Chairman’s Report for February 24, 2011

INTERNATIONAL – MORE PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS

Christian Leaders Unhappy with Lack of Action on Nineveh Plain

[Reported by noted author Ken Timmerman who just returned from a fact-finding mission to northern Iraq supported by the Religious Freedom Coalition, where he met with secular and Christian leaders. His just-released book, St. Peter’s Bones, is a novel based on the story of the persecuted church in Iraq. For more about Ken, see www.kentimmerman.com]

Christians in northern Iraq are suffering day-to-day harassment from the Kurdish occupation forces in the Nineveh Plain, where corruption, a lack of development funds and the continued political stalemate have led many Christians to flee the country for exile abroad.

Main street through Bartella, in the Nineveh Plain, northern Iraq

The main Christian political parties in Iraq formed a “Minorities Council” after the Oct. 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad that killed 58 Christian worshippers and wounded 98 more, joining with representatives of the Yazidi and Shabak communities in the Nineveh Plain.

Last month, they officially requested that the Nineveh Plain be allowed to form a separate province, or governorate, under the terms of the Iraqi Constitution. So far, no action has been taken on their request, and Christians throughout the north fear that until they are allowed to control their own lives they will continue to be the victims of jihadi Muslim gangs and other terrorist groups.

The Nineveh Plain has been in an administrative limbo since 2004. It officially falls under the authority of Mosul, capital of the Nineveh Governorate, but is occupied by the security forces of the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil.

A plan backed by the Religious Freedom Coalition and by the U.S. military to train 770 Christian, Yazidi and Shabak police officers to replace the KRG security forces was thwarted by the deputy governor of Mosul, Khosrow Goran, who is a top member of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP). Under KDP leadership, the Kurds have been trying to finalize their de facto annexation of the ancestral Christian homeland.

The administrative limbo has had the concrete effect of stalling any form of development aid for the region. After the heavy winter rains, major streets in Bartella, a key crossroads in the Nineveh Plain, are mired in nearly a foot of mud, with a broken sewer system unable to handle the flow.

The single most urgent demand of all secular Christian leaders I met with in northern Iraq last week was the removal of the Kurdish security forces and peshmerga from the Nineveh Plain and their replacement by Iraqi government forces, to create a less tense atmosphere as negotiations over the future status of the region continue.

The KDP has reportedly dug 7 illegal oil wells in the Nineveh Plain. Local mayors who have tried to deny access to land under their jurisdiction to KDP geologists and drilling crews have been warned at gunpoint by Kurdish security forces to stand down.

“Christians are the meat in the sandwich between the Arabs and the Kurds,” said the mayor of Tel Keif, Basim Bello. Instead, he said that Christians wanted the Nineveh Plain to become a kind of “green line” between the two warring ethnic groups, which are disputing the oil-rich cities of Kirkuk and Mosul (and the potential oil reserves of the Nineveh Plain itself).

“We have problems with some church leaders,” Bello told me.  “They say if the Nineveh Plain becomes a province, our churches in Baghdad,Mosul and Basra will become museums.  But they are museums now!  Most churches in Baghdad now have just tens of people, whereas they used to be full.  There used to be 600,000 Christians in Baghdad.  Today, at most 100,000 remain.”

Community leaders in Karakosh, the administrative capital of the region, have petitioned Baghdad to build their own hospital and university, so they don’t have to drive hours into Erbil or make the potentially dangerous trip into nearby Mosul, where jihadi Muslim gangs lie in wait and continue to murder Christians on a regular basis.

They received strong support from the Archbishop of Mosul, Msg. Emil Shimoun Nona, who told me at the end of the three-day Rogation of the Ninevites ceremony that he felt it was vital for the survival of the Christian community in the north to have their own institutions.

“We need our own schools, our own hospital,” Nona said. He urged groups with influence in Congress to talk to members of Congress to get them to apply pressure on Baghdad to allow these projects to go forward. “The U.S. Congress can do a lot,” he said.

Archbishop Mosul and Ken Timmerman

Archbishop Mosul and Ken Timmerman

Louis Ayoub, who represents the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization in the Nineveh Plain, is spearheading the effort to build the hospital and university in Karakosh. “We already have the land for the hospital and have the design plans for the university,” he told me. “Now we are waiting for government approvals so we can seek the funding.”

Some money for these projects could be available through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Massive unemployment, a lack of adequate housing, and a corrupt administration that local mayors told me siphons off  half of their public works budgets, has created a climate of despair among Christians in the Nineveh Plain.

The U.S. needs urgently to pressure the Maliki government to take action on the demands of the Minorities Council before more Christians flee Iraq.

(The above report filed by Ken Timmerman on February 21, 2011)

PROTECT RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST – There are congressmen who care about the continued persecution of Christians in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Congressman Frank Wolf has introduced a bill in the House that would force the State Department to create a special envoy to deal with repressed religious minorities in Islamic nations. Wolf, who is co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, this month said that threats against religious minorities have been increasing during the past few months and that the United States has an obligation to at the very least speak out for the voiceless. “If the international community fails to speak out, the prospects for religious pluralism and tolerance in the region are bleak,” Wolf said in introducing HR 440.

