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METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY VOL. 21 ISSUE V <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

‘ON THE JOB’<br />




Featuring:<br />

Mayor of Hamdaniya<br />

Going the Extra Mile<br />

Daggas to Tattoos


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Getting You Back to You<br />

it’s Why We Care.<br />

نعیدك الى ماكنت علیھ<br />

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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 3

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4 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

METRO DETROIT CHALDEAN COMMUNITY | <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> | VOL. 21 ISSUE V<br />


14 On the Job<br />

Meet Sterling Heights’ Chaldean officers<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />


18 High Stakes<br />

Legalized gambling leaves wake of needs<br />

By Paul Natinsky<br />

20 Moving the Needle<br />

June covers through the years<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

14<br />

22 From the Outside<br />

A uniquely close-knit community<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

24 Honoring History<br />

Birth of the Chaldean Cultural Center<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />


46 A Night of Culture<br />

Chaldean Story event<br />

By Cal Abbo<br />

6 From the Editor<br />

A Time of Growth<br />

By Sarah Kittle<br />

38 Culture & History<br />

Mayor of Hamdaniya (Arabic)<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

8 Foundation Update<br />

Athena Award Nomination,<br />

Balance & Breathe, M-SWELL<br />

42 Culture & History<br />

Daggas to Tattoos<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

10 Noteworthy<br />

Miles for Smiles<br />

12 Chaldean Digest<br />

LTU in Iraq, Genocide, Sheetz<br />

32 Culture & History<br />

Mayor of Hamdaniya<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

44 Culture & History<br />

Daggas to Tattoos (Arabic)<br />

By Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

48 Events<br />

CACC Awards Dinner, Palmer Park<br />

50 From the Archive<br />

Baba!<br />

10<br />

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 5



Chaldean News, LLC<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation<br />



Sarah Kittle<br />


Cal Abbo<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri<br />

Paul Natinsky<br />



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Story ideas: edit@chaldeannews.com<br />

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Subscription and all other inquiries:<br />

