Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Iraqi Christians

All of a sudden the Christian woman broke down crying making it more difficult to understand what she was saying other than “kaneesa... kaneesa” or “church... church”. But there was no need for words to explain how she was feeling.
The October 31st siege of the Sayidat al-Najat Church in Baghdad, the worst attack on Iraq’s Christian minority in the past seven years, was a horrific hours-long hostage ordeal that left 53 Christians dead. This attack and others that have followed have left many in the dwindling community paralyzed by fear.
The Muslim woman, all teary eyed, put her hand on the Christian’s and looked up at me “See what they have done to our country? ... They have separated the Iraqis... The Christians are good people and now look what they are doing to them”
For these two women there are memories of better days in Iraq; days of less freedoms, but more security. Days that many of Iraq’s older generation reminisce over as they repeatedly tell you about how all Iraqis Shiite, Sunni and Christian coexisted in harmony.

The above is from Jomana Karadsheh's "Leaving on a Jet Plane . . ." (CNN) about what she encountered in the airport, people she knew and strangers -- all leaving Iraq -- Iraqis leaving due to the violence. The October 31st assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad is referred to. The Daily Star (link has text and audio) reports that Angel Raphael Cathedral in Hazmieh, Beirut held a ceremony on Sunday to remember the Christians slaughtered in the assault. Michal Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement spoke and is quoted stating, "What is happening in IRaq today raises the question why Iraqi Christians are being murdered. Killing is unnaceptable, especially when aimed at those who remain peaceful." In related news, Catholic Culture adds, "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is praising a House resolution calling for the protection of Iraq's religious minorities." CNN notes that it "was introduced shortly before Thanksgiving by a bipartisan group of seven members of Congress." The unnamed resolution is HR 1725 and the summary is: "Condemning and deploring the murderous attacks, bombings, kidnappings, and threats against vulnerable religious communities in Iraq, in particular the attack against Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad on October 31, 2010, and for other purposes." The resolution can be read in full at the length and the seven supporters of it include House Reps Anna G. Eschoo, Chris Smith, Frank Wolf, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett and Mark Steven Kirk -- Eschoo and Wolf are co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus.

Moving over to take-it-with-a-grain-of-salt, Alsumaria TV states, "Iraqi Interior Ministry Special Forces thwarted an attempt by a suicide bomber to blow up a vehicle by the French Embassy in Karrada, central Baghdad. The car bomb was seized and the suicide bomber was arrested in a house near the building of the French Embassy." "Grain of salt" is not meant as an insult to Alsumaria, it is meant to say that Nouri's government is known for announcements (which don't pan out) and for show confessions. BNO news notes, "It was not specified when the attack was to take place or at which location the suicide bomber was supposed to strike. However, the interior ministry told officials of several countries that the arrest of a dozen of individuals involved in the church attack led to the disruption of the embassy bombing plot."

If true -- big if -- the question to ask would be was the French embassy the target and, if so, why? Considering the Iraqi government attacks on France, would it really be a surprise. (For those late to the party, France provided victims of the October 31st attack and their families with medial assistance and offers of asylum and this led Nouri and others to publicly attack France and to state it was a conspiracy.) Also, on Sunday, rumors that the French embassy in the KRG was offering visas led to hundreds and hundreds of Christians showing up. The KRG is a lot more secure than the rest of Iraq and if you were going to attack one of France's embassies in Iraq, the Baghdad one would be the easier target. This entire paragraph is speculation. Even if it 'feels true' to you remember it is speculation. France may or may not have been targeted, the Iraqi forces may or may not have arrested a suicide bomber.

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from David Swanson's "Stop These Wars Or We'll Fill Your Jails" (OpEdNews):

Here's an easy question: would you rather go to jail for a few hours with a bunch of friends or die?

Here's a poorly kept secret: the wars that a majority of Americans want ended are not ending, and the war machine that a majority of Americans want cut back is growing.

Here's a situation that is not secret at all but too horrifying for us to acknowledge: if the war machine continues on its current course, we will not survive it economically, environmentally, or with any civil liberties or representative government intact. If we do not reach those catastrophes it will be because blowback or nuclear proliferation takes us out first.

You may not die for the Pentagon, but if you do not it will be your children or grandchildren. Would you rather go to jail for a few hours with a bunch of friends or see your grandchildren killed? Is the question getting easier?

Here's a well kept secret: many Americans are doing something about it, and Veterans for Peace is taking the lead. We're going to the White House on Thursday, December 16th: http://stopthesewars.org

You may have other obligations, but do they outweigh what's at stake here? How about this question: If you cannot risk arrest at the White House with us on December 16th to stop these wars, can you be there in support? Can you help with transportation or take photos and shoot videos and write reports? If you cannot be there in support, can you phone Congress and the media and demand the defunding of the war machine and an end to wars opposed by majorities of Americans in every poll?

The last time I was arrested at the White House we were "processed" at a table outside a jail and never entered any jail at all. Yes, it takes hours to do what could take minutes. Yes, the handcuffs pinch. But doesn't the knowledge that we are bombing families in other countries pinch a little too?

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends