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AINA – The postponement of the deadline for a new Iraqi Constitution was received as a reprieve of sorts by Assyrian Christians. The two most important points of contention in the Constitution deliberations are also the two most critical for Assyrian Christians including the growing role of Islam and the ever-expanding territory and autonomy in the Kurdish occupied region. Whereas for some communities the issues represent an opportunity for political and demographic muscle flexing, for Assyrian Christians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) and to some extent other minorities, the debates have transformed to matters of survival in an increasingly hostile Iraq. On August 9th in the Dora district of Baghdad 22 year old Sargon Isho was caught in the crossfire of two militant groups near the Mar Zaya church. On August 9th in Kirkuk 29 year-old, Saad Fawzi Abdiljabar was stabbed to death by his kidnappers in front of his home as he was leaving to work as an engineer in the Northern Iraq Oil company. On August 8th in Mosul 20 year-old arts college student Anita Tiadoros Harjo, was kidnapped in the Zuhur district of Mosul where she and her family reside. She was on her way to a nearby internet café. On August 6th in Bartilla, north Iraq the body of 42 year-old No’el Petrus, a pharmacist and a Bartilla native, was found on august 7th in nearby Mosul. Noe’l was kidnapped along with his brother, Amar, from his pharmacy in the city of Mosul and was later murdered. His brother was released after a $50K ransom was paid by the family. Two weeks earlier, Assyrian Christian residents of the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad awoke to find a new fundamentalist letter posted on their doors warning of the consequences if the family did not convert to Islam. Responding to the threats of violence, the families appealed to the police for help, but were ironically advised to seek help at the local mosque. As one Assyrian explained “in the streets as well as the constitution committee, Iraqis are abdicating to fundamentalists.” For Assyrian Christians, the prospects of an ever increasingly Islamized Iraq appear real. “This is not merely an exercise in semantics,” argued an Assyrian activist. These deliberations impact our daily lives from being forced to wear the veil to being assaulted as an infidel while shopping for food. When the State endorses a greater role for Islam, it automatically diminishes the status of non-Muslim minorities such as Christians, Yezidis, and Mandeans.”…[Go To Full Story]