So receiving welcomely, like I did, an invitation
Christians gathered at the packed hall on the first
And now the still present and persistent occupation
of the defeated country by the brutal and savage
American military forces of George W. Bush, has
only compounded the molestation of Christianity.
As a practising American Methodist, Bush has
Inside Archdiocese of Westminster's Cathedral Hall.
him, the more I was convinced that he was a very brave man
indeed to stand against the muslim tyranny that is Iraq today,
especially against all of those who profess to be Christian by
him personally at Westminster's Cathedral Hall.
Iraq's Catholic Archbishop at ACN Podium.
Some might think that Archbishop Sleiman is more
protected from attack by virtue of his high rank in
The Holy Catholic Church. Those who may think that
are plainly ignorant of the crippling Iraq reality and
the severe danger that he and his worshipful flock are
always in. Being an archbishop is more of a juicy target
for such Muslim fanatics than just "ordinary" Christians,
I suspect. Therefore, by virtue of his very important rank
and his holy position, the prelate is in ever great danger
from being murdered himself by such rogue elements
in Iraq. Nobody who thinks otherwise is living in
little more than La La Land.
The archbishop chatting with the faithful.
Just as I was going to write more about the impact of Archbishop Slieman's presentation of his speech "Iraq and the Martyrs of the 21st Century," which I consider is more clear evidence of "Iraq's concerted molestation of Christianity," I unexpectedly received from one of my good friends, Wilfred Wong, an article he has written called "Hanging By The Thread" that speaks of his own personal experience of being in Iraq just a week or so ago to help persecuted Christians there. Wilfred is a patron, along with Stephen Pound, M.P. and Edward Leigh, M.P. of The Assyrian Aid Society. His article directly and indirectly re-enforces much of what the Baghdad archbishop stated at Westminster's Cathedral Hall. Therefore, let me present Wilfred Wong's unedited, remarkable and revealing piece herein for my many biggerissue.org readers to absorb and reflect on, too:
:: HANGING BY A THREAD by Wilfred Wong ::
About 50% of Iraq's Christian population have fled since the Coalition Forces invaded Iraq in 2003. There are about 600,000 Christians left in Iraq and their numbers continue to decrease due to severe anti-Christian persecution. The AssyrianChaldeans make up over 95% of Iraq's Christians. Over 700 Iraqi Christians have so far been killed since the 2003 invasion.
Iraqi Christians are exposed to far more dangers than the average Iraqi. They are attacked by Islamic extremists, who want to drive them out, force them to convert to Islam or kill them. Many insurgents also wrongly perceive Iraqi Christians as being close allies of the Coalition Forces, because of their shared faith with the "Christian" West and Christians are especially targeted for kidnappings because of the misconception that they are wealthy. AssyrianChaldeans also face grave problems from neighbouring Muslim Kurds in northern Iraq, many of whom have attacked them or illegally seized Christian land, houses and even sources of water, including misappropriating part or all of at least 58 Christian villages.
It appears that the Kurds wish to drive the Christians completely out of the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq and to annex the Nineveh Plains, which is heavily populated by AssyrianChaldeans. The ruling political party in that area, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have even been bringing Kurds in from abroad to settle in the region and have refused to ensure that any of the misappropriated Christian owned land and houses are returned. In some cases the KDP themselves have misappropriated Christian land. Iraq's leading Christian political party, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), have repeatedly called for a province to be granted to the AssyrianChaldeans, which is linked to the central government in Baghdad, is situated in and around the Nineveh Plains and includes the Telkepeh, Hamdaniya and Bashika Districts, and is governed by the AssyrianChaldeans and other ethnic groups living in that area, these lands forming part ofthe ancient ancestral homeland of the AssyrianChaldeans and which are still heavily populated by them.
The ADM have consistently received more votes from Iraqi Christians at elections than any other party, which indicates that the majority of Iraq's Christians want a province for the AssyrianChaldeans. This province can function as a place of safety for Iraq's Christians and would also encourage the thousands of Christians who fled Iraq and are living in poverty in neighbouring countries to return and live in that province. Iraq is already divided into 18 provinces so this province will be just another province - it is certainly NOT about the AssyrianChaldeans wanting to break away from the Iraqi state. If this province is not granted to the AssyrianChaldeans, then eventually it is likely to fall under Kurdish control as the KDP wants to annex the Nineveh Plains to Kurdistan despite the fact that less than one percent of the population there are Kurds and the largest ethnic group living in that area are the AssyrianChaldeans. The KDP have already set up offices and military checkpoints in the Nineveh Plains even though they have no jurisdiction over that area. Annexation by the KDP will probably result in the widespread misappropriation of Christian owned land and houses as has already occurred in the KDP controlled region of northern Iraq.
