On Saturday, August 2, more than 2,000 Christians gathered in San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza. The rally was one part of the worldwide day of protest to call attention to the plight of the Christian community in Iraq. Iraq’s Christians are now faced with a deadly choice: convert to Islam, leave their ancient home, or be murdered. The San Francisco protest joined others in Canada, London, Australia, Denmark, France, and other locations in the U.S. In Los Angeles several hundred protestors gathered in front of the Federal Building. The majority of the San Francisco protesters were American Assyrian Christians, and many carried or wore Assyrian flags, along with the stars and stripes, The now world-famous Arabic letter “nun” was everywhere. “Nun,” Arabic for the letter “n,” stands for Nazarenes, that is Christians. In a gruesome echo of the original Passover, the ISIS/ISIL terrorists, who now control large parts of Northern Iraq and parts of Syria, have been painted the letter on the doors of Iraqi Christians, marking them for extermination. ISIS stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“I’m burning for our history, our people…my heart is bleeding” said Remouz Malek-Zadeh, an Assyrian Christian, now living in the United States.
The rally began with an invocation by His Grace Mar Awa Royel, the California bishop of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. Bishop Royel was followed by Republican Congressman Jeff Denham, who represents California’s 10th District. Denham’s district includes 25,000 Assyrian Christians. The congressman urged Democrats and Republicans to put aside differences they might have and to address the catastrophe, and to stop funding the Iraqi government until it takes steps to protect its people. Congressman Denham joins his colleague Frank Wolf (R-Va.) who said last Thursday “I believe what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide. I also believe it is a crime against humanity…Where is the West? Where is the Obama administration? Where is the Congress? The silence is deafening.”
Some movement may finally be happening. What the Assyrian Christians are hoping for is the establishment of a U.N. protected safe haven on Iraq’s Ninevah plain. A chant at the San Francisco rally, and all the rallies worldwide, was “Safe Haven NOW!” On August 2, the House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 683 “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the current situation in Iraq and the urgent need to protect religious minorities from persecution from the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant as it expands its control over areas in northwestern Iraq.”
But more than a resolution is needed, and the rallies will continue. Further, the silence is not restricted to the halls of Congress. The San Francisco Chronicle gave zero coverage to the demonstration, although a rally of similar size on Sunday, August 3, in support of Israel, was front-page news. The only local mainstream media outlet to even mention the event was KTVU TV, San Francisco’s Fox affiliate, which had done a short story on the upcoming event last Wednesday.
The lack of coverage is not unique to San Francisco: Gary Fouse, who covered the Los Angeles rally wrote “Again and again, (the Christian protestors) asked why the world, the media, and President Obama were ignoring their plight.” The demonstrators, particularly the young, are using social media to do an end run around the mass media’s negligence. A young speakers at the San Francisco rally said “Everyone of you here today must use social media to get our message out!”
Although Latin Rite Catholics were present at the event, Catholic clergy were noticeable by their absence. The only clergy in attendance that CalCatholic saw were Deacon Dominick Peloso, of Menlo Park’s Church of the Nativity and pro-life veteran Sister Ignatius, RSHM. The Latin Catholic lay presence was better: Dolores Meehan and Kelly Connelly, co-founders of the Walk for Life West Coast were there, joined by other volunteers from the Walk; Franco Reguzzoni, a language teacher from De La Salle High School in Concord; a group of parishioners from San Francisco’s Saints Peter and Paul Church.
(Note: A commenter to this article informed us that Fr. Awraha Mansoor, the Episcopal Vicar to the Northern Vicarate of St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Diocese, and Fr. Potrus (Peter) Georgis, were also present.)
Following the rally, Bishop Royel and other clergy led the demonstrators on a march to Union Square, in the center of San Francisco’s downtown. The Latin Rite Catholics carried a papal flag with the now-famous “We Are N” sign affixed. The march was greeted by thumbs-up signs from pedestrians and supportive honks from drivers.
