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www.Christiansofiraq.com is dedicated to bringing the latest news, articles and commentaries about the plight of the Christian Assyrians of Iraq to the attention of the international community.

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 Who Are Christians of Iraq?

Most people think of the Middle East as mostly Arab and Moslem and was always that way. Such is not the case. Before the seventh century invasion of the Middle East by Moslem Arabs the predominant population of Mesopotamia (today's Iraq), Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt was none Arab Christians. The growth of Islam in these countries was not due to a sudden influx of Arabs but gradual conversion to Islam by the native population who later became to be known as Arabs. It was not until the eleventh century when Moslems became a majority in Iraq.

Christians of Iraq trace their ancestry to the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians. They are known by various names such as Assyrians, Chaldeans for those who belong to the Chaldean Church and Syriacs for the members of the Syrian Orthodox church. There is no specific statistics about the total population of Christians in Iraq but they are estimated to be about one million.

During the tolerant period of the Abassid Caliphate (758-1258) Assyrians scholars of both Nestorian and Jacobite denominations contributed greatly to the advancement of the Islamic civilization by translating the available knowledge form the Syriac and the Greek languages into the Arabic. This ushered an era which is known as the "Golden Age". The first directors of the "House of Wisdom" an institution specifically established by AI-Mamun in 830 AD to translate all the available existing knowledge including, medicine philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and other sciences into the Arabic were Assyrians. To show the extent of the Assyrian contribution to educating the Arabs it suffices to say that from a hundred Galen's treaties ninety six were translated form the Syriac language the rest directly from the Greek. Many Greek books no longer existed in their native language. 

Yuhanna ibn Masswaya a physician and teacher was the first director of the House of Wisdom and the president of the first Arab University. He has been credited with having written nearly fifty works. His students were known to be well versed in logic and the writings of Galen. He conducted an assembly in Baghdad on regular basis known as "Majlis" which was a combination of lecture room and consulting hour where he saw patients, lectured his students and discussed scientific topics for the benefit of the general public. One of his most famous students was Hunayn ibn-Isahq who became the second director of the House of the Wisdom.

(Arab Civilization to AD 1,500", D.M. Dunlop, New York 1971 p.220)

Hunayn is considered to be the greatest and the most productive translator of all. "According to Ibn-abi-Usahbi'ah he was the author of more than one hundred original works, but few of these are extant". (Whiple 27) He translated twenty books of Galen into Syriac, and fourteen treaties into Arabic. He revised sixteen translations made previously by Sergius of Ras al-'Ayn (Rish-Ayna). Most of the translators of the next generation received their training from Hunayn and his pupils."

Translation form the Syriac language to Arabic was so widespread that even the Nestorian Patriarch Timothy who was a good friend of al-Mehdi and his sons Musa, Harun and Ali is known to have translated the 'Topics of Aristotle' first from the Syriac in (782-3) and later retranslating it from the Greek original with the help of the malikite Patriarch.

Christian Doctors were famous for their extensive medical skills. Members of the Bakht-Eisho family served as court doctors for seven generations. The Beit Qarra family of Harran who were still practicing a corrupted form of the ancient Assyro-Babylonian religion contributed greatly to the Arab Knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. The rise of the Arabic as a language of education contributed to the decline of the Syriac language.

See also: Contributions to the Arab civilization

The arrival of the Crusaders followed by the Mongols inflamed Moslem passions against the none Moslem communities. Because of continued massacres the Assyrians population gradually declined in number but survived mostly in the plain of Nineveh, SoutheastTurkey, Mountains north of Mosul, and northwest Iran. Turkey's world war one massacres resulted in the death of 750,000.

During Saddam's wars with the Kurds hundreds of Assyrian villages were destroyed their inhabitants were rendered homeless, driven out of their historic homeland, and scattered as refugees in large cities or the neighboring countries. dozens of ancient churches some dating to the early centuries of Christianity were bombed and turned into rubble. The teaching of the Syriac language was prohibited and Assyrians were forced to give their children Arabic names in an effort to undermine their true identity. Those who wished to hold governmental jobs had to sign ethnicity correction papers which declared them arabs.

The fall of Saddam which was hoped to bring peace to Iraq has unleashed religious violence against the Christian community in Iraq. Unless special attention is given to their plight by the US and the Iraqi government this ancient people will continue to suffer grievously as they have in the past.

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October & November


Archives August and September

Who are the Christians of Iraq? 

September = Eilool

POLITICS-IRAQ: Kurd's Voting Shenanigans Cloud Key Province 9, 28, 05 

Church in Iraq Helps Rebuild New Orleans Parish; U.S. Relief Agency Bridges Partnership 9, 28, 05

The Armenian Genocide And The Assyrian Factor 9, 28, 05

Interview with the Writer and the Historian Rosie Malek-Younan 9, 28, 05

Assyrian Cultural Festival in Ceres CA. 9, 27, 05

Swedish Radio's Decision to End Turkish Language Broadcasts 9, 27, 05

Assyrian Refugees Face Harsh Discrimination in Greece 9, 26, 05

A cry of help by the Assyrians 9, 26, 05

samples of songs by various Eastern and Western Assyiran singers. 9, 24, 05

USAID: Iraq Reconstruction and Humanitarian Relief  9, 24, 05

4 Assyrians Killed in Assassination Attempt on Former Iraq Assyrian Minister  9, 23, 05 

Seminar in Stokholm About Seyfo ( world war one massacres)  9, 22, 05

Iraq chaos threatens ancient faith 9, 22, 05 

The Crimson Field Previews 9, 17, 05  

Treatment of Horses" by the Assyrian scientist of the 13th century Faraj  9, 21, 05 

