a few miles from Baghdad, eight of the customs agents were murdered, and their bodies burnt and left to rot in the desert. The artefacts disappeared. "It was a clear message from the antiquities dealers to the world," Ms Farchakh says.

The legions of antiquities looters work within a smooth mass-smuggling organisation. Trucks, cars, planes and boats take Iraq's historical plunder to Europe, the US, to the United Arab Emirates and to Japan. The archaeologists say an ever-growing number of internet websites offer Mesopotamian artefacts, objects anywhere up to 7,000 years old.

The farmers of southern Iraq are now professional looters, knowing how to outline the walls of buried buildings and able to break directly into rooms and tombs. The archaeologists' report says: "They have been trained in how to rob the world of its past and they have been making significant profit from it. They know the value of each object and it is difficult to see why they would stop looting."

After the 1991 Gulf War, archaeologists hired the previous looters as workers and promised them government salaries. This system worked as long as the archaeologists remained on the sites, but it was one of the main reasons for the later destruction; people now knew how to excavate and what they could find.

Ms Farchakh adds: "The longer Iraq finds itself in a state of war, the more the cradle of civilisation is threatened. It may not even last for our grandchildren to learn from."


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Assyrians at Their Best

Assyrian Association in Tehran to Pay tribute to Photographer Yaghobzadeh

Courtesy of Tehran Times
6 April 2008

Assyrian-Iranian Photographer, Alfred Yaghobzadeh

(ZNDA: Tehran)  The Assyrian Association of Tehran and its representative office in Majlis are to pay tribute to the world famous Assyrian photographer, Alfred Yaghobzadeh, for his great endeavor in registering the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war scenes.

Yaghobzadeh who was active as a photographer during the Iran-Iraq war took unforgettable photos of the bravery of Iranian men and women.

His tribute will take place at the venue of Ishtar Art Gallery on its opening day on April 19, displaying a selection of Yaghobzadeh’s recent works.

Yaghobzadeh began his photography career with the Iran-Iraq war.  He later cooperated with the Associated Press.  He also worked as a photographer for Sipa Press in France for over two decades.

His main photographic activities are on wartime in Lebanon. He took pictures for 13 years amongst the Palestinians fighting Israeli forces.

Yaghobzadeh has great experience portraying the traditions and religious ceremonies of over 24 countries.

He has won the first prize at the World Press Photo and the first prize of the National Press Photographers Association in the U.S.

"Gaza" shot by Yaghobzadeh on 22 June 2007

In addition, Yaghobzadeh was also a member of photo selection team in World Press Photo Festival in Netherlands in 2004.

For more information on Alfred Yaghobzadeh visit his personal website at alfredyaghobzadeh.com.


Mr. Yaghobzadeh has been wounded twice, while working in Chechniya and Lebanon.  He's covered wars and authored three books, the last one titled "Les Chrétiens du monde" (click here).  He was kidnapped and then released while on assignment in Gaza in March 2006.


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

Fred Aprim California
Jacklin Bejan California
Alda Benjamin Canada
Dr. Matay Beth Arsan Holland
Mazin Enwiya Chicago
Joseph Haweil Australia
Nineb Lammasu United Kingdom
Afram Koumy New Jersey
Petr Kubálek Czech Republic
Maryam Pirayou California
James Y. Rayis Georgia
Jean-Paul Sliva France

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