The Assyrian Christians of the diaspora will continue to be a voice for those suffering persecution in Iraq. On Friday, August 8, at 11:30AM, there will be another demonstration at San Francisco’s U.N. Plaza.
Details may be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/502162026581181/
Its devastating on what is happening in that part of the world. Christians are facing real trials. I pray that these words stay fresh in theirs hearts from our Lord:
” Then he saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Peter answering said to him: Thou art the Christ.” Mark 8:29
That question grew close to my heart as a child, when I read those words from holy scriptures, I felt goose bumps. Jesus asked with such tenderness. What a gentle Jesus, gentle soul, yet firm and loving. I will never be the same again after those young years of mine. Having been raised by my dad, who is from the holy land, he sure had stories to tell us what his people went through, persecution due to his Catholic faith. He came to this country to escape that and to practice his faith freely. He brought over his family, a few at a time. They sought out the church for community and unity.
May God have mercy and help these courageous Christians through these tough times in their lives.
We met lovely Christians out on the Plaza Saturday……so many suffering because their families have been hurt or killed. I spoke with some of the Assyrians that were there, I wanted to know what America should do……they all said “STOP ARMING THE REBELS”!!
“Convert-Flee-Die” was caused by the American-Israeli war crime which killed Saddam Hussein who not only protected Iraq Catholics but allowed their public worship.
It is easy to make accusations, give us facts if you have them!
May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
Viva Cristo Rey!
Yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher
Kenneth, We invaded Iraq based on false Mossard provided information.
I agree Warren. After we were involved in Operation Desert Storm, when Bush jr. was elected, I knew the first thing he would do was take revenge on Iraq…even before 9/11. The Bush family has personal involvement with Saudi Arabia who is probably behind much of the muslim attrocities taking place against Christians. In Iraq there were well over a million Catholics…in Saudi Arabia there is NOT ONE CHRISTIAN CHURCH of any kind, nor is ANY Christian worship allowed in any place in the entire God-forsaken country. How they continue to maintain such a complacent, holier-than-thou stance, out of the fray, is truly beyond me.
PS…let us not forget that it was a Saudi plane full of osama bin laden’s family flying back to their God-forsaken little country from a visit to the Bush family in Texas that was the ONLY plane allowed to fly after the 9/11 attacks. But I digress…it’s become the modus operandi of the day that when it walks and talks like a duck it is not a duck but an elephant.
A friend just sent this to me.
The Vatican, Al Kresta and many others have said it is urgent to send $$$ . The Knights of Columbus guarantee 100% goes to Iraq support.
Please print a retraction. There were Catholic clergy present at the event. Fr. Awraha Mansoor who is the Episcopal Vicar to the Northern Vicarate of St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Diocese, as well as Fr. Potrus (Peter) Georgis.
I think they were implying “Latin Rite Clergy”……I saw none.
Although I could not attend, I have been sending out information about the horrors that are being perpetrated against Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.. Hopefully Americans are finally waking up. My prayers are with all those suffering.
Thank you for the link, Anonymous.
Brothers and Sisters, “Get Out of the Boat” and have courage. Speak up for our brothers and sisters who are being slaughtered in the Mid-east! Every parish should be fasting and praying for these poor souls. We need to put pressure on our government to stop these barbarians!
I heard nothing at my parish last Sunday, did you?
Amen, Sandra…I’ve been posting over the past few months to please pray for our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq but I find everyone’s more interested in arguing about the TLM as opposed to the NO mass. Anyone who doubts who the real enemy is and how they’re making tremendous inroads around the world (and sneaking in through our unguarded borders) had better start waking up to the fact that these heartless, remorseless murdering savages have one end in mind, and it isn’t for the glorification of Jesus Christ! Jesus said to love our enemies, so we should definitely try to save them from their misguided and satanic beliefs, just as our faithful crusading ancestors did.