|HOME About Christian Blogging About Martin Roth My Novels|
A Plea to All Christians – Do Not Forget the Assyrians
The friendly Assyrian couple who manage my local petrol station were smiling when I filled up my car on Tuesday.
“We phone our family in Mosul every day. Everything’s fine.”
“The phones are working?”
“The only time we couldn’t get through was on the first day of the war. Everything’s okay.”
But this morning, when I went to top up the car, before the regular pre-weekend petrol price jump, they were distraught.
“Paratroops have landed. There’s fighting.”
The Assyrians – living in northern Iraq for 5,000 years, and still speaking a form of Aramaic, the language of Jesus – are among the world’s persecuted Christians.
For a time they enjoyed a certain degree of protection from Saddam Hussein’s regime. But when Hussein’s problems with the West deepened, the persecution began. As war with America approached, the hostility has become worse. According to the Christian news service, Compass Direct:
Over the past few weeks, local church leaders report that anti-Christian rhetoric has dominated Friday-prayer sermons in Baghdad’s mosques….Ignoring the government’s previous rules on religious tolerance, Muslim preachers have urged their listeners to “fight the followers of the devil”, openly labelling Christians (known locally as “Nazarenes”) as “infidels”.
...From the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Northern Iraq, a leading evangelical clergyman told Compass this week that he and his church members expect potential attacks from both Islamic militants as well as from secular anti-Western elements….Just two days ago, the pastor said, he had prepared his church members to be ready to leave their homes, shops and church buildings within a half-hour’s notice.
Yet few in the West are even aware of the problem. Is it little wonder that the Assyrian diaspora in the West are so angry? You can feel the frustration in their online forums. Here’s one example:
I get so frustrated with our current situation sometimes. I think for my own health I should stop watching the news, otherwise I think my heart would break. I don't know what the future will bring, but I am pessimistic.
I have been thinking a lot about why we don’t have as much political influence in the world as we should. After all, we are smart, wealthy, industrious, cultured, etc. So why do governments and the media talk endlessly about the Kurds and rarely about us. Whether it’s the White House, CNN, Iraqi opposition or whoever, we are always “off of their radar screen”. Why?
So a plea to all Christians – do not forget the Assyrians. Please keep them on your radar screens.
March 28th, 2003