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  Christians of Iraq

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Skylife: 2001 / SEPTEMBER

Each stone placed side by side was like a letter in mysterious stone writings. Stone upon stone rose into walls lining the narrow streets, but the walls still keep their secrets. Houses that are cool in summer and warm in winter, and courtyards on many levels are  concealed behind them. None of their windows ever come face-to-face with those of a neighbouring house. This architecture woven of stone belongs to a culture with very ancient roots. Here the soft, amenable Midyat stone has taken shape in the skilled hands of [AS]Syrian Christian craftsmen, as they built houses rising up the gentle slopes. Both inside and out they are decorated with the distinctive stone carving of Midyat. On the architraves of doors and windows, beneath the eaves, on columns and arches, tulips, carnations, and twining vines have enrichened the tranquil, unassuming lives of their inhabitants. As I looked at the lace-like carving the patterns spoke to me of fertility, patience, melancholy and faith in this land suffused with an ancient mystique.

Midyat is a town in Upper Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in whose embrace civilisations have thrived. It stands in the centre of the high limestone plateau of Turabdin, with the city of Mardin to the west, Hasankeyf to the north, Cizre to the east and Nusaybin to the south. The word Turabdin means Mountain of the Servants of God, in reference to the monks who have lived in the nearly eighty monasteries founded in this region since the 4th century. The Syrian Orthodox church was founded here, and since 1478 Midyat has been the metropolitan diocese. However, the history of the area goes back long before Christianity to the Hurrians who lived here in the 3rd millenium BC. Ninth century BC Assyrian tablets refer to Midyat as Matiate, meaning City of Caves, and indeed, at Eleth 3 km away are the caves where the earliest inhabitants made their homes. Throughout history peoples have arrived and departed like migrant birds through this mountainous region. Conquerors were proud to have taken possession of its wealth, as in the case of the Assyrian king Ashurnasipal II, who declared in 879 BC, 'I have subdued Matiate and its villages. I have won abundant spoils and subjected them to high tribute and taxes.' Such events as these were common in the region, which was ruled in turn by the Mitannians, Assyrians, Urartians, Medes, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans.

Today minarets and church towers rise into the sky above Midyat, where Syrian Orthodox culture has left its mark on stone carving, filigree work, weaving, woodwork, the arts of the goldsmith and coppersmith, and many other local handcrafts. The Syrian Orthodox people, also known as Assyrians, are among the most ancient indigenous inhabitants of Upper Mesopotamia. In 38 AD, when the region was still part of the Roman Empire, they rejected paganism in favour of Christianity. Today, however, the Syrian Orthodox community in Midyat is on the decline. Migration began in the 1960s when many went to Germany as guest workers, and is still continuing. Yet they still feel Midyat to be their true home. Kenan, a young filigree craftsmen whose elder brothers and many other relatives are living abroad, asserted, 'One hour spent here is worth a lifetime there.' He went on to patiently describe the intricacies of his craft to us. Making filigree jewellery requires patience and dedication.

Midyat is a fascinating mosaic of religions, languages and traditions, which coexist here in friendly tolerance. As well as Muslims and Christians there is a smaller number of Yezidis, a people whose religion of Persian origin is thought to be related to Zoroastrianism. All share the joys and sorrows of their neighbours, whatever their faith or race, and a friendly greeting suffices for doors and hearts to be opened. We met Ahmet on a street where a hoard of children were playing. Pigeons took wing from his courtyard, and he told us that both Mardin and Midyat were as celebrated for their domestic pigeons as Urfa. 'We are all brothers here,' he said adding, 'People who love pigeons also love peace.' From the courtyard there was a view across the rooftops, and in the distance could be seen the Konuk Evi (Guest House) at the summit of the hill. This lovely old traditional house was purchased and restored on the initiative of former town governor Feyzullah Özcan, a man who is still remembered with affection here, and the metropolitan diocese, and will soon find a new lease of life as accommodation for official guests.