With only about 600,000 AssyrianChaldeans left in Iraq, and among them more than 12,000 internally displaced Christian families driven from their homes by anti-Christian violence. Despite having very limited finances, the Assyrian Aid Society is struggling almost single-handedly to assist what's left of the Christian community, thereby helping them to remain in their ancient homeland of Iraq rather than fleeing abroad. The AssyrianChaldeans have continuously lived in the land now known as Iraq for over 6000 years (In April 2008 they celebrated their new year of 6758).
Since 2003, more than at any other time in their long history, the AssyrianChaldeans have been in grave danger of becoming extinct in their ancient homeland. Their community is now hanging by a thread. Anybody who helps the AAS to assist this beleagured Christian community will not only be rendering a great service to them and to God but will also be helping to change the course of history for the AssyrianChaldeans and Iraq.
It will also be a tragedy for Iraq if the AssyrianChaldeans vanish from that country as they provide a natural buffer against the growing influence of Islamic extremism in that country and as a generally well educated community they contribute much of the intellectual and professional skills needed in Iraqi society.
His Eminence, Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad.
Just for the record and before I write more
about Archbishop Sleiman and his sponsor "Aid to
the Church in Need" (ACN), let me turn to the Rev'd
Dr. Khoshaba Georges, who represents The Assyrian
Church in the United Kingdom. I thought at first he was an
Anglican bishop by the manner of his scarlet clerical shirt
and silver pectoral cross (shown below) when I first met
and photographed him inside Cathedral Hall before the
start of the Iraqi archbishop's speech. He never, however,
said nor denied he, Dr. Georges, was an Anglican bishop to
me. But elsewhere on the net he is listed as an archdeacon
of his church. Archdeacons don't dress as bishops. While at
last year’s Cardiff monument dedicated to the Assyrian
and Armenian Genocide, he is described in Wales as “The
Assyrian archbishop of the Ancient Church of the East.”
At that time, he formally spoke there in the presence of
the Armenian Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Dr.
Vahe Gabrielyan; Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, the Presiding
Officer of the National Assembly of Wales; and the Bishop of
The Armenian Church, Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian. Then,
I still wonder why he, Dr. Georges, is dressed like an
Anglican bishop when in fact he is not? I'm truly puzzled
by the fellow, particularly after I have met some 12
Catholic archbishops and/or cardinals already as,
ironically, an avid Anglican layman and, of course,
countless Anglican/Episcopal bishops and archbishops
over the years in perhaps 20 or more countries. Dr.
Georges is the first Assyrian Christian and Eastern
clergyman, aside from Orthodox Bishop Norman,
that I've encountered in London, nevertheless.
Rev'd Dr. Khoshaba Georges.
Here I now return to "Aid to the Church in Need" (ACN) and present one segment of its detailed report on the plight of Iraqi Christians that Archbishop Sleiman and Wilfred Wong so clearly speak of, and to, based on their first hand experience and knowledge of what anti-Christian Iraq has cruelly embarked upon to rid the country of all vestiges of Christianity:
:: Iraq: "Faith is Stronger than Fear." ::
Bombing, kidnapping and a savage process of ethnic cleansing have traumatised the Christian community who as a tiny minority are powerless to protect themselves.
The mass emigration sparked by the (Iraq) crisis has led Bishop Andreas Abouna of Baghdad to report that up to half of Iraq'a Christians have fled for their lives. With about 40,000 Christian refugees flooding into Syria, Church leaders are trying to provide shelter, food, and medical support for the people who are homeless and afraid. (Syrian Bishop Antoine Audo has) outlined the increasing dangers for Christians still in Iraq. Christians - and others - have received death threats and women and even girls were being forced to wear the (non-Catholic) veil in accordance with Islamic law.
The faithful are devastated at the forced closure of up to a dozen churches, monasteries, and other church buildings in the Al Dora district of Baghdad known as 'The Vatican of Iraq." Bishop Abouna told ACN: "Of course the people are frightened. But there is something stronger than fear - it is their faith."
ACN's John Pontifex.
:: REV. DR. KHOSHABA GEORGES REPLIES ::
Dear Uncle Monty,
Thank you for your email, photos and web site. I understand that you are confused by my dress and clirical rank. However in the Ancient church of the East we have the rank of Archdeacon which is above Cor- Bishop and below Bishop, This rank is equivalent to Msgr ( Monseigneur ) in Western Churches. About the dress nothing to do with Anglican Bishops dress. Because Archdeacon of the Church of the East dress is like that. I also notice that you are saying the Ancient church of the East was Established in 1968. I would like to correct this and say , the Ancient church of the East was established in the second half of first century AD in Seleucia - Ctesiphone Near Babylon , by the blessed Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ Mar Addai, Mar Mari and Mar Thomas who then proceeded to India as mention in our tradition.
Please pray for me. Your in Christ, Rev. Dr. Khoshaba Georges. Sept 28.08. Gdrkhos@aol.com
ACN's African Child Poster.