Monday, November 10, 2008

Iraqi refugees

Q: How many families are you helping now?

A: About 15. The total coming is about 80. They're coming to Turlock and Modesto because there's such a large population of Assyrians here.

Q: How do they get to the San Joaquin Valley?

A: They're originally from Iraq, and because of the war they had to leave. They left either to Jordan or to Syria or Turkey, and they just wait there until the United Nations gets all their papers together. They're coming here as legal immigrants. They all have green cards. They can work. They need jobs. We need trucks to help delivery of these items. All these stores are calling saying we have all this stuff for you but you need to come get it. We need trucks, just people helping.

Q: Aside from things like furniture and cash, you're also providing services, is that right?

A: If they have to go to the doctor, we take them to the doctor. Ninety percent of the time, we have to go in the room with them because the doctor does not understand them and vice versa. Anything you have to do every day, they have to do every day, too, but they don't have the skills, they don't have the language and they don't know the people.

The above is from Adam Ashton's "Iraqi refugees get help in adapting to U.S. life" (The Modesto Bee) which is an interview with Esther Warda of Light From The East and an extended version of the text interview is available in audio form here (click on "Media: Valley Voices: Esther Warda" at the right). Iraqi Christians are a small part of the country's overall population; however, they make up a large number of the five million internal and external refuegees (that's the number the Obama team is now using) with some estimates saying that they make up 44% of the external refugees. Last month saw Iraqi Christians targeted in Mosul and there has still no explanation for who was behind that violence. Jennifer Riley (Christian Post) noted yesterday morning, "Christians worldwide will pray for the persecuted church on Sunday with special emphasis this year on Christians in India and Iraq. . . . Meanwhile in Iraq, more than 13,000 Christians were displaced in the northern city of Mosul within two weeks in the month of October. The massive exodus in a country where Christians make up only two percent of the population was sparked by a series of murders and death threats by unknown Muslim militants."
This is a press release, we'll note it in full:

Persecution of Christians On the Rise Worldwide, ACN Report Reveals
11/10/2008 - 10:11 AM PST

Catholic PRWire

Brooklyn, New York (November 10, 2008) -- Offering a glimpse into the lives of millions of victimized Christians, and featuring interviews with leading religious from many of today's war-torn regions, a newly released report from Aid to the Church in Need entitled Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2007-2008 tells the sad story of the often ignored suffering and persecution of Christians that is ongoing today.

Staggering Statistics Revealed: 550 Million Christians Affected

Today, more than 200 million Christians suffer for their faith, each day threatened with murder and other acts of violence. An additional 350 million Christians are thought to suffer lesser degrees of oppression, including discrimination and restrictions on the practice of their religion. These are just two of the staggering statistics included in Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2007-2008.

A Catastrophe Virtually Ignored

"The persecution of Christians in our world today amounts to a human rights disaster. It is a catastrophe that has been ignored by the media, almost as if a news black-out has been enforced. This book, Persecuted and Forgotten? which looks at those countries where Christians suffer for their faith, helps to redress the balance, putting on record the trials and tribulations people face for remaining true to their beliefs," says Archbishop George Casmoussa of Mosul, Iraq, just one of many religious interviewed for this book.

The Church's Survival Under Threat

The research, conducted by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), an international charity which aids the suffering and persecuted Church, shows that, in the past two years, acts of violence and intimidation against Christians have intensified in 17 out of the 30 countries under investigation. The findings presented in the charity's report show that the Church's survival is now under threat in Algeria, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq and Palestine. Based on first-hand reports and interviews with leading clergy, the book highlights the way in which the rise of religious extremism, combined with nationalism, have marginalized Christians, who are often labeled as agents of Western interference. Covering suffering and persecution of Christians in countries such as China, India, Israel/Palestine and Pakistan, Persecuted and Forgotten? offers an overview of the situation for Christians in each country before detailing significant incidents of violence and intimidation as well as key pronouncements by political and religious leaders.

Report Release Information:

This 112-page report is now available in paperback book format for a suggested donation of $15 by contacting ACN at 800-628-6333. Persecuted and Forgotten? is published by Aid to the Church in Need, its publication partly sponsored by a benefactor of the organization.

About ACN:
Aid to the Church in Need was founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten after he witnessed firsthand the ravages of war. The young Norbertine priest had a mission -- to shed light on the suffering and persecuted of the world. For his lifelong commitment to the most vulnerable of God’s people, Father Werenfried was named an Outstanding Apostle of Charity by John Paul II. Now, more than 60 years later, ACN's family of faithful continue to fulfill Fr. Werenfried's mission.

