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Iraq’s minority communities since 2003

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Welcome to New Assyria, Sweden

June 7, 2007
Category: News / Written by: ESNA

Behind me, you can hear the Swedish National Anthem, Du gamla, du fria (you old, you free), it is the church bells of St Ragnhild that are playing our national anthem.

Earlier today, I was on the premises of Samira Herdo Gharib. She is a real enthusiast, someone who helps Iraqi refugees. Everywhere on her premises, there are children in the Swedish colors, blue and yellow. Newly arrived refugees are mixed with compatriots who have been here for thirty years. They are from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. They are all Assyrians, also called Syriacs and Chaldeans, and they are all Christian. They want to celebrate the country that has given them a refuge, a haven. They want to celebrate Sweden, the Royal Family; several of them are wearing pictures of Queen Silvia and the Crown Princess Victoria. They want to be a part of the Swedish National Day. An elderly Swede walks by the children and mumbles "pathetic".

On the other side of the city's vascular bridge, a mass is being held. It is in honor of father Ragheed Ganni and his three lay workers, who just days ago were brutally killed in Mosul.

The church is filled everywhere, so is the yard. Assyrians from all over Stockholm, members from all the churches, even the natives, want to show their reverence and participation.

Prominent guests, such as members of the Swedish Parliament and municipal politicians, are sitting inside the church. At the altar, there are priests and bishops in all colors. All the churches in the Middle East are represented. From Mosul itself, the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Ishak Zakka, has arrived.

The sweet voices of the church choir fill the premises and us with warmth, sadness, but also joy. Some people see a flickering light in all of this darkness. Assyrians, no matter what they call themselves, are preaching and acting in unity.

The most surprising thing durring this mass is that the chair of the Swedish xenophobic party, The National Democrats, Marc Abramsson, has come to show his condolences. It is Özkan Kaldoyo, from the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Union, who invited him.

"I want him to understand that we did not come to Sweden to take advantage of the welfare system, that we are not extortionists. We came because otherwise we would be killed. We are persecuted!"

One of the world's most prestigious newspapers is visiting from the USA. There will be a long report on why Södertälje, a small suburb of Stockholm, has become the capital for an ethnically and religiously persecuted group of people from the Middle East.

The reporter of the newspaper leaves the church early in order to interview the municipal commissioner of Södertälje. I cross the bridge again, this time with the president of The Assyrian National Association, Rachel Hadodo, and the vice president Aboud Ado. We talk about a little bit of everything, about the refugee problem, about how the war has affected our people in Iraq, but also about the name schism and local problems in Södertälje.

After a couple of hours, I sit in my sister's car to go visit my brother, who had to break off his honeymoon after a car accident. Before even making it to the door, a friend calls me from Baghdad. "A priest has been kidnapped." Hani Ablahad, a Chaldean-Catholic priest, was kidnappad along with five other youths from his congregation. The only thing anyone knows and what little people saw, was that they were dragged into two cars about a hundred meters away from church.

I call Skandar Beth Kasha, one of the editors of They received the information, but do not know any more than I do.

My cell phone beeps, a SMS from a photographer of a well-known magazine. I had forgotten about him. He is in the hotel lobby, waiting for me. Before I have time to sit in the car, Sister Hatune, the nun I travelled to Amman with, calls. She wants me to call a family in the Swedish city of Norrköping. Three children, all under the age of ten, had their father killed in Iraq. In front of their eyes, the fundamentalists first shot him, and then beheaded him. When I call, the family does not want to talk about it. Instead, they want to tell me of other relatives in Iraq who have disappeared, been kidnapped. They want to tell about relatives who are living and hiding in Jordan, and other relatives who have been cheated by refugee smugglers, left in the middle of nowhere in Egypt.

As soon as they mention Amman, I realize that I promised to call my friend Hanna Shamoun.

"The border is filled with Assyrians, who after the murder of the priest in Mosul, are trying to enter Jordan", he says in profound resignation from Amman.

The reporter from the prestigious American newspaper asked me what I am going to do next. Surprised, I looked at him. "A strange question from one reporter to another", I think at first. Then I realize that he actually has understood that I will not allow any weird journalistic ethical rules to control me.

My people are being butchered and I must do what I can to make the world wake up. As so many other Assyrians do… We cannot and must not, give up!

The cell phone beeps again. It is the photographer of the magazine, now tired of waiting.

By Nuri Kino

Nuri Kino is a journalist in Sweden specializing in investigative journalism, and is one of the most highly awarded journalists in Europe (CV). He is an Assyrian from Turkey. His documentary, Assyriska: a National team without a Nation, was awarded The Golden Palm at the 2006 Beverly Hills Film festival.

AINA, Assyrian International News Agency






Letter2Congress: Send a Letter to Congress
Contact info to write your senators or member of Congress, or simply Copy, Paste and Send them an articles about the plight of the Christians of Iraq

church on fire

Dear Visitors

Hundreds of you everyday come to this site because you are troubled about the suffering of the Iraqi Christians.

