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Michigan, USA – Back in September 2008 Chaldean businessman Sal Yono received devastating news that his Pro-Hardware business on Davison near Dexter was burnt to the ground. The fire completely destroyed the 60 year old hardware store and left a dilapidated neighborhood in even worse condition.
Many of the Detroit residents relied on the business to purchase needed hardware supplies. “We don’t have much in the city and the hardware store was the only place we could get to fix up something in the house,” says customer Gary Harris. “He was an angel. If we didn’t have the money to buy some needed tools he would loan the tools to us for free. We were all upset when we heard the store burned to the ground.”
People in the neighborhood were shocked to learn Yono would rebuild as more and more residents and businesses were fleeing the city. Residents cheered when the hardware store re-opened with a million dollar investment by the owner. Many of the people who work at the hardware store can walk to work. The $1 million investment raised more than a few eyebrows in an area where abandoned and boarded up homes dot the landscape.
Chaldeans grip the cross bars as the roller coaster of their existence takes another steep and deadly plummet.
Baghdad, IRAQ – Yet another targeted religious execution of Iraqi Christians takes place in northern Iraq. An armed commando storms the neighborhood of al Saa, near the monastery of the Domincan fathers on a killing rampage killing 55 year old Chaldean businessman, Sabah Yacoub Gurgis. The well known entrepreneur owned an eyeglass factory, employing many Arabs and minorities in the city near the Tigris River.
Neighboring Christians are terrified that the killings will continue. The shooting is just the latest in a long trail of blood that has forced hundreds of Chaldean families to flee the city toward the plain of Nineveh or abroad. A spiral of violence that grew in the months preceding the parliamentary elections of March 7, so much so that Msgr. Emil Shimoun Nona, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, spoke of an "Endless Via Crucis".
Iraqi Christians continue to escape the country as killings and religious persecutions intensify. “The election and Easter season has given the crazy killers motivation to wipe out all the Christians in Iraq,” says Husam Ashaki, who barely managed to survive the rampage killing in the city. “We are all trying to figure out how we can leave. We are not even safe in north. They follow us here and are very thirsty for Christian blood. No mater if it is a man, woman, or child. They kill even small children and babies if they know they are Christian.”
California, USA - From his sixth floor executive office window, Sam Attisha has an unobstructed view of the action on the Padres home field at Petco Park, which, by the way, is 7,713 miles from where Attisha was born 42 years ago — in the fabled, now troubled, capital of Iraq, Baghdad.
Attisha is vice president of business development and external affairs for Cox Communications San Diego.
He was recently named one of San Diego’s Top Influentials by The Daily Transcript newspaper, a plaudit he appreciates, but had to laugh, “It still doesn’t get me much influence over my three boys and my wife.”
Attisha is a combination of outgoing (“You have to be in this job”) and laid-back (enjoying hanging out with his three young sons). He’s tall, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, with brown eyes, olive complexion, and a bald, neatly shaved head.
Baghdad, IRAQ – Iraqi Christians march in Mosul and Baghdad and hold prayer vigils in Kirkuk to draw attention to unending murders of minorities in Iraq. In recent weeks alone, minority men, women, and children have been abducted, killed, raped, harrased, and tortured. Those surviving have returned with ominous messages that Christians are no longer allowed to be in Iraq.
Mgr Emil Shimoun Nona of Mosul confirmed that hundreds of families have left Mosul in the last few days, about 600 in a community of some 4,000 people, according to a United Nations report. The prelate said, “about 400 families have escaped.”
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of Mosul led over 1,000 Iraqi Catholics in a silent protest on February 28 to demand that the government act to put a stop to violence against Christians there.
The United Nations estimated that 683 Christians fled Mosul between February 20 and February 27. Chaldean Catholic Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona of Mosul estimated that "about 400 families" had left the city's community of 4,000 Christians.
“The daily massacre suffered by the Christian community … is met with indifference from the authorities,” said Archbishop Casmoussa on the eve of the march. “We will be fasting and praying for peace and for the survival of Christians.”