Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Syriacs

Iraqi Folklore Party

beth-nahrain-2

My husband and I attended a party the other day that was hosted by Beth Nahrain Community Club, a new club that I recently wrote about. It was lovely to see the people who are all connected through heritage and bloodline meet in one banquet hall, together celebrating their folklore dances and costumes that span from various villages in northern Iraq  – something that, unfortunately, people who are still living in our ancestors’ ancient land are not able to do.

Some of the people at the party ran into relatives they had not seen in decades. Beth Nahrain seeks to solidify the bond and spirit of friendship and fellowship among the shareholders, their families and friends. Its founders are working with various Iraqi Christians organizations and/or groups (Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Syriacs) in an effort to coordinate resources for the betterment of the community. The goal is to preserve customs, traditions, and social values.

“We wanted a club that would accommodate all families without discrimination or an attempt to dominate one group over another,” said Sammer Tolla, senior loan officer at Security Mortgage in Sterling Heights. “The main goal is for our families to feel they have a place where our community could safely gather and get to know each other, and also for the new generation to meet and know each other. We want to start programs for the young people so they can take leadership roles.”

Sammer says that there was a private club in Baghdad, with a pool and various social activities, where Christian Iraqis gathered called Al Mashriq. Many had their wedding receptions and other celebrations there.

“If we don’t start now, I don’t think our children would do it at all,” said Shawki Bahri. “Once we establish it, they will do a better job carrying it forward because they are mostly open-minded and well-educated. They will be able to incorporate their professions, skills, and knowledge into this community.”

Watch this short video of the party:

Here’s an article I wrote about this club which was published by the Chaldean News: http://www.chaldeannews.com/efforts-to-add-eastside-club-gaining-steam/

 

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ISIS Continues Targeting Christians

Assyrians

My friend Nahren sent me the following report:

It is being reported by my journalist friends in Khabour that ISIS has started using the Assyrian Christian hostages as human shields including the children against the Syrian Military. It is confirmed that the amount of hostages right now are 217 and the difference from the original amount were hiding in red zone areas until they made their way back to their families and were identified. However, ISIS is requesting a ransom of $100,000 per Assyrian Christian hostage. The Sheikhs are trying to demand for their release through consistent communication and the sheiks claim that the 217 are still alive. Many Americans and non-Assyrians have attempted to drive into the Northern Part of Khabour which is under the Kurdish occupation. They were turned away even with permits from the KRG.

It is also reported by numerous sources that as some of the civilians made their ways back to their homes, they found that the Kurds completely have taken over their homes and properties. They were told that their homes did not belong to them anymore. Journalists and media are not permitted in the area anymore and witnesses have confirmed that they were allowing only Kurdish civilians to enter through the border. Furthermore, it is reported that the Kurds are already attempting to convert the Assyrian Christian village names into Kurdish names (it’s confirmed that 2 to 3 villages have already been changed).

I asked Nahren, who with other activists demands international protection, why the Iraqi minorities have not yet been helped. She explained part of the problem.

“Our own people are so divided in organizations, political parties, churches and so forth,” she said. “The day our people (Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs) will unite like we used to be, I promise that Nineveh will rise with an amazing power that will be distinguishable in the world.”

Which reminded me of the famous Pogo quote, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”