Iraq

CALLS NEEDED TO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO SAVE IRAQI CHRISTIANS, REVIVE RESOLUTION, LOCAL LEADERS SAY

 

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.

PEACE MARCHERS IN EL CAJON ASK U.S. & UNITED NATIONS FOR AIRLIFTS, ASYLUM TO SAVE IRAQI CHRISTIANS

 

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:

http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/6scu4kz7x2/Arabo-UNresolutioninterviewfor8-20-14show-FINAlwithrallyclips.mp3

 

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.

COMMUNITY RALLIES TO HELP RAMONA MARINE WHO LOST LEGS IN AFGHANISTAN EXPLOSION

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 20, 2014 (Ramona)--On August 9th, Brandon Dodson’s life changed forever.  The Marine Corps Staff Sergeant from Ramona was on combat patrol in Hemand Provice, Iraq when an Improvised Explosive Device, or IED detonated.  He lost both legs and suffered other serious injuries including a fractured pelvis, broken tailbone and broken hand, KPBS reports.

LOCAL KURDS RALLY TO PROTEST ISIS TERRORIST ATTACKS: HEAR OUR INTERVIEW WITH A LOCAL KURDISH-AMERICAN WITH FAMILY IN TURMOIL

 

 Hear our interview with  a local Kurdish-American woman whose family is caught up in the tragic actions unfolding in Kurdistan under the ISIS assault. Listen online now: (This interview originally aired on the East County Magazine Show on KNSJ  radio 89.1 FM)

 

Anguish hits home for local Kurdish residents

By Miriam Raftery

August 15, 2014 (San Diego) – “This is a great humanitarian tragedy, and another genocide against the Kurdish nation,” Kurdish-American Amina (who asked that her last name be withheld) told East County Magazine.  She is horrified at news reports of beheadings, mass graves and the kidnapping of young girls as sex slaves by ISIS terrorists who have laid siege to the city of Shingal and trapped 100,000 refugees atop the Shingal Mountain. She is also frightened by what she is hearing from relatives in the region.

"No one feels safe there. People are hopeless,” she says.

Now the crisis has impacted her own family, like many of the 4,000 to 5,000 Kurdish people in the San Diego region and 15,000 Kurds in the U.S. overall. 

“The Kurdish people know that their dear Peshmarga do not have weapons to defend them from these barbarians, and this makes them live and die in fear. We hear that the Kurdish government is asking people (one of them being my brother) to find themselves weapons and join the Peshmarga,” she wrote in an e-mail to East County Magazine. “Sadly, most people do not have weapons, so if they go to war, they will go with bare hands.”

Audio: 

PEACE WALK TO END GENOCIDE IN IRAQ:AUGUST 19 IN EL CAJON

 

 

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.

PRESIDENT LAUNCHES AIR STRIKES AGAINST IRAQI TERRORISTS TO HALT “GENOCIDE”

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: President Obama meets with national security advisors on August 7 (WhiteHouse.gov)

August 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – U.S. fighter jets today dropped two 500-pound bombs on terrorists’ artillery that were being used to attack Kurdish forces in Irbil, the capitol of the Kurdish province in Iraq. In addition, U.S. planes dropped humanitarian relief to aid refugees stranded without food or water.

President Barack Obama last night authorized the use of force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Al Qaeda splinter group that has renamed itself the Islamic State.  The President also authorized humanitarian aid for victims of ISIS forced to flee their homes or be killed, including persecuted Christians and other religious minorities. The President made clear however that he will not authorize ground troops in the conflict.

Locally the announcement drew praise from Mark Arabo, CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association and a national spokesman for Iraqi Christians.

​"​Our work that began seven weeks ago in Congressman Juan Vargas’ office has resulted in a crescendo of tears, smiles and joy throughout the ​entire Iraqi Christian community​," Arabo said, referring to a Congressional resolution authored by Vargas and drafted by Arabo calling for humanitarian aid. 

HOUSE PASSES VARGAS RESOLUTION CALLING FOR PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN IRAQ

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 2, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – It's rare for Congress to agree on anything given the partisan divide in Washington.  But House Resolution 683, authored by Congressman Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) , passed the House of Representatives unanimously yesterday. The measure expresses the urgent need to protect religious minorities in Iraq from persecution at the hands of the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Levand (ISIL). The measure was coauthored by three other San Diego representatives (Republican Duncan Hunter as well as Democrats Susan Davis and Scott Peters)

“I am pleased the House of Representatives is shedding light on this important topic and supporting our nation’s need to be vocal in the face of the horrific crimes taking place against Iraqi civilians,” said Rep. Vargas. “This resolution expresses the urgent need to protect religious minorities who are fleeing persecution in Iraq’s ISIL-held territories.  Religious freedom is the cornerstone of any free society and we must do everything in our power to provide immediate protection and humanitarian assistance to individuals facing horrific crimes because of their religious beliefs.” 

Mark Arabo, a national spokesman for Iraqi Christians and president of the Neighborhood Market Association locally, heralded passage of the resolution as “a historic day that will go into the annals of Iraqi Christian history.”