A New Satellite T.V. Program From San Jose 9, 20, 05

English translation of the ancient Mesopotamian tablets  9, 20, 05

First Nestorian [Church of the East] search engine goes online 9, 19, 05

Download Assyrian songs.by ReeMon 9, 18, 05 

Letter from the 'Save the Assyrian Campaign'. 9, 16, 05 

Growing Opposition to Dividing the Assyrians 9, 16, 05

Books by Assyrian writers 9, 15, 05

English cardinal warns of Iraqi constitution  9, 14, 05

Brutality Against Christians in Iraq Continues 9, 13, 05

John Kanno for Congress  9, 12, 05

Reply to Culomnist Ken Rudin   9, 12, 05

Assyrians: Wine-producing season starts in Midyat 9, 11, 05

Iraqi Christians cautious about new constitution 9, 11, 05

Assyrian Human Rights Documentation Project Launched in Canada 9, 6, 05

Fire Consumes Over 500 Assyrian Shops in Baghdad Suburb 9, 6, 05 

Education in Armenia for Assyrians and other Minorities 9, 6, 05

Capital of Musasir gov't in northwest Iran Discovered  9, 5, 05

The Assyrian Democratic Organization Rejects Iraq's Constitution 9, 4, 05

The Ordeal of the Christians in Arab countries 9, 3, 05

August = Tubbakh

"Arab Christians"? Not in My View  8, 31, 05

Emotional Funeral for Assyrian Murdered By Kurds in Iraq 8, 31, 05 

Risking it all for a song 8, 31, 05

Iraq's draft constitution and the ChaldoAssyrians 8, 30, 05

Kurdish Reprisal Attacks Against Assyrian Christians in Iraq  8, 27, 05

For Basra's Christians, Hussein era the good old days 8, 28, 05

Assyrian Restuarant in Chicago Reminds Iraqis of Home 8, 28. 05

Assyrians in Northern Iraq terrorized by the Kurdish Mlitia 8, 27, 05

Iraq's Proposed constitution could lead to fragmented state. 8, 27, 05

Conflicts between Kurds and the Shabak 8, 26, 05

New Iraq constitution may throw women's rights into Stone Age  8, 26, 05

Assyrians of Telesqof demonstrate against being divided in the Constitution 8, 25. 05

Assyrian Demonstrators Voice their Concern about the New Iraqi Constitution 8, 24, 05

A letter from the Rep.of Shabak in the National Assermbly  8, 24, 05

New Iraq constitution must protect Christians 8, 22, 05 

The text of the latest Proposed Iraq Constitution  8, 22, 05

Outside View: Who lost Iraq?  8, 22, 05

Iraq's Religious Minorities Concerned About Islamic Constitution 8, 22, 05  

Iraq TV's 'Cops' breaks new ground  8, 21, 05  

Young Catholics Gather in Baghdad  8, 20 05

Iraqis Squeezed Out By Kurdish Expansion, Muslim-Centric Constitution 8, 20, 05

A Memoradum from the Christians of Iraq to the Drafters of the Constitution. 8, 20, 05

Shafting Nineveh: The Fate of Iraqi Christians 8, 20, 05

Plea for Assyrian Christians and Iraqi minorities 8, 18, 05

Undemocratic aspects of the new Iraqi constitution draft 8, 17, 05

Iraqis vent rage on call-in TV after bombs kill 43 8, 17, 05

Iraq's Non-Muslims' Constitution Fears  8, 17, 05

Kurdish Gunmen Open Fire on Demonstrators in North Iraq 8, 16, 05

Their suffering continues 8, 14, 05

IRAQ: Focus on constitutional concerns 8, 14, 05

Photos form homeland  8, 14, 05

Despite Turmoil, Christians Place Faith in New Iraq 8, 13, 05 

Iraqi-American Translators: The Untold Story 8, 12, 05

Life in Ankawa 8, 12, 05

Why Torah's Hebrew script was Changed to the square Assyrian script 8, 11, 05

Assyrian Restaurant in Chicago  8, 10, 05

Speech at the Commonwealth Club of California By Fred Aprim 8, 10, 05

KURDS TAKE A HARD-LINE STANCE ON IRAQI CONSTITUTION  8, 10, 05

72nd Assyrian American National Convention   8, 09, 05

Unresolved Iraqi Constitutional Points  8, 09, 05

Information wanted for Upcoming Documentary about Iraqi women 8, 09, 05

Assyrian Objection to the Nationality Law 8, 06, 05

Iraqi Christians Remember Church Bombings One Year Later 8, 05 05

Looted history  8, 05, 05 

Book Release: Rosie Malek-Yonan's "The Crimson Field" 8, 05, 05 

Iraq Must Avoid a Rollback of Rights 8, 04, 05 

Nina Shea: Rule of law, rule of Islam  8, 4, 05

Iraqis in U.S. Won't Vote on Constitution 8, 03, 05

Bush's Global War on Christians 8, 01, 05

An Open Letter to Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I  8, 01, 05 

Democracy could struggle in Islamic Iraq  7, 30, 05

Assyrian Granny Shimmes's Contribution to Rendezvous of Civilizations 7, 29, 05

House amends funding bill to help Iraqi Christians 7, 29, 05

Iraq draft constitution fails to protect religious, human rights, USCIRF says  7, 29, 05

 

 

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