Your compassion is admirable but such concerns are of little help unless you are willing to assist these unfortunate people either by donating to the organizations which help them or by writing, calling or signing petitions asking the politicians to protect them.


Call The White House on Monday June 18

Please Sign this Petition: Save Christians of Iraq

Vote for the Christian Assyrian project

Khzeerun = June

Welcome to New Assyria, Sweden June 16, 07

More than a thousand Christian families forced to flee home
June15, 07

Imploring the EU Parliament discuss the Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians in Iraq June15, 07

Who will protect us? June14, 07

US Congress Takes a Step to Help Iraq's Persecuted Religious Minorities June13, 07

Far From War, a Town With a Well-Used Welcome Mat June13, 07

Congresswoman Eshoo Urges Bush, Congressional Members to Protect Iraq's Christian Population June12, 07

U.S. House Subcommittee on State Approves $10 Million for Religious Minorities in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq June12, 07

Report Outlines Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against Iraq's Assyrians June12, 07

U.S. Worth an Arduous Journey for Iraqi Assyrian Family
June11, 07

Killers of Fr. Ragheed and the three deacons wanted their conversion to Islam June10, 07

They slaughter us because we are not muslims June10, 07

German Society for Threatened People Intensifies
Human Rights Campaign for ChaldoAssyrians
June 9, 07

Update of the Ashur TV program June 8, 07

Iraq War Hurting Local Assyrians June 8, 07

UN Refugee Agency Spotlights Plight of Iraqi Christian Couple
June 8, 07

A Safe Haven for Iraq's Christians Would Not Be an 'Assyrian Ghetto' June 7, 07

Hundreds Attend Funeral of Slain Assyrian Priest in North Iraq
June 4, 07

600 Assyrian families have fled their homes in Dora Iraq June 4, 07

The Chaldean Church mourns Fr. Ragheed Ganni and his martyrs
June 4, 07

Chaldean Priest and three Deacons Murdered in Mosul June 4, 07

Terrorists sack and occupy a Christian convent in Baghdad June 2, 07

Call the White House June 2, 07

A Message of Solidarity from Rosie Malek-Yonan June 2, 07

Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East:
Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians
June 1, 07

Plight of the Assyrians a UNA Report
June 1, 07

Yaar = May

Christian Population Dwindling Due To
Threats, Attacks
May 31, 07

Ashur T.V.Interview with President of the
Assyrian Aid Society
May 31, 07


Demonstration in Stockholm Against Ethnic
Cleansing of Christians in Iraq
May 31, 07

Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East
May 30, 07

A Final Appeal: to Save Christian Iraq
May 30, 07

Mehdy Army imposes the veil on
Christian women
May 30, 07

In North Iraq, Sunni Arabs Drive Out Kurds
May 30, 07

Russia Supports the Rights of Iraq's Christians
May 27, 07

Out of Iraq, a flight of Chaldean Assyrians May 27, 07

Meetings with The Asutralian MP, Minister for
Foreign Affairs
May 25, 07

Blood of Iraqi Martyrs May 25, 07

Assyrian craftsman prefers life in the saddle May 24, 07

Iraq's Legal Commission Statement about Persecution
of Assyrians in Baghdad
May 24, 07

Attempts to Ethnic Cleanse Assyrians in Northern Iraq
May 24, 07

Areas in Iraq Are Being Emptied of Christian
May 24, 07

Iraqi government offers its “full support” to the persecuted
Christians of Baghdad
May 24, 07

Armed Muslims Begin 'Ethnic Cleansing' in Baghdad
May 23, 07

Protect Us, Say Egyptians Christians May 23, 07

Iraqi Government Issues Statement concerning the
Persecution of Assyrians in Baghdad
May 21, 07

Freed Chaldean Priest May Have Been Beaten
May 21, 07

Baghdad: three lives under duress May 21, 07

Baghdad Assyrian District Emptied; Churches, Monasteries
May 21, 07

High” ransom demanded for Priest kidnapped in
Baghdad May 21, 07

The Swedes have bad knowledge about the
situation of the Iraqi Christians
May 21, 07

A Chaldean priest is kidnapped in Baghdad May 19, 07

Muslim Riots Over Church Construction in Egypt Were
May 19, 07

The Situation of Christians in Iraq is Dire May18, 07

Muslims Burn Assyrian Church in Baghdad May18, 07

Ashur T.V. Interview Satruday may 19, 07
May18, 07

Told to Convert or Die, 21 Assyrian Families Seek
Shelter in Baghdad Churches
May18, 07

‘Islamic’ prince collects taxes in Baghdad’s Christian
May18, 07

Sectarian cleansing spreads to Christians in Iraq
May17, 07

Sesame Oil and Baklava date back to the Assyrian period
May16, 07

Egyptian Muslim Intellectual Criticizes Egypt's Treatment
of Christians
May16, 07

