Friday, January 07, 2011

Iraqi Christians (and an editorial board practicing avoidance)

AFP reports an attack on a police officer's Baghdad home this morning resulting in 5 members of his family being killed. The violence has not faded with the so-called formation of a Cabinet by Nouri al-Maliki. Alsumaria TV reports, "Al Qaeda in Iraq is targeting Christians in their homes after Iraqi authorities increased protection around the minority group's churches, said Lieutenant General Robert Cone, the U.S. deputy commanding general for operations in Iraq. 'Al Qaeda has shifted to try and go after the Christians where they live,' Cone told Reuters." Exactly. (See December 31st entry: "Something to remember about yesterday's attacks is the climate Iraqi Christians in Baghdad (and Mosul) were already living in. Many families had stopped sending their children to school in the weeks following the October 31st attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church, thinking that their homes could provide the safety the government could not. Now their homes themselves have become targets.") Rhodri Davies (Al Jazeera) reports:

The Bishop of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Irbil in northern Iraq denied my request to talk to him about Christians in the country.
"You can see the life of the community here," he said, before finishing post-service greetings and embraces with his flock at St Joseph's church in Ainkawa, a Christian suburb of Iraqi Kurdistan's capital.
He was right. I had just seen a 500-stong Chaldean congregation - an independent Christian Church that has been in Iraq since the 2nd Century - attend Sunday evening mass.
It appeared to be a resilient and devout community that conveyed buoyancy and longevity.
Septuagenarian women in traditional red and black local dress sat alongside teenage girls adorned in perfume.
A choir of 30 members sang hymns from a balcony, above families who arrived from the darkness outside to acknowledgements from community members within.
Collection plates were filled and warm interactions conducted post-service.
But the bishop was correct in another perhaps unintended sense about the life of Iraq's Christian community.
There were also four guards carrying Kalashnikov rifles on the gates to the church compound. This presence at evening time was up from the two armed men that patrolled during the day.

The editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor completely ignores the targeting of Iraqi Christians in an editorial supposedly on where Iraq should go next:

The newly formed government in Iraq faces a to-do list as long as the Euphrates River that courses through this bomb-battered country. As tempting as it may be to tackle every need at once – they all seem so urgent – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must set priorities.
He acknowledges that. But the ministers in his vast “unity government” – there are 42 cabinet posts – will undoubtedly have their own agendas. After parliamentary elections last March, it took nine months of negotiation to piece together a government of Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, announced Dec. 21.
Now the really hard part begins, bettering the lives of the governed. But where to start?

Where to start? Obviously not with the persecuted but, rest assured, the editorial board does remember Iraqi oil. Strangely for a supposed look at the state of Iraq, the issue of justice or the courts never shows up in the editorial. We'll again note this from Hayder al-Khoei (Guardian):

However, there was another thorny issue behind his absence: Sadr is still wanted by the Iraqi judiciary for his alleged involvement in my father's murder eight years ago.
The arrest warrant for Sadr stands to this day as Iraqi judge Raed al-Juhi signed it in April 2004. Juhi is the investigative judge who presided over the first hearing of the Dujail massacre that eventually led to Saddam Hussein's execution in December 2006.
The fact that Sadr was not arrested upon his arrival this week says a lot about Iraq's new government and its claimed dedication to integrity.

Maad Fayad (Asharq Alawsat) reports

Khoei, the former secretary-general of the Imam al-Khoei Foundation in London who was assassinated in 2003 in Najaf has threatened to internationalize this case if the Iraqi judiciary fails to take legal action against Moqtada al-Sadr, whom the family consider to be "the prime suspect in the murder of al-Khoei." Al-Khoei was killed in the holy city of Najaf on 10 April 2003 at the hands of followers of Moqtada al-Sadr.
Haidar al-Khoei, who is the son of the late Imam, spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat in London on Wednesday, following news that Moqtada al-Sadr had returned to Najaf after spending almost four years in Iran. Haidar al-Khoei told Asharq Al-Awsat that "our family trusts the Iraqi judiciary. However the Iraqi judiciary and government are facing an important practical test today to undertake legal proceedings and enforce the law by arresting Moqtada al-Sadr, as an arrest warrant was issued for him by an investigative judge in Najaf in 2004. If this does not happen, we will be forced to go to the United Nationals, on the basis that the Imam al-Khoei Foundation has a seat at the UN, as a non-governmental organization. We will also go to human rights organizations and the European judiciary. We are also relying on the leaders of sisterly and friendly Arab and Islamic states to activate this case."
Al-Khoei added: "We have verified that a leading figure in the Sadrist movement, a member of the Iraqi parliament, has requested one of the investigative judges in Baghdad to change the course of the case, via false witnesses, in order to steer the blame away from the leader of the [Sadrist] trend [Moqtada al-Sadr] and instead implicate other members of the [Sadrist] trend. This is in order to move closer to al-Sadr, and also win the internal conflict within the Sadrist movement, between the Mullahs and other members. We will disclose the name of this member of parliament, as well as those of the investigative judge, and the false witnesses, who have been involved in perverting this case."

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Gwen sits around the table chewing the fat. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "OF SYMBOLS AND MEANING: Or, how to read too much into anything." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Debra Carmajam. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Tara Setmayer and Genevieve Wood to discuss the week's news on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary. And this week's To The Contrary online exclusive is about NOW vs. Hooters. Turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Big Gamble
Lesley Stahl reports on the proliferation of gambling to 38 states and its main attraction, the slot machine, newer versions of which some scientists believe may addict their players. | Watch Video

Silver or Lead
Byron Pitts reports on the murder of the mayor of a Mexican city, where powerful drug gangs seem to be giving authorities a choice of "silver or lead" - join us and we will pay you or don't and we'll kill you. | Watch Video

A Living For The Dead
Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Elvis are dead and so is Michael Jackson. But as Steve Kroft reports, they are very much alive when it comes to earning money for their estates. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio note. The Diane Rehm Show begins airing on most NPR stations (and streaming live) at 10:00 a.m. EST. Her guests for the first hour (domestic news roundup) are Naftali Bendavid (Wall St. Journal), Susan Page (USA Today) and David Welna (NPR). For the second hour (international roundup), Diane's joined byNadia Bilbassy (MBC), Susan Glasser (Foreign Policy) and James Kitfiled (National Journal).

The e-mail address for this site is

washington week
to the contrary
bonnie erbe
60 minutes