Iraqi Christians: the good news and the bad news

I have two stories on Iraqi Christians, one optimistic and the other sad. The first is an item from Zenit, a Roman Catholic news service. It’s from February, but I just came across it. Headlined Iraqi Election Seen to Invite Return of Christians, it says,

Results of the recent local Iraqi elections include the defeat of extremist religious groups, and the possible return home of Christian exiles, said an auxiliary bishop of Baghdad.

….The count on Feb. 5, with 90% of votes weighed in, showed that the Islamic religious parties had suffered losses. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s party, on the other hand, won a significant part of the vote. Official results are expected at the end of the month.

Bishop Abouna reported to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that this news “delighted” the Christians who were forced to emigrate due to sectarianism and the violence of the post-Saddam stage.
….Underlining the peaceful environment during and after the elections, he affirmed, “This will make [Christians] think differently and may encourage them to start returning.”

The bishop explained that many Christians believe that “a more secular government will favor minority religious groups” more than religious parties would.

Although Maliki and his party have “strong religious leanings, they have pursued a non-sectarian agenda.”

Now a story from yesterday in the Christian Post, 4 Christians Killed Within 48 Hours in Iraq.

Four Iraqi Christians were murdered within two days by unknown assailants, according to a Christian persecution watchdog group.

“The killing of four innocent people within the last two days has put a renewed fear in our hearts,” said Julian Taimoorazy, president of Iraqi Christian Relief Council, in an interview with International Christian Concern. “What is important is to keep these continuous atrocities in the media and on the policy makers’ radars. What we need is a more safe and secure Iraq for all of Iraqi’s especially for the Christians who have faced ethno-religious cleansing.”

The story also relates these facts, some of which surprised me:

Since 2003, some 750 Christians have been killed in Iraq, according to Archbishop Louis Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk. Dozens of churches have also been bombed.

Islamic extremists often target Christians under the assumption that they are supporters of the coalition force since they share the same faith as the West.

Constant death threats, lack of economic opportunities, and security instability have forced more than half of the Iraqi Christian population to flee the country within the past five years.

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees reports that although Iraqi Christians make up only three percent of Iraq’s population, they account for nearly half of the refugees leaving the country.

I knew about the disproportion of Iraqi Christian refugees, but didn’t realize it was that large. Almost half the Iraqi refugees are Christians.

But what surprised me is the figure of some 750 Christians killed since 2003. Every death is sad, but 750 is a much lower figure than I would have guessed. It includes a disproportionate number of clergy and leaders, of course, since killing leaders terrorizes and bewilders a population. I somehow had the idea that many thousands of Christians had been killed. I’ll have to check on this further.

Chicago: Overloaded, exhausted, drained and out of stuff for refugees

The Daily Northwestern tells us about the plight of Sudanese refugees and laments the fact that we aren’t bringing so many these days from Africa, but then goes on to report that volag, World Relief, can’t handle the refugees that are coming.    Nevertheless, the US State Department is still sending refugees to Chicago.

“Chicago as a city is really overloaded,” says Christine Deyerler, a Communication senior who interns at World Relief-Chicago, an immigration and refugee aid association that helped Liduba. “Right now they’re taking a lot of Burmese and Iraqi refugees, but not a lot of African ones.”

For those who reach the United States, the first person a new arrival might see is someone such as Deyerler, who often meets refugees up at the airport by prearrangement. The U.S. State Department disseminates highly specific set of services refugees must receive within their first 90 days in the United States, down to the smallest details, such as the number of dishes and mattresses per occupant. The case worker will ferry them to their apartment, the Social Security card office and the grocery store. Within the first week, their children are administered vaccines so they can enroll in school. However, these ready-made accommodations cannot negate the emotional shock of the move.

Chicago is running out of jobs, donations, and furniture even.

“Your status has been ripped,” says Keri Lucas, director of educational services at World Relief. “You are nothing. What’s valuable is handed to you, and you have no concept of the future.”