In the cultural mosaic of Midyat the calls to prayer from the minarets and ringing of church bells from the spires seem to speak not of division but of unity in the midst of diversity. Prayers chanted in the cathedral of Mort Smuni mingle with those in the 1300 year old church of Mor Had Bsabo in the village of Gülgöze (formerly Aynverd) to the east: 'O God, Reawaken the love within me. Burn to ashes all selfishness, envy and malice, and warm my heart...' Words of love transcend distance. It can courtyard of the 1st century Monastery of St Mary, and is infused in the pale yellow stones of the 4th century Monastery of Mor Gabriel. Words of love and good wishes in four languages resound in the ancient city of Midyat.



Who are the Christians of Iraq?  


Re-emergence of discredited Ilisu Dam project April 9, 05

Assyrika supported by Assyrian communities in 82 countries  April 9, 05

In Iraq, thanks for man who gave help and hope April 9, 05

Photos of Assyrians Celebrating the Kha b'Nisson New Year in Tur-Abedeen Turkey  April 5, 05

Assyrian Candidate Runs for Congress April 6, 05

Turkish Nationalism Reflected in Southern Town's Growing Homogeneity  April 5, 05

Seventy Thousand Assyrians

Turkey Allows a First Assyrian New Year Celebrations April 4, 05

Sadness and fear in Iraq Because of Pope John's Death  April 3, 05

Picures of the Assyrian New Year celebration in Germany April 4, 05

Pictures of Assyrians in Syria Celebrating the Kha B'Nissan April 1, 05

Pictures of Parade in Baghdad celebrating the Assyrian and Babylonian New Year  April 1, 05

Baghdad priests pray for pope, remember appeals for peace April, 1, 05

Kurds Prevent Assyrian Representation, Continue Divisive Formula in Iraq March 28, 05

Australian MP About the Assyrians of Iraq  March 28, 05

Church of martyrs, The Plight of the Christians in Iraq  March 26, 05 

Christians of Mosul, the light of the Resurrection in the Calvary of war March 26, 05

Relations between Chaldeans and Assyrians?  March 25. 05

ADM Rep: favors a "Nineveh Plain Christian Province" March 24, 05 

Mahdi Army Beats Assyrian Female Student to Death  March 23, 05

The Plight of Iraqi Children  March 23, 05

Iraq's endangered church looks to Western fellowship for helpMarch, 22, 05

Iraqi Christians Longing to Be Heard  March 22, 05  

"Chaldeans" Living in Semblance of their True Identity  March 22, 05 

Iraq's Assyrians Seek Voice in New Government March 19, 05 

EXODUS, Many Christians Flee Iraq, With Syria the Haven of Choice March 19, 05

Ansar al-Sunna claims killing of Christian Iraqi general March 18, 05 

Bishop Gabriel Kassab Visits London March 17, 05 

The Christian minority want to be like yeast in the dough March 17, 05

KRG statement regarding the situation of the Christian minority in Iraqi Kurdistan March 17, 05 

A Nun's Message of Hope March 16, 05

Christians of Syria and Mesopotamia are not Arabs  March 15, 05

An open letter form Turkey to the people of the world. March 14, 05

The persecution of the Christians in Iraq  March 14, 05

Yonadam Kanna on ChaldoAssyrians and Iraq Assembly March 10, 05

Interview: Iraqi cleric -- Civil war impossible: March 8, 05

How Ancient Assyrians helped communities to prosper March 8, 05

Iraqi women face uphill battle to maintain their rights March 8, 2005

The eagerly awaited Assyrian dictionary by Gabriel Afram March 7.05

Torment of the Assyrians of Turkey after world war one by the Turks and the Kurds March 5, 05

The Tragic Situation of the Assyrians of Barwari Bala March 4, 05 

The persecution of the Christians in Iraq March 2, 2005

Relentless pressures drive Christians from the Middle East  March  1, 05

Iran Sentenced Protestant clergyman to three years in prison  March 1, 05 

Demonstrators Protested The disenfranchisement of the Assyrians in Iraqi Elections in Front of UN  Feb. 27, 05

