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Chaldean Iraqi Doctors Systematically Being Kidnapped
By Ann Bahri :: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 :: 24019 Views :: Government & Society
Kirkuk, IRAQ - Chaldeans have long begged the world to pay attention to the pillaging of Christians in Iraq.  The Iraqi war drew devastating consequences to the Christian minority in the region.  “A consequence overlooked by a beleaguered American administration in their haste to war,” says Rafid Yohanna, a Chaldean refugee aid worker.  “We have been telling the world that Christian women are targeted and being raped and sold as slaves, men and young children kidnapped, held for ransom, and threatened with decapitation and death to fund terrorism in the war torn Iraq.  They ignore us.  They fear this war will be labeled a religious war.  The terrorist group have already labeled this war a religious war.  All this because America acted before thinking.”  

While many considered the pleas of the peaceful Christian minority to be no different than the atrocities faced by their Muslim counterparts, new evidence says otherwise.   “Now there is a smoking gun that is proof that Christians have been systematically attacked for no other reason that being Christian,” adds Yohanna.

Iraqi police in Kirkuk have captured four members of a criminal enterprise who specialized in kidnapping Christian doctors.  Claims that the men have no link to terrorism or Islamic extremism are being challenged. 

According to reports, the men said they started kidnapping Christian doctors because to sharia (Islamic religious law), taking money from a Christian is legitimate and encouraged.

“The hatred fueled against non-Muslims is in itself Islamic extremism,” exclaims Yohanna.  “It is the hand of hatred guiding suffering Muslims to justify their terrorism against innocent people.”  

The terrorist group had a detailed list of Christian doctors and pharmacists.  The doctors and pharmacists primarily took care of the Muslim community.  A fact that many Christians are claiming is proof that fanaticism threatens both the growing government of Iraq and its people.  Yohanna perplexingly wonders, “If they are willing to torture and kill the very people that are working hard to help Iraq be healthy in the name of Islam, is this not fanatic?”

Doctors have long been a target in Iraq for terrorists and criminals. However, the acts were often considered random or attributed to some non-religious motive.  In the past week alone the director of Iraq’s top clinic for mental health problems was assassinated. Many Iraqi’s feel that terrorist elements are helping to destabilize the country by having it awash in crime whereby the citizens will demand peace, even at the cost if instilling Al Quaida like operatives. 

Yohanna agrees that the criminal element is a ploy for power, “This is the same strategy the terrorist used in Afghanistan.  The people begged for law and order and the same terrorist that created the chaos were happy to take over.  They simply stopped their killing and said it was because of us that we create peace.” 

Christians are targeted for their vulnerability due to what some consider being Islam’s natural indifference towards protecting non-Muslims. 

In another recent case, four specialized doctors were kidnapped and ransomed forcing the families to pay and then flee the country.  Many doctors, specialists and general practitioners have been leaving Iraq because of the danger to their lives. As a result, Iraq has been losing the medical specialists it needs and the intelligence to rebuild the country. 

The ripple effect is devastating.  Infant mortality rates are staggering and stifling an entire generation.  In major cities of Iraq there are virtually no gynecologists left leaving pregnant women in dire situations. 

The Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly III has been optimistic yet saddened by suffering of the Iraqi people.  The leader of the Chaldean Christian church says, "The security situation in Iraq is improving for everyone, including us Christians.”  To this statement Yohanna simply adds, “I guess that leaves people to only imagine how bad Iraq was.”
Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA


Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.