WHITE HOUSE CONDEMNS ISIS ACTIONS AGAINST CHRISTIANS

 

East County News Service



August 2, 2014 (Washington D.C.)—The White House has issued its first official condemnation of the persecution and massacre of Iraqi Christians by ISIS terrorists.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes met with Iraqi Chaldean and Assyrian leaders on July 31st to discuss the security situation in Iraq and its effect on Christian and other minority populations.

“Mr. Rhodes appreciated hearing the vital perspectives of these important communities regarding the difficulties facing Iraq’s Christians. He condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) ongoing attacks on the Christian and minority communities in northern Iraq and the group’s systematic destruction of religious sites," a statement issued by the White House press secretary later in the day reads.   Rhodes further emphasized that "the United States continues to urge Iraq’s leaders to form an inclusive government that can address the rights and legitimate concerns of all of Iraq’s diverse communities, including Iraq’s Christians – only then can Iraq successfully and sustainably confront the security and humanitarian challenges all of its citizens face in the common fight against ISIL," the White House press secretary stated.

WORLDWIDE PROTEST AUGUST 2 OVER VIOLENCE AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ & SYRIA

 

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

Hear our audio highlights from the vigil, as reported on KNSJ 89.1.  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.

THOUSANDS EXPECTED AT PRAYER VIGIL FOR IRAQI CHRISTIANS TONIGHT

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)

IRAQ VIDEO: BEFORE THE WAR

 

East County News Service

July 2, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Ben Kalasho, president of the East County Chaldean-American Chamber of Commerce, has posted a video on his Facebook page to show what Iraq was like before the war and the violence currently tearing the nation apart.  He writes,

"A lot of people always ask me what IRAQ was like before U.S. intervention. I always hear the same things; Was it all desert? Was it hard to live there? Was it safe? Was it clean? Sometimes I wondered if they thought we were nomads living in tents. Perhaps even huddled on a sidewalk somewhere begging for change.

I am glad to see this video being made. For those who have never been to IRAQ pre U.S. occupation, this should serve as a great visual tool." 

MARK ARABO DISCUSSES GENOCIDE IN IRAQ, INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO CREATE A MORE INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENT

 

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, originally aired June 18, 2014:  http://kiwi6.com/file/jj6adf49ou

IRAQI ELECTIONS APRIL 30; LOCAL VOTING APRIL 27 & 28 IN EL CAJON

 

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.

MASGOOF AT NAHRAIN: THE AFFORDABLE FEAST

 

 

East County Eater's Restaurant Review

Nahrain Fish & Chicken Grill (Facebook: NahrainFish&ChickenGrill)

1183 E. Main Street, #A, El Cajon, CA 92021 (619)334-3222

March 29, 2013 (El Cajon )—Masgoof—fish smoked whole in a clay oven with wood fire, Iraqi-style--at Nahrain Fish & Chicken Grill in El Cajon  is the freshest you’ll find in East County.  Choose from fish caught daily displayed in a glass case, or at times, take the opportunity to catch your own with a fishing net in a tiled pool inside this eatery, which is popular with  both Middle Eastern and Western customers.

My dining companion and I savor a whole red snapper that is tender and juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside with a paper thin skin and a delightful smoked wood flavor.  It is served with a mango sauce (amba) that is balanced, sweet and spicy, along with onions, tomatoes, lemon parsley and freshly baked tanoor bread.

NEW DETAILS EMERGE ON IRAQI WOMAN SLAIN IN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery

March 25, 2012 (El Cajon ) – The body of Shaima Alawadi, the 32-year-old Iraqi mother of five who died following a brutal attack in El Cajon last week, will be flown to Iraq for burial. The Detroit Free Press reports that her father, Sayed Nabeel Alawadi, a Shia cleric, confirmed that the Iraqi government will pay for the shipping expense.

Her murder has sparked outrage around the globe--and a show of solidarity among students in distant places.

IRAQI WOMAN DIES AFTER BRUTAL BEATING, THREATS

Update March 25, 2012:  Outrage over Alawadi's brutal murder has spread around the world.  Now a Facebook page called One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi has been launched, featuring a photo of college students wearing hijabs in a show of solidarity with the El Cajon murder victim:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Million-Hijabs-for-Shaima-Alawadi/137306256397032

March 24, 2012 (El Cajon ) – Shaima Alawadi, 32, mother of five children, has died of injuries sustained Wednesday when she was found savagely beaten in her home.

ECM news partner 10 News  confirms that Alawadi was taken off life support this afternoon. The death is being investigated as a murder--and a family member believes the killing was a hate crime.

HUNTER INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION HONORING SERVICE OF U.S. MILITARY IN IRAQ

 
January 29, 2012 (Washington D.C.) 
— Friday, Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Tim Murphy (R-PA), introduced a bipartisan resolution with 100 original cosponsors, expressing gratitude to members of the U.S. Armed Forces for their service and sacrifice in Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.  The resolution is available here.

 

AFTER EIGHT YEARS OF WAR, WHAT DO IRAQIS THINK?

 

San Diego’s East County is home to the largest population of Iraq War refugees in the U.S. and the second largest Iraqi immigrant population the nation. In a special assignment for East County Magazine, Nabil Taha interviewed local Iraqis and also translated Iraqi TV reports to learn Iraqis’ views on withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

By Nabil Taha

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