However, the State Department does not mandate any additional assistance after the first 90 days. More personalized services such as job training, English classes and psychological counseling are often “referred out” to community-based organizations, Lucas said.  [Like the American Civic Association in Binghamton]

“The first thing my boss said to me was that Chicago is really exhausted,” Deyerler says. “(World Relief) is running out of donations and jobs slowly. Right now they have no furniture and are trying really hard to get more donations. A lot (of refugees) have to keep going off and on public aid to get by.”

It’s the same old story everywhere these days—-refugees piling into American cities and the agencies contracted to care for them are not fulfilling their contracts with the government.  And, it’s not just the economy, these stories could be found all over the US before our economic downturn began, it’s just they weren’t being reported!  

I wonder how the State Department is getting around this—their requirement that their contractors supply refugees with the bare minimum to survive and that, in some cases,  isn’t being done.

Here for your review is the US State Department’s Operational Guidance for Resettlement Agencies.   If you should see this is not being followed by a resettlement agency in your community, please contact the US State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to report neglect of basic requirements for refugees.

You will note at the contact page there is no place for anyone to complain.  We have advocated for a Complaint Hotline for the refugee program so citizens and refugees could have one place to lodge complaints.   I see that hasn’t happened.   In the meantime, contact Barbara Day ( )    who heads up the portion of the program that manages the resettlement.

Some missing American Somali youths are going public in Somalia

And, there is more in this Fox News report about “the American” we told you about yesterday.   Hat tip:  Blulitespecial.

Two young Americans who left their homes to join an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group in Somalia held a rare “press conference” in Southern Somalia on Monday, saying they want to be killed “for the sake of God,” according to a U.S. law enforcement official and a video posted on a Somali news Web site.


Today is the first time any of these men have spoken publicly.

They want others to know why they joined al-Shabaab according to a translation by none other than our old buddy Omar Jamal (See all of our coverage on this guy here. We should have made him his own category at RRW).

“We came from the U.S. with a good life and a good education [Edit:  note they are not joining the jihad because of a life of poverty], but we came to fight alongside our brothers of al-Shabaab … to be killed for the sake of God,” one man said in the video, as translated by Omar Jamal, the executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

In the video, two men, identifying themselves as Abu-Muslim and Abu Yaxye, say they are “Somali youth” from the United States who are now stationed near the city of Kismayo, more than 300 miles southwest of Mogadishu, according to Jamal. The men say they are talking to media for the first time so others can learn why they joined al-Shabaab, he said.

More on “the American”—- a white guy (note you can see a close-up of him at the Fox report):

A law enforcement official confirmed to FOX News that the man, identified in the video as Abu Mansur al-Amriki, is originally from the United States, but said he has been in Somalia “for some time.” The official said the man is in his late 20s or early 30s, and left the United States “many” years ago.

So what is the big deal about going to Somalia “many” years ago.   Who cares if it’s “many” or a few?

The FBI is looking for ‘missing youth’ cases in other American cities, but are quick to say there is no evidence that they are being trained to return with their newly acquired skills to use against us.   There is no evidence that they are not!

The FBI investigation into how young American men were recruited to join al-Shabaab in Somalia is active in Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Boston; Seattle; and San Diego, according to testimony from counterterrorism officials and others at a Senate hearing last month. But, officials said, there is no intelligence to indicate that Somali-Americans who traveled to Somalia are planning attacks inside the United States.

But some are back, we heard that a couple of weeks ago. 

The source familiar with the FBI investigation would not say publicly if authorities know the whereabouts of the men who returned to the United States, nor would the source say if authorities are pursuing arrests in the case. But Muslim leaders in the Minneapolis area told FOX News that they believe arrests are coming.

So what is taking so long?  I’ll bet you a buck it’s illegal to go to a foreign terror training camp and then return to the US.

See our archive of all the ‘missing Somali youths’ (former refugees) stories here.

For new readers and reporters who might be wondering how we came to have all these Somalis in the US, visit this post.