By Miriam Raftery
Photo, left: Noori Barka speaks as slideshow depicts Iraqi Christian refugees forced to walk across the desert, fleeing their homeland to escape ISIS terrorists with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
September 4, 2014 (ElCajon)--Community members and religious leaders came together on August 27 in El Cajon at a fundraiser to help save Christians in Iraq who have fled their homes to escape the Islamic State imposed by ISIS terrorists. ISIS is systematically massacring Christians and other minorities who refuse to convert to Islam. The event, which was emceed by KCBQ radio host Mark Larson, raised over $588,000.
Bishop Sharhad Jammo (photo, right) has pledged to personally travel to the Middle East to deliver the donations, despite grave dangers in the region, where Christian religious leaders have been kidnapped, tortured and murder.
East County Chaldean Bishop Jammo to personally deliver donations from Iraqi Christian Relief Fund fundraiser to persecuted Christians in Iraq
East County News Service
August 27, 2014 (El Cajon) Tonight at 7 p.m., over 700 San Diegans, including the Chaldean community, will gather in solidarity to raise funds for persecuted Iraqi Christians, at the Iraqi Christian Relief Fund (ICRF) fundraiser at St Peters Chaldean Cathedral in Rancho San Diego.
This is the first major fundraiser in San Diego for persecuted Iraqi Christians.
Speakers at the fundraiser showing unity with Iraqi Christians, will include Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor of Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego.
By Miriam Raftery
August 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The California Assembly Rules Committee has stalled an emergency measure, SJR 17, by Senator Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) that calls for executive action to left a regional immigration ceiling and allow persecuted Iraqi Christians to come to America.
The measure faces imminent death Monday unless legislators act, said Mark Arabo, national spokesman for Iraqi Christians and President/CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association. Concerned citizens are urged to call Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins at (916)319-2078 and Assemblyman Richard Gordon, Chair of the Assembly Rules Committee at (650) 691-2121 today to urge passage of SJR 17.
United Nations passes resolution for sanctions against ISIS backers; local Iraqis ask for airlifts to save lives
Hear our exclusive interview with Mark Arabo on progress at the United Nations to save Iraqi Christians, originally aired Aug. 20 on the East County Magazine Show on KNSJ 89.1 FM:
By Miriam Raftery
August 21, 2014 (El Cajon) – Chanting “Save Iraq, save humanity,” and “Save Iraqi Christians,” hundreds of Iraqi-Americans marched through the streets of El Cajon on Tuesday. Many are gravely concerned about family members trapped in Iraq or who have fled as refugees as terrorists now calling themselves the Islamic State have seized cities across Iraq, torturing , killing or kidnapping those who refuse to convert to Islam. The community showed support, with many motorists honking horns and drawing cheers.
Speakers, including former State Senator Wadie Deddeh, Chaldean-American leader Mark Arabo, and religious leaders also turned out to show solidarity with the persecuted minorities of Iraq.
By Miriam Raftery
August 18, 2014 (El Cajon)—Mark Arabo, a national leader among Chaldean Christians in the U.S., has announced plans to lead a “massive” group of Iraqi Christians in a “peace walk to end genocide in Iraq” Tuesday in El Cajon.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians and other minorities have been displaced from their homes, murdered or mutiliated in attacks by ISIS terrorists in Iraq who now call themselves the Islamic State. A prayer vigil earlier this month for Iraq Christians held in El Cajon drew an estimated 2,000 people.
August 1, 2014 (El Cajon) – Tomorrow, nearly 12,000 people worldwide will be staging protests over the violence against Christians in Iraq and Syria. In San Diego's East County, Ben and Jessica Kalasho have organized a local protest at 6 p.m. in Prescott Promenade Park on Main Street in downtown El Cajon.
ISIS terrorsts have sprayed the red letter for "Nazarene" shown at left on Christian homes, where residents face a choice of converting to Islam or death. Many have fled, seeking safe refuge.
A Facebook page for the local event lists 156 participants so far. “Join us to stand in solidarity with our Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac brothers and sisters around the world to protest the violence against the Christians in Iraq and Syria,” Kalasho writes. Guests can RSVP at the Facebook page here locally: https://www.facebook.com/events/813180182039823/permalink/815478478476660/
In other cities visit https://www.facebook.com/events/653888978028664/ or scroll down for a list of events listed as of now:
RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS OFFER HOPE AMID DESPAIR TO PERSECUTED IRAQI CHRISTIANS AT PRAYER VIGIL IN EL CAJON: HEAR AUDIO
By Miriam Raftery
Update: Hear our audio highlights from the vigil, as reported on KNSJ 89.1.
Click here to listen now: http://kiwi6.com/file/31hofx5nbg
July 26, 2014 (El Cajon)--Local political and religious leaders offered messages of hope for Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution and genocide in Iraq, many of them seeking to find refuge in America. They offered a safe haven here in East County, as well as political actions now underway in Washington D.C. and Sacramento to aid Christians in their homeland.