Each year, under the guidance of the Holy Father and with the support of ACN's benefactors, Aid to the Church in Need supports more than 5,000 projects in 145 countries across the globe. Our eight key programs are: Support of Formations, Distribution of Spiritual Literature, Construction of Churches, Transportation for Religious, Aid to Refugees, Care for Elderly Religious, Mass Offerings for Poor Priests, and Media Outreach.


For more information, contact Michael Varenne at 800-628-6333 or via email at Aid to the Church in Need can be reached by mail at:

Aid to the Church in Need
725 Leonard Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Contact: Aid to the Church in Need NY, 11222 US
Michael Varenne - Production Manager, 718-609-0939
Keywords: Persecution
Category: Catholic Publications

Last night we noted Katherine Zoepf and Sam Dagher's "Iraq Gives Religious Minorities Fewer Seats Than the U.N. Suggested" (New York Times) and especially Leila Fadel's "Minorities, the victim of the powers that be?" (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) on how pretty words by Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, didn't translate to any improvement or restoration in the represenation. Tina Susman's "Iraq approves minority quotas on provincial councils" (Los Angeles Times) notes:

Lawmakers on Monday approved the quota, which gives Christians and three other minorities a total of six reserved seats split among the governing councils in Baghdad, Nineveh and Basra provinces. The United Nations' special representative in Iraq had recommended 12 minority seats, a number Christian legislators had supported.
The three councils have a total of 129 members.
In a statement after Saturday's ratification, the chief of staff for the presidency council, Naseer Ani, said its members had consulted with Vatican representatives and held "extensive discussion" about the bill. They considered the U.N. recommendations but decided to ratify the legislation unchanged, he said.

They consulted minimally with the Vatican and blew it off. Susman notes MP Younadam Kanna who is a Christian and states that they will boycott the provincial elections.

Ned Parker's "In Iraq, Muqtada Sadr's followers struggle for relevance" (Los Angeles Times) argues that Moqtada al-Sadr's influence is declining -- a point that's been argued many times before and proven false. Parker notes the US military credits al-Sadr's cease-fire for the (small) decline in violence but Iraqi soldiers now patrol Sadr City and they've taken over a "dirt lot where people once prayed on Friday afternoons" while some al-Sadr fighters are thought to be splintering off and ignoring the cease-fire ("others in Sadr City whisper about Mahdi Army loyalists who have started to set off explosives or shoot Iraqi soldiers at close range"). Parker notes:

Sadr's troubles are rooted in the fighting between his militia and Iraqi security forces that erupted in March after Prime Minister Nouri Maliki ordered the army to clear the militia's strongholds in the southern city of Basra. The clashes there ended only when Sadr commanded his militia to stand down, and then did the same in Sadr City six weeks later.

Lynda notes Alexander Cockburn's interview with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, "Hail To The Chief of Staff" (CounterPunch):

AC: How many votes did you get? This year and in the last two campaigns?

[Nader]: Probably 700,000. In 2000 it was 2.8 million. In 2004, 450,000. But those figures don’t tell the story. In New York this time for example it was almost impossible to find me on the ballot.

AC What about you calling him an Uncle Tom on Fox?

Nader: On Fox I said that as the first African American president we wish him well. The question is, will he be Uncle Sam for the people or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations which are driving America into the ground. Fox cut it off after "corporations". He is less vulnerable to criticism and harder to criticize because of his race. When I said he was talking White Man's talk, the PC people got really upset. It doesn't matter that he sides with destruction of the Palestinians, and sides with the embargo. It doesn't matter that he turns his back on 100 million people and won’t even campaign in minority areas. It doesn't matter than he wants a bigger military budget, and an imperial foreign policy supporting various adventures of the Bush administration. It doesn't matter that he's for the death penalty ,which is targeted at minorities. But if you say one thing that isn't PC, you get their attention. I tell college audiences, a gender, racial or ethnic slur gets you upset, reality doesn't get you upset. Can Obama speak truth to the white power structure? There's every indication he doesn't want to. For example, in February he stiffed the State of the Black Union annual meeting in New Orleans. He's a very accommodating personality.

The e-mail address for this site is

the new york times
sam dagher
katherine zoepf
leila fadel
mcclatchy newspapers

ned parker