Assyrian Christians of Iraq wanted to vote but were not allowed. Feb. 27, 05

Is Christianity Growing in Iram? Feb. 26, 05

Letters of Protest to the Independant Elections Council of iraq  Feb. 24, 05 

Assyrians a forgotten minority  Feb. 24, 05 

SAT-7 to Broadcast First TV Show Made by and about Iraqi Christians Feb. 24, 05

Iraqi Assyrians are victims of Kurdish ethnic cleansing Feb, 23, 05

Amid the chaos of Iraq's war, the cradle of civilization is being looted Feb. 23, 05

Assyrians from the fall Nineveh to the Present Feb. 20, 05

Iraqi Prelate Confident Exiled Christians Will Return Feb. 20, 05

Fertile Crescent' treasures debut Gallery at university's Oriental Institute Feb. 18, 05

Iraqi exile voters put Chaldo-Assyrian Christian in Iraqi assembly Feb. 16, 05

Assyrian demonstrations protest Iraqi voting lock out Feb. 16, o5

Assyrians to Protest at the United Nations against Unfair Iraqi Elections Feb. 15, 05


Assyrian Christians Here Say Iraq Vote Unfair Feb. 14, 05 

Iraqi Militant Group Claims Kidnapping of a Christian Feb. 13, 05

preliminary list of the Assyrians/chaldeans and syriac representatives elected   Feb. 13, 05

To Mr. Josep Borrell Fontelles President of the European Parliament Feb 14, 05

Protest in Europe to Bring Attention to the Iraqi voting Injustice  Feb. 12, 05

The Struggle for Survival of Iraq's Christian Assyrians Feb. 11, 05

AUA appeals to World Governments to restore voting rights to Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs and Yazidis Feb. 11, 05  

Iraqi Assyrian Christians Flee to Safer Ground  Feb. 10, 05

Iraq electoral commission admits ballot box irregularities In the Christian Assyrian Region Feb. 07, 05

Provisional Iraq election results from US show Assyrian strength Feb 06, 05

Possible Outcome of Iraq's Vote for the Assyrians Feb. 06, 05 

In Iraq, ancient minority flees atrocities Feb. 06, 05

Iraqi Turkmen Accuse Kurds of Voting of Fraud  Jan. 30, 05

KDP Statement about Kurds Preventing Assyrians From Voting in North Iraq  Jan. 06, 05

Assyrians Protest Iraqis Protest Voting Irregularities Feb. 06, 05

Losing the Language of Jesus  Feb. 3. 05 

Christian Assyrians Face Obstacles in Iraqi Elections Feb. 3, 05

US Dominicans Contacting UN, US Officials in Attempt to Restore Right to Vote for 150,000 Iraqis Feb. 02, o5

One dictatorship replaced with another!  Feb. 2, 05 

Iraqis Report a Variety of Complaints About Irregularities on Election Day Feb 2, 05

Iraqi Christians claim their votes blocked   Feb. 2, 05

Assyria: 150,000 Chaldo Assyrians Protest Their Exclusion From Voting  Feb. 2, 05

London's Assyrians: Babylon or Bust  Fen. 01, 05

ADM Press Release protesting the prevention of the Assyrians in northern Iraq from voting.    Jan. 31, 05

Chicagoan's 'so happy' to cast Iraqi ballot  Jan. 31, o5

Iraq's Christians Disenfranchised at Home and in U.S. Jan. 31, 05

Assyrians Prevented By Kurds From Voting in North Iraq  Jan. 30, 05 

Iraqi Christians Flourished Long Before Muslims Jan. 30, 05

Assyrians Prevented from Voting in Northern Iraq Jan 30, 05

Pictures of the Assyrians Voters Celebrating  Jan 30, 05

Iraqi Christian Voters Hope for Security Jan. 30, 05

Assyrians of Modesto Travel to Los Angeles to Vote   Jan, 30, 05

Arizona Assyrian Iraqis travel to California to vote Jan. 30, 05

Assyrian Family sees both sides of election  Jan. 30, 05 

Assyrian Christians Protest Iraqi Election with Crucifixion/Fast in New York! Jan. 29, 05

