Thursday, July 22, 2004

Fears of The Iraqi Christians

 
Since I started my blog, I tried to be neutral when it comes to Iraqi ethnic groups and religious sectors. Today, I'm going to talk about the concerns of Iraqi Christians as their situation is not getting better.

I know many of my readers are more concerned to prove it's all shiny and beautiful in Iraq than to admit the problems still ahead of us. You may not like what I'm going to write. Let me say it up front: If you're looking for good news today, this is not the right post to read.

Someone needs to pay attention to the Christian minority in Iraq. Things are getting worse for them and NOBODY is willing to admit it. I'm sure 2004 being an election year is part of the problem and not having female Christian bloggers reporting from inside Iraq is another problem. I know someone in Basra with good English skills. But, I doubt she's willing to blog. Her struggles as a Christian female in Basra are enough for her these days.


THE BAD

According to this report by the Christian Science Monitor, 102 Christians were killed since April 9, 2003. Reasons for killing:

  • Selling alcohol.

    Most Iraqi liquor stores are owned by Christians. Saddam didn't allow Muslims to open liquor stores. Even though it may seem like he acted as a good Muslim, I think his intentions were bad. He predicted the future. It worked. Bastard.

    The new Iraqi government allows Muslims to open liquor stores. Well, that's bad too as they're getting death threats from the Islamic radical groups. Both Christians and Muslims are losing their lives to make a living for their families.

  • Working with Americans as translators or laundresses.

    Most Iraqi Christians speak English well. It may be due to speaking multiple languages at an early age. Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac or Armenian language is the first language for many of us. Most of us mastered the Arabic language after enrolling in elementary school. So, learning English at school wasn't a problem.

    Also we don't have a problem working as translators. We're called traitors because of working for the Americans. It's a well paid job and there is nothing wrong with working as a translator. Unfortunately, this makes Christians who work for the Americans targets to the radical groups.

  • About 10 percent were killed by coalition troops, casualties of postwar violence.

    Well, there isn't much we can do about it. I don't think the American troops mean to shoot Iraqis whether they're Christians or Muslims. Most of these accidents happen when both sides overreact to any suspicious move. Others are dying when being in an area where terrorists decide to bomb. Oh sure, the terrorists are trying to help the Iraqi people. Killing them is not the way to help. How about the terrorists leave the country and return to where they came from.

  • Many were kidnapped and killed for money, a fate that befalls Muslims, too.

    Most Iraqis think the Christian community is rich because they have family members living aboard. That's not true even with rich family members living outside Iraq. These family members are busy building their lives, raising their kids and paying their bills. That's how life is.



THE GOOD

Australia has started accepting Iraqi Christian refugees this year. Since, Christians heard the news, they started traveling to Jordan and Syria to apply for immigration to Australia. This would be good if Australia could accept an unlimited number of refugees. However, there is a limited number of asylum seekers the country can accept each year. This year, the Australian government increased the number of visas under different immigration programs. I hope this has nothing to do with the Australian elections, which are coming in a few months. In a way, I don't care much. As long as there is hope, a number of Christian families may find a secure life in Australia, let it be an election move by John Howard.

Now, someone might ask, why aren't we fighting back? See, our bishops and priests are different than yours. Ours planted the teachings of Jesus in our head at an early age. Starting from "If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too," and ending with "Love your enemies and bless those who curse you." They're so afraid for our lives as a minority. And, by teaching us to become peaceful, we transformed to sheep who can't do anything because we think complaining is wrong and we should be able to live in harmony with the rest of the country.

That's good, but the only choice left for us is to leave the country. That's bad because the non-Christians think we're chickens and don't care about what's happening in the country. Again, we're called traitors and other names.

Under this link you'll find an interview with Rev. Jean Benjamin Sleiman, Latin-rite (Roman Catholic) archbishop of Baghdad. He's a great guy. You'll understand more of our struggles after reading this interview.


THE BEST

Since the Iraqi census in 1977, Iraqi Christians have been forced to write "Arabs" as their ethnic group. I remember my parents argument with the census officer at the time. We wrote "Chaldean" as our ethnicity group. He told us that's not acceptable anymore and changed it to "Arab." Do you think we were able to do anything about it? No. Some people still think Saddam treated us well. Sure, right.

Starting with the next census, Iraqi Christians, including Chaldean, Assyrian and Syriac minorities will be recognized as "ChaldoAssyrian" ethnic group. This good news did make my day.


I'm sure Iyad Allawi knows of the struggles facing the Christian community. I'm not sure what's on his priority list. I hope helping this community is on the top of his list.

I hope someone reading this post could help. I can talk about it longer. But, what's the point if people aren't interested in listening to what I'm saying. Let's just pretend all is happy and beautiful.




Arabic Word of The Post :

translator (masculine) :  مترجم - / mooter - jim /
translator (feminine) :  مترجمة - / mooter-jeema /

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