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U.S. Chaldeans Decry ‘Genocide’ of Iraqi Christians, Rally for Aid

04 Aug 2014 – By Mike Stechschulte

DETROIT (CNS) — Shouting slogans such as “Obama, Obama, where are you? Iraqi Christians need you!” and “Stop the violence in Iraq!” about 150 protesters marched through the streets of downtown Detroit on 1 August to call awareness to the violent persecution of Christians in their native land.

Later in the day, nearly 1,000 more gathered at Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield for a prayer vigil led by Chaldean Bishop Francis Kalabat, who shared a similar message.

Most of the protesters were Chaldeans, or Christians of Iraqi descent, and were there because of what many called ignorance on the part of the media and others in responding to the humanitarian crisis.

“Christians are being kicked away from their country, and no one is protecting them,” said Noor Mattr, one of the protesters who helped coordinate the rally in downtown Detroit. “Christians do not take up arms like other groups, so they take action with their feet and just leave.”

Mattr said his grandmother lived in Mosul, Iraq, where Christians have recently been forced to flee their homes after the militant Islamic State has given an ultimatum: Convert to Islam, pay a huge tax or be killed.

The Islamic State, or ISIS, proclaimed the creation of a new “caliphate,” or state run by a religious leader, after thousands of militants seized control of large parts of eastern Syria and northern and central Iraq in June.

Since then, militants have released videos on Facebook and other social media showing mass executions of Christians and other Iraqis. According to some estimates, as many as 1,500 people were killed in July.

Ashor Khairon, another protester in Detroit, called the situation “genocide” and expressed frustration at the lack of action on the part of the U.S. and international community.

“We’re praying, but the prayers aren’t enough,” Khairon told The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Detroit Archdiocese. “We need support from all over the world, especially the U.S.A. I’m sure they can do it. I don’t know what they’re waiting for.”

Many of the protesters carried signs or wore shirts depicting the Arabic letter that is painted by militants on the houses of Christians to mean “Nassara,” or “Nazarene,” to identify those targeted for persecution. The symbol also has taken off on social media as a sign of solidarity with those who are being martyred.

A protester who identified herself as Nidal, but didn’t want to give her last name, said the sight of people being slaughtered in online videos should be enough to cry for support, but few have taken notice.

“I have never seen so much gore. This war is right on Facebook. Every single day there are mass killings of innocent people as the world watches,” she said. “This is worse than Hitler because people are just standing on the sidelines. The Obama administration hasn’t done anything.”

Nidal said refugees have been told to seek asylum and aid from churches and priests in Iraq, but not even churches are being spared the violence.





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Tags: Iraq Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians United States Chaldean Church