Misinformation about Assyrians From a Finnish Immigration Official  Jan, 28, 05

Artifacts Give the Ancient Assyrian Side of the Old Testament Story  Jan. 28, 05

Iraqis in Canada prepare to hit the polls Jan. 28, 05

Iraqi Christians Pray and Brace for Election Outcome  Jan. 27, 05 

Campaign in London to Save Assyrian Christians Jan. 26, 05

Ex-archbishop in fight to save ancient Christians Jan. 24, 05

Trek to democracy Ariz. residents heading to LA to register, vote Jan. 23, 05

Iraq Overseas Voter Registration Extended   Jan. 22, 05

Map and Driving Directions to the Iraqi Voter Regestration center 

To Vote in Iraq's Elections in California 

Apathy and apprehension keeping Iraqis from registering, official says Jan. 22,  05 

Iraq Overseas Voter Registration Extended   Jan. 22, 05

Travels of the First Assyrian to the New World

Disenfranchising the Diaspora  Jan. 19, 05

Critics: Limited number of Iraqi po lling places in United State disenfranchises Christians Jan. 19, 05

CSI Founder Welcomes Release of Kidnapped Archbishop in Iraq Jan. 19, 05

Local Iraqis make long journey  Jan. 18, 05

Seyfo: The Unmentioned Genocide of the Assyrians during world war one Jan. 18, 05

I prayed and was ready for the worse, says the Bishop of Mosul Jan. 18. 05

Many Iraqis travel far to register to vote Jan. 30  Ja n 18, 05

Relief after kidnapped Iraqi archbishop is released Jan, 18, 05

Kurdish Attacks on Assyrians in Iraq Intensify As Election Nears  Jan. 17. 05

Christian Assyrian Heritage of Iraq Before Islam  Jan. 16, 05

Armed Kurdish Groups Terrorize Assyrian Town in Iraq Jan. 15, 05

Muslims Identify Christians as Western Enemies Jan. 14, 05


Iraq expatriates want vote Jan. 14, 05

Iraqi Christian campaigns struggle Jan. 14, 05

"Assyrian dreams of going back for vacation, taking his kids to Nineveh"  Jan.23, 05

Iraqis here to have say in nation's Jan. 30 elections Jan. 13, 05

Local Iraqis in Chicago to Vote with Hope Jan. 12, 05 

Petition to Protest Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program's Discrimination of ChaldoAssyrians Jan. 11. 05

Locals face long trek for voice in Iraq vote Jan. 11, 05

To Vote in Iraq's Elections in California  Jan. 5, 05 

Who to Vote For?  Jan. 11, 205

Assyrian National Gathering (Assembly) Jan. 11, 05

Terrorism Strikes All Iraqis, Says Patriarch Jan. 11, 05

Pastor tells of his visit to Baghdad Jan 10, 05 

A Look At Iran's Christian Minority Jan. 1- 05

Assyriska rises to Sweden's promised land  Jan. 6, 05

Good News from Midyat Turkey Jan. 8, 05 

Christians flee genocide as fear sweeps Iraq  Jan. 8, 05

Will the indigenous Christians of Iraq surviv e? Jan. 6, 05

Members of ancient Turkish Christian community try to get back to normal  Jan, 6, 05

Paticipating in Iraq's Elections Jan. 2005 

Chaldean population in Sterling Heights to take part in shaping new Iraq  Jan. 4, 05