What is going on in the Syriac Orthodox church?
May16, 07

Christianity in Turkey May16, 07

Iraq: A New Age Of Genocide? May14, 07

The Church in Iraq is in Great Danger: Bishop
of North Iraq
May14, 07

Iraqi Leaders Indifferent to Endangered
May 14, 07

Iraqi Christians facing persecution May 11, 07

Defenseless in Baghdad: Anti-Christian Violence in Iraq
May 10, 07

Iraqi Christians Fleeing Persecution May 10, 07

Christian leaders join in Patriach Delly’s Iraq appeal
May 10, 07

May 10, 07

Iraqi Christians Flee Baghdad May 9, 07

Christians fleeing Iraq after death threats May 9, 07

Christians of Iraq Persecuted
By Iraqi Government and Foreign Troops
May 7, 07

The Assault on Assyrian Christians in Iraq May 5, 07

Iraq's Christian Minority Flees Violence;
50 Percent May Have Left Country
May 5, 07

The Plight Of The Iraqi Assyrian Christians in Jordan
May 5, 07

Iraq's Chaldean Bishop's Appeal to the
Sharm El-Sheikh Summit
May 4, 07

Invitation to Sakai Community conference May 4, 07

Anniversary Party of the Assyrian Democratic
Movement in Ankawa, Iraq
May 4, 07

Assyrian/Syriac Genocide might be taught in Swedish
May 4, 07

Iraqi leaders indifferent to 'endangered' Christians
May 2, 07

Lectures by Dr. David Gaunt in California May 2, 07

Banquet to honor rev. John Koury May 1, 07

Iraqi Priest Recalls Kidnapping Ordeal May 1, 07

Neesan = April

Iraqi Christians forced to pay 'protection tax' Muslims April 29, 07
enforcing Islamic law requiring tribute or conversion

Turkey destroys evidence of the Assyrian Genocide April 28, 07

A Memorial Monument in Armenia for the Assyrian
'Seyfo Genocide,'
April 27, 07

April 27, 07

Bishop of Northern Iraq: “ Church in Iraq is in great danger”
April 24, 07

Iraqi Prime Minister Supports Assyrian Christians in Iraq April 23, 07

IRAQ Bishops appeal: Save Iraq’s Christians! April 23, 07

Forbidden Love Ends With Multiple Deaths in North Iraq April 23, 07

Gunmen kill 23 members of Yazidi religious minority April 22, 07

Assyrian community speaks Aramaic, provides a warm
welcome to Israelis
April 22, 07

Assyrian Mass Grave Investigation in Turkey April 22, 07

Protestant Pastor: “secular” Turkey; enough mockery!
April 17, 07

92 Years of Denying the Massacre of the
Assyrians, Armenians and the Greeks
April 17, 07

A Swedish 'Valhalla' for Iraqi Refugees April 15, 07

More on Muslims Forcing Christian Assyrians in Baghdad
to Pay 'Protection Tax'
April 15, 07

Arab American Institute is Deliberately Misrepresenting the
Assyrians Identity
April 15, 07

The Plight of the Christian refugees in Turkey April 13, 07

“The Assyrians of Northern Iraq” April 13, 07

We Say No to a Medieval Kurdish Constitution April 13, 07

Assyrian Case Presented At Washington's Iraq Conference
April 12, 07

April 11, 07

Assyrian Village in North Iraq Terrorized By Kurd April 11, 07

Kurdish Attack on Assyrians Leaves Two Dead in Syria April 10, 07

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki Supports Assyrian Province!
April 10, 07

April 8, 07

A New Assyrian Blog April 8, 07

Forget 2007 - for Iraqi Assyrians this is 6757 April 8, 07

Assyrians along with other Christians celebrated Easter in Jerusalem
April 8, 07

Iraq's Christians celebrate Easter and hope peace will prevail April 8, 07

Easter Message From Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. April 7, 07

Graffiti Mars Church: Worship Places to Get More Patrols April 7, 07

An Evening of Poetry April 7, 07

Turkey's Ancient Assyrian Christian Community Looks to the Future April 7, 07

Easter Greetings April 6, 07

Assyrian Engineer Kidnapped by Armed Militia April 6, 07

Interview with Yonadam Kanna April 6, 07

Iraq's Christians Plan Easter Liturgies Despite Violence April 4, 07

Church Attendance Steady in Mosul Despite Bombs and Gunfire
April 4, 07

Assyrian New Year celebration in Australia April 4, 07

EU Conference Calls on Turkey to Recognize
Assyrian Genocide
April 3, 07

Iraq's Christians Flock to Lebanon April 3, 07

The Christian victims of Iraq April 1, 07

Assyrian New Year Greeting April 1, 07


February - March 07

December 06 - January 07

October, November 06

August, September 06

June, July 06
March April May 06
February 06
December05 Januray 06