“When they come here, I want you to tell them they will be safe here,” Mayor Bill Wells told the crowd during a prayer vigil in El Cajon’s Centennial Plaza last night that was attended by an estimated 2,000 people.
The Mayor denounced the “unconscionable” slaughter of Iraqi Christians by ISIS terrorists who have declared a caliphate, or Muslim state, in the Mosul area, where churches dating back to Biblical times are being destroyed and Christians ordered to convert to Islam or die by the sword.
East County News Service
July 25, 2014 (El Cajon) -- The recent persecution of Iraqi Christians has outraged people all over the world. Over 40,000 Chaldeans and other Iraqi Christians live in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, which has one of the world’s largest concentrations of Chaldeans. Tonight, elected officials, community leaders and Christian leaders of all denominations are coming together I El Cajon for a vigil in support of persecuted Iraqi Christians.
The event is organized by City Transformation, San Diego Leadership Forum and the Chaldean Council for Public Affairs. Leaders in attendance will include El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, Bishop Sarhad Jammo from St. Peter Chaldean Diocese, Dr. Jim Garlow, pastor at Skyline Church, Pastor Mark Hoffman from Foothills Church, and other local political representatives, community and church leaders.
CHRISTIAN HOMES MARKED, FAMILIES KILLED: EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS RALLY FOR HELP TO SAVE IRAQI CHRISTIANS
Hear our radio special report on the Save Iraq Christians rally, plus our interview with East County Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce president Ben Kalasho on the worsening crisis in Iraq: http://kiwi6.com/file/iw4izsdhq7
By Miriam Raftery
July 21, 2014 (El Cajon) –They carried an American flag, proud to be in a country where they are free. But their hearts ache for loved one endangered in their homeland: Iraq. They are Iraqi-American Christians who rallied Friday in El Cajon's Promenade Park, pleading for political leaders to save Iraqi Christians from massacre by terrorists invaders who have declared an Islamic state, or caliph.
Farouk Georges shared the latest chilling news. Just one day earlier, he revealed, sources inside Iraq told him that the terrorist group ISIS “issued a decree against the Christians of Nineva…They are asking them to leave, or to convert to Islam, or be killed.”
A million and a half Christians in Iraq have been displaced, said Ben Kalasho, president of the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce and organizer of the rally. “We’ve counted 120 churches that have been bombarded and destroyed.” Thousands of Iraqi Christians have been killed, hundreds have been kidnapped and as of a few days ago, he revealed, “ISIS has spray-painted the letter N on Christian homes, letting everyone know where the Christians live.” The N is for Nasrani, an Arabic word meaning Christian.
(caution: graphic photos)
July 18, 2014 (El Cajon) – East County is home to an estimated 40,000 Iraqi Chaldean Christians as well as many Assyrians and Syriacs.
Local Iraqis including the Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, churches and other groups, ask the community to join them in a rally today, July 18 at El Cajon City Hall , 200 Civic Center Way, to urge protection and humanitarian help for those now fleeing Iraq, where a terrorist group has declared an Islamic caliph and is slaughtering Christians and other minorities.
A petition has also been launched calling on U.S. representatives to consider creating a safe haven for Assyrians and other minorities in the Nineveh Plains.
July 1, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--This week, the extremist group ISIS declared an Islamic caliphate stretching from Syria across Iraq following weeks of mounting violence. On June 25, prior to the declaration, we aired a second interview with San Diego Chaldean-American leader Mark Arabo following his meetings with the State Department, members of Congress and high-level U.S. officials. We discussed international efforts to bring peace to the region, form a more inclusive government and protect Iraqi Christians.
Hear our interview here: http://kiwi6.com/file/jj6adf49ou
(Note: We apologize for being late posting podcasts from last week, due to our editor's daughter having surgery. She is recovering fine, and thanks to those who sent good wishes.)
By Miriam Raftery
April 25, 2014 (El Cajon) – Iraq will hold elections for parliamentary offices including Prime Minister on April 30. All Iraqi-born people living in the U.S. are eligible to vote, the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce announced today. Locally, eligible voters can cast their ballots on April 27-28 at the Crystal Ballroom, 414 North Magnolia Avenue in El Cajon from 12-2 p.m.
“This is arguably the biggest election since the fall of Saddam Hussein due to the unique circumstance of post-troop withdraw and immense violence,” said Ben Kalasho, president of the Chamber.
East County Rep also calls Middle Easterners liars, draws fire for remarks
By Miriam Raftery
December 8, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) Updated 8:40 p.m. – Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-El Cajon), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has long been known as a hawk on military matters. But in an interview on CSPAN’s Washington Journal this week, the former Marine went further, voicing support for use of "tactical nuclear devices" if the U.S. launches an air strike against Iran. He backed use of tactical, or non-strategic nuclear weapons to set Iran's reported effort at developing a nuclear weapon "back a decade, or two or three."
Hunter, whose San Diego region district includes over 80,000 Middle Eastern immigrants, also ignited controversy when he stated,”In the Middle Eastern culture, it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible, no matter what it takes. That includes lying.” (View video of full interview.)