Minority Christian groups want more parliamentary clout  Jan. 4, 05

Egypt frees Christians detained over December unrest  Jan 4, 05

Bleeding of the Week  Jan. 3, 05 

World's Assyrians savour Swedish soccer saga Jan. 2, 05  

Christians provide their own security for Christmas  Dec. 25, 04

Wearing one seen as way to avoid violence Dec. 25, 04

New Hope of Syrian Minorities: Ripple Effect of Iraqi Politics Dec. 29, 04 

Iraqi Christians in Jordan Cite Bombs, Intimidation Dec. 25, 04

Iraq's Christmas Spirit: Fear Dec. 25, 04 

Christmas in Iraq  Dec. 25, 04   

Iraqi Refugees will not Be Home For Christmas Dec. 24, 04

Is Iraq Another Yugoslavia? Dec. 23, 04

Kurds: Bombers are militant splinter group Dec.23, 04 

USCIRF Letter to President Bush about the Non-Moslems in Iraq Dec. 21, 04

Christian orphans stuck in limbo in Iraq  Dec. 21, 04

Christian Plight in Iraq Dec. 21, 04

Chaldo-Assyrian Community of Iraq Dec. 21, 04

Despite Fear of Attacks Baghdad Christians celebrate birth of Christ Dec. 21 ,04 

Churches attacked in Mosul. Christians Kidnapped and Injured  Dec. 20 ,04

Christmas services canceled by fearful Iraqi Christians Dec. 20, 04

Turkey, the EU and the Assyrians  Dec. 20, 04

Voting ProceduresFor the Out Country Iraqi's  Dec. 16, 04

Iraqi Christians to Take Role in Elections DC. 15, 04 

Updated: Oppression and Murder of the Assyrians in Iraq Dec. 10, 04

Iraq's besieged Christians weigh taking up arms, fleeing into exile  Dec. 12, 04

Pope expresses concern about recent terror attacks against Iraqi Christians Dec. 8, 04

Iraq Churches Bombed; 1,000th American Killed  Dec. 7, 04

1,500 members to protect Christians in northern Iraq Dec. 4, 04

Christianity Under Fire In Egypt  Dec. 6, 04

Interview with younadam Kanna of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM)  Dec. 5, 04

Kurd's Tactics to Divide Assyrians into Insignificance Dec. 3, 04

The Advantages of a Governate Region Versus Safe Heaven  Dec. 1. 04

AINA: Appeal for a ChaldoAssyrian Safe Haven in Northern Iraq  Nov. 30, 04

Iraq's Christian Minority Under Threat Nov. 29, 04

More and more Christians Fear Life in Iraq Nov. 29, 04

Appeal for a ChaldoAssyrian Safe Haven in Iraq  Nov. 24, 04

Interview with Archbischop of Kerkuk - Louis Sakko Nov. 24, 04

US support seen as 'disaster' for Christian minority in Iraq Nov. 23, 04

Iraqi Christians seek U.S. support  Nov. 23, 04

A Conference for the Defense of Human rights for Minorities in Iraq  Nov. 18, 04

U.S. Must Protect Iraq's Christians  Nov. 16, 04

The Coming Elections in Iraq and the Expatritots  Nov. 15,04

The Ethnic Cleansing of christians In Iraq Continues  Nov. 13, 04

Northern Iraq's Mosul Tense After U.S. Air Strikes Nov. 12, 04

Bombs explode at Baghdad Orthodox churches Nov . 8, 04

Militants bomb Orthodox church in Baghdad  Nove. 8, 04

Is Mosul Next after Falluja?  Nov. 7, 04

Companions in suffering: An Interview with Thea Halo Nov. 6, 02

Iraqi Christians Face Escalating violence: Urgent Appeal For Help  Nov. 4, 04

Update of Opression and Murder of the Assyrians in Iraq Nov. 4, 04

Two Assyrians Killed in Syria  NOv. 3, 04

Assyrian Family Attacked in Baghdad, Two Killed  NOv. 2, 04

Restoring Sanity to Iraq  Oct. 25, 04

Apeal for an Administration region for the Christians of Iraq  Oct. 24, 04

Kurd's Confiscation of Assyrian Villages  Oct. 25, 04

Christians of Iraq under Siege Oct. 25, o4


















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