Appointing a special envoy at the State Department to deal with the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim nations is not something Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants to do. Wolf’s HR-440 would force her to do just that. More co-sponsors to the bill are needed. Please contact your congressman and ask him to co-sponsor HR-440.

THE ISLAMIC WAR ON THAILAND – You will not hear about the Islamic war against Thailand from American news outlets, but the terror is real. Since the beginning of 2011 there have been 31 terror attacks in Thailand that have been documented, virtually all against innocent civilians who are Buddhists. So far 51 have died and more were injured. Most recently Muslims kidnapped and murdered two young Buddhist children in Yala. Many of the terror attacks are around the Yala and Pattani areas where Muslims want to create a separate sharia state for themselves. See details of the attacks at www.thereligionofpeace.com

Saints Peter and Paul Church attacked

INDONESIAN MOBS DESTROY CHURCHES –

How often do we hear in the media about the “moderate” Muslims of Indonesia? Well, those moderate Muslims attacked Christians and destroyed several churches because a Christian accused of “blasphemy” was sentenced to only five years in jail.  

The crowd first attacked the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul and wounded the priest. Father Saldanha was beaten by the mob, which then attacked and set fire to two Protestant churches, Bethel Church and Pantekosta Church, before terrorizing a Catholic orphanage and a hospital run by the Sisters of Providence. These attacks to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws are the same on the other side of the world where a secular leaning legislator in Pakistan was recently assassinated because he wanted to reduce the penalty for blasphemy there which is currently death. NOTE: Death is the punishment prescribed by the Qur’an. 

FREEDOM ON TRIAL IN EUROPE – Geert Wilders, the leader of the third largest political party in the Netherlands, is on trial once again for “hate speech.” He is just one of many leaders in Europe facing jail for telling the truth about Islam. Sometimes they are being tried in court for simply quoting the Qur’an. His second trial began this month.

“The lights are going out all over Europe, and it’s because of Islam,” Wilders told a packed courtroom at the beginning of his retrial. He continued, “There are no Islamic Mozarts or Bill Gates because they can’t exist where there is no creative freedom. An ideology that comes from the desert can only create a desert.”

THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE

NEW GZ MOSQUE IMAM KICKED OUT – When it comes to New York City, being a homosexual trumps just about all else, even being Muslim. Shariff el-Gamal, the Ground Zero mosque developer, found this out the hard way when he dumped party circuit imam Feisal Rauf for hardliner Abdallah Adhami. As soon as the new imam’s “anti-gay” lectures were exposed, the heat was on. Just a week after being named to replace Rauf, it was announced that Adhami  was leaving to “finish a book.” The reality is different.

Unlike Feisal Rauf who was able to keep his mouth shut on the “gay” issue while cruising parties with Arianna Huffington and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Adhami had lectures on the Internet that exposed the real position of Islam on homosexuality. Mayor Bloomberg didn’t have a problem with Adhami saying that those who leave Islam and become apostates should be jailed, but when he said homosexuals were not “born that way” the elites in New York like Bloomberg turned against him.

LIBERAL MEDIA HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS – The current edition of The Villager, a very liberal, pro-gay, pro-Obama, pro-anything-but-America weekly in New York City seems to be having second thoughts about the Cordoba House or Park 51 or P51 or whatever it is being called now. Most Americans (but not The Villager) call the project the Ground Zero mosque because it is being built on the human remains of the victims of 9-11. In an editorial this week the Villager looks at the project differently than when it was announced:

“Nine months later, that original presentation seems like a mischaracterization, at best. At worst, it seems like nothing more than the jump-off point for a public-relations spin campaign. The message we applauded and the project this community center has become are now murky and muddled.”

Suddenly left leaning journalists are coming to realize that Sharif el-Gamal, the for-profit developer with the credit problems, and party animal Imam Feisal Rauf are not exactly cut from the same cloth. Those of us who understand Islam at its core knew that the project was “murky and muddled” from the beginning because we are familiar with taqiyya. Taqiyya is the allowance in Islam for Muslims to lie to non-Muslims for the purpose of advancing Islam. Updates on the Ground Zero mosque situation can be found at www.no911mosque.org.

“WHITE MALE” THREATENS TO BOMB MOSQUE – Not “the mosque”, but another one in Dearborn, Michigan. Earlier this month the liberal media ran the story of a “white male Vietnam veteran” who attempted to bomb a mosque near Detroit. The Islamic organization CAIR immediately issued a press release stating this proved “Islamaphobia.” OOPS … the man, Roger Dale Stockham, had converted to Islam in an Indonesian prison and speaks fluent Arabic. He threatened to bomb the mosque because he is a Shiite and the mosque is Sunni. Previously he had been arrested for threatening the life of President George W. Bush while he was in office. As soon as it became apparent that Stockham was a Muslim who had threatened a President, the mainstream media dropped the story.

William J. Murray, Chairman

Religious Freedom Coalition, 601 Pennsylvania Ave, NW  #900 , Washington, DC 20004 * (202) 742-8990

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