October 25, 2013 (El Cajon) – El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis has resigned, effective immediately. In his resignation letter, the Mayor cited health reasons, including cancer, a dislocated shoulder and a minor stroke in 2010. “Unfortunately at times, this has caused me some difficulties in clearly communication my thoughts, including during the recent interviews that have caused understandable concern,” he wrote, adding that he is stepping down to avoid further concerns by citizens and to “allow our City Council and community o move forward in their work to make this City the finest place it can be.”
He added, “I deeply love our town and have given a major portion of my adult life to its wellbeing and, so, this is a bittersweet moment for me."
By Miriam Raftery
April 8, 2013 (El Cajon ) – In Babylon 7,313 years ago, Chaldea became the first nation to celebrate Akitu, a New Year Festival heralding the arrival of spring and the renewal of life. Yesterday the tradition continued in El Cajon’s Prescott Promenade Park, where thousands of local Chaldeans turned out to celebrate the ancient tradition. View a video: http://youtu.be/YfeKE22-wXw
“We are doing it to celebrate and have some fun with other, and to keep remembering,” Wissam Gello, a local Iraqi Chaldean told ECM. “Our children will keep doing this every year, to remember and tell the truth.”
January 18, 2012 -- (San Diego’s East County)--East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:
- California lawmakers take another crack at single payer healthcare bill (Sacramento Bee)
- Jerry Brown’s budget demands would strip demands, payments from local governments (Sacramento Bee)
- Education magazine gives California a “C” for its students (Sacramento Bee)
- California in eye of Internet piracy storm (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Can $20 a head “cash mobs” save local shops? (U-T San Diego)
- E. County leaders like their politics unbuttoned (U-T San Diego)
- Parents protest, but are told school attendance boundaries won’t change (La Mesa Patch)
- San Diego County Water Authority challenges rate (KPBS)
- Stuck in traffic, long awaited Park Place project awaits fifth study (La Mesa Patch)
- Chaldeans launch community newspaper (U-T San Diego)
- Chickens finally okayed in Santee (U-T San Diego)
- 5 involved in Sweetwater District probe plead not guilty (10 News)
- Sweetwater says workers stole from cafeterias (U-T San Diego)
- Campaign limits proposed for Southwestern and San Diego Schools (U-T San Diego)
September 3, 2011 (El Cajon) – The Chaldean American Institute present its Second Annual Chaldean Festival this weekend. The event showcases authentic Chaldean food, traditional folk music, arts, dancing, sports tournaments and a fashion show. A special musical performance by TIMZ, a nationally awarded American-born rapper of Chaldean descent, is scheduled for Sunday. Festival proceeds will be used to fund community development programs in San Diego County.
December 18, 2010 (El Cajon) – Christmas on Prescott, a unique Chaldean Christmas Celebration, will be held Saturday, December 18 from 1-5 p.m. on Prescott Promeande in downtown El Cajon. The event will feature Christian Arabic carols and music, English carols and music, skits, Santa Claus, face painting, balloons, and more. In addition, downtown stores and restaurants are open while you enjoy the free Holly Jolly Trolley around downtown, strolling Christmas carolers, and merchant specials.
IRAQI CHRISTIANS IN EAST COUNTY TO HOLD PRAYER GATHERING TONIGHT IN REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE KILLED BY AL QAEDA IN NOV. 1 ATTACK DURING MASS SERVICE IN IRAQ
November 3, 2010 (San Diego's East County) – East County’s Iraqi Christians will hold a prayer gathering tonight from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Prescott Promenade at 201 East Main Street, El Cajon.
A crowd of 500 or more is expected to attend the gathering, which is held in remembrance of Iraqi Christians massacred November 1st in an Al Qaeda attack on a Catholic church in Iraq.
Nearly 85% of local refugees are from war-torn Iraq, straining resources on schools and social services; local leaders call for major changes in treatment of refugees
"We can create a national model," -- Sunny Cooke, president, Grossmont College
November 12, 2009 (El Cajon) – Impacts of the Iraq War are hitting home in East County, where so many Iraqi refugees have settled that El Cajon's mayor has dubbed a section of his community "Little Baghdad." From Oct. 1, 2008 to October 1, 2009, the U.S. admitted almost 75,000 refugees—including 18,333 from Iraq.* Since October 2008, San Diego has been taking in 400 refugee families a month. Nearly 85% are from Iraq. Almost 75% of all area refugees have settled in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District (GCCCD), straining resources beyond capacity in social services, education, and healthcare.
“Social Services predicts that 200 to 300 new families will be entering East County each month for the next two or three years,” Mike Lewis, PhD, assistant superintendent of education for the Grossmont Union High School District said at a November 6 summit at Cuyamaca College titled Spotlight on Refugee Education and Employment. Some have spent weeks or even years in refugee camps. Many don’t speak English and have not been able to receive an education. Many refugees are also physically maimed by war or suffer post-traumatic stress. Often they receive misinformation and find steep barriers to getting the help that they need.