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Madison Church hears plight of Christians in Iraq

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  • Al Green
    http://www.recordernewspapers.com/articles/2009/06/07/madison_eagle/news/doc4a26e8b7b5671383435121.txt Madison Church hears plight of Christians in Iraq
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2009
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      Madison Church hears plight of Christians in Iraq

      Published: Jun 5th, 5:22 AM

      MADISON - On Sunday, March 22, a delegation from the Chicago-based Iraqi Christian Relief (ICR) Council presented "Save the Flickering Light of Christianity in Iraq" at a community-wide educational and fund-raising event hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Madison on Green Avenue.
      More than 50 people attended the ICR Council's inaugural east coast event and learned about the rampant religious cleansing afflicting Iraqi Christians in their war-torn homeland. Nearly $10,000 was raised on March 22, funds that will directly aid desperate Christians in Iraq.

      Modern-day Iraqi Christians are Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs that trace their ancestry back to the great Assyrian and Babylonian empires cited in the Old Testament. They practice Christian Orthodox, Catholic, and Presbyterian Reformed faiths.

      Persecution Takes Toll

      Prior to 2004, Iraq's Christians numbered 1.4 million. Today, according to the ICR Council, daily violent persecution has slashed the Christian population to about 700,000. They have been forced to worship underground, and the extensive violence against them – extortion, kidnapping, torture and murder, church bombings, and Christian leader beheadings – has left the refugees with great basic everyday needs.

      "With no home, food, work, school, or medical care," said Juliana Taimoorazy, IRC Council president, "the need is great to help these poor indigenous people. Their hope within is slowly diminishing, and it now lies with allies outside Iraq."

      Two of the March 22 program's presenters know this despair, and hope, firsthand. Randa Danka is a war survivor who was born and raised in Baghdad. She and her husband lived in Mosul until he fell victim to persecution and she was left to mourn his violent death. Danka and her daughter fled to Syria, and then came to Chicago, Ill., a year and a half ago.

      Violet Khamoo is one of the original volunteers for the ICR Council. On a recent visit to northern Iraq, she personally witnessed the horrific living conditions of the Christians there. Khamoo is from Kirkuk, Iraq, and currently resides in Chicago.

      The ICR Council is an all-volunteer, 501c(3)-pending organization founded in Chicago in 2007 by Taimoorazy. Born and raised in Tehran, she lived through eight years of war and bombings, the loss of loved ones, and persecution. She lived as a refugee in two different countries before arriving in the U.S. 18 years ago.

      Once here, Taimoorazy put herself through school while working part time and adapting to a new language and culture. Often cited as a "warrior against discrimination," she is described as personally and professionally dedicated to those in her community who are less fortunate, helping them to build a better life.

      'Little Has Been Heard'

      Taimoorazy's unwavering passion and commitment fueled the formation of the ICR Council. As an affiliate with the Assyrian Aid Society, a 501c
      (3) organization, the ICR Council's mission is to raise awareness and funds for Christians in Iraq and provide them with food, shelter, and medicine. The group's Web site at www.iraqichristianrelief.org describes the organization's work, which includes radio show appearances and the recent completion of a documentary film.

      Said Benjamin Ostrom, Madison Presbyterian Church Elder and Mission and Outreach Committee member, "Through the years of the war in Iraq, these long-standing, small, native communities were thrust into a maelstrom, similar to that witnessed for minorities in Sudan, Bosnia, and even Rwanda. Yet, little has been heard of their unique suffering. Even relative peace in Iraq does not cease their plight, and urgent action is needed."
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