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Chaldean News<br />

30095 Northwestern Hwy, Suite 101<br />

Farmington Hills, MI 48334<br />

www.chaldeannews.com<br />

Phone: (248) 851-8600<br />

Publication: The Chaldean News (P-6);<br />

Published monthly; Issue Date: June <strong>2024</strong><br />

Subscriptions: 12 months, $35.<br />

Publication Address:<br />

30095 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 101,<br />

Farmington Hills, MI 48334;<br />

Permit to mail at periodicals postage rates<br />

is on file at Farmington Hills Post Office<br />

Postmaster: Send address changes to<br />

“The Chaldean News 30095 Northwestern<br />

Hwy., Suite 101, Farmington Hills, MI 48334”<br />

A Time of Growth<br />

Spring, with its gentle warmth and vibrant<br />

blooms, offers more than just a visual treat.<br />

It serves as a poignant metaphor for personal<br />

growth and renewal. Much like the earth awakening<br />

from its winter slumber, we can harness the<br />

energy of spring to embark on our own journeys of<br />

self-discovery and development.<br />

Our cover story this month focuses on six police<br />

officers of Chaldean heritage who serve in the<br />

Sterling Heights Police Department. Most of them<br />

were inspired to pursue law enforcement careers<br />

by witnessing good policing as a child. They<br />

chose to work for the Sterling Heights force because it has<br />

an excellent reputation, and Sterling Heights welcomed the<br />

recruits because the city has a large Chaldean population.<br />

These officers share an excellent example of individual career<br />

development.<br />

I love this season when nature demonstrates the power<br />

of resilience and transformation. Trees that once stood bare<br />

now burst forth with fresh green leaves, symbolizing the<br />

shedding of old, stagnant habits and the embrace of new<br />

beginnings. Similarly, personal growth often requires shedding<br />

limiting beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve us,<br />

making room for growth and expansion.<br />

Paul Natinsky’s article on gambling addiction includes<br />

Father John Jaddou’s private journey of growth and reflection,<br />

as he had a very personal experience with gambling<br />

as a teen. The needs and desires that drive us in our youth<br />

can create havoc in our adult lives; however, they can also<br />

inspire something greater, like Father John counseling youth<br />

about the dangers of addictive gambling or David Antone<br />

and some of his high school pals founding a charity to bring<br />

smiles to the faces of pediatric cancer patients.<br />

Hope springs eternal. The longer days and increased sunlight<br />

of spring can also inspire us to step out of our comfort<br />

zones and explore new possibilities. Just as flowers stretch<br />

towards the sun, reaching for nourishment and light, we can<br />

strive to reach our fullest potential by seeking out opportunities<br />

for learning and self-improvement.<br />

Dr. Tarek Sobh, president of Lawrence Technological<br />


EDITOR<br />

IN CHIEF<br />

University, sought out an opportunity to expand his<br />

school’s reach and partnered with The American<br />

University Iraq Baghdad (AUIB) to offer engineering<br />

courses. AUIB began as a dream of influential<br />

individuals in Iraq and United States involved in<br />

business, industry, and government who wanted<br />

a world-class institution of higher learning established<br />

in Baghdad, reminiscent of the days when<br />

the city was an educational and cultural mecca.<br />

The mayor of Hamdaniya in Iraq recently visited<br />

Michigan to attend the Chaldean American Chamber’s<br />

Annual Award Dinner, featured on our Events<br />

page. He spoke with CN staff and outlined his dreams and<br />

plans for the future of his city and his country.<br />

Spring encourages a sense of connection and community.<br />

As the natural world awakens, we are drawn outdoors<br />

to enjoy the beauty of blooming flowers and the chorus of<br />

birdsong. This reconnection with nature can foster a deeper<br />

sense of interconnectedness and remind us of our place<br />

within the larger tapestry of life.<br />

In that spirit, the CN’s Chaldean “Cultural Night” on May<br />

9 taught visitors to the Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

about the community, its history, and its customs. Historical<br />

music, song, and dance fed our souls, and fresh bread and<br />

cultural food fed our bellies as we embraced Chaldean culture<br />

and shared it freely with interested others. Guests had<br />

the opportunity to try on traditional Iraqi village garb and<br />

have their photo taken. It was a wonderful event, and just<br />

one stop on our journey to tell the Chaldean story.<br />

In essence, the spring season serves as a reminder that<br />

personal growth is an ongoing journey, much like the cycles<br />

of nature. By embracing the spirit of renewal and transformation<br />

that spring brings, we can cultivate resilience, embrace<br />

new possibilities, and foster a deeper connection between<br />

ourselves and the world around us.<br />

Sarah Kittle<br />

Editor in Chief<br />






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As the publication of record for<br />

Michigan’s Chaldean community,<br />

the mission of the Chaldean News<br />

is to preserve and archive Chaldean<br />

heritage and history, and to tell the<br />

ongoing story of Chaldean contributions to<br />

the communities in which we live and work – in<br />

Michigan and around the world.<br />

In the last 5 years the Chaldean News has<br />

substantially increased its readership and social<br />

media following, introduced new digital and website<br />

content and expanded storytelling and video offerings<br />

with the help of small grant funding.<br />

The Publisher’s Circle is a unique opportunity for community<br />

members to support the Chaldean News and its continuing<br />

mission to be a voice for the community, wherever they<br />

may be. With the warmhearted help of individual and<br />

organizational supporters we can ensure that this important<br />

resource remains to educate and connect the community<br />

while evolving to meet the needs of future generations.<br />

The Chaldean News has recently launched a CN app<br />

and will continue to expand into new media such<br />

as radio and TV, all with the goal of preserving our<br />

culture and telling the story of our people. You can<br />

take part in helping to preserve your Chaldean<br />

heritage by joining the Publisher’s Circle today.<br />

Jibran “Jim” Manna<br />

Martin and Tamara Manna<br />

We are grateful for the overwhelmingly<br />

generous support of our community.<br />

To learn more, visit chaldeannews.com<br />

or contact us at 248-851-8600<br />

Let’s grow the circle.<br />

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 7


Seeking Employment<br />

CCF team showing support for Stacy Bahri’s nomination for the Athena Leadership Award.<br />

On May 1, the Chaldean Community Foundation hosted the inaugural<br />

Spring Community Job Fair. With almost 30 employers<br />

in attendance and close to 150 eager job seekers, it was an event<br />

to remember.<br />

Job seekers had the opportunity to connect with hiring professionals<br />

from a variety of industries and even had in-person<br />

interviews on the spot.<br />

If you’re still on the hunt for employment, meet with CCF’s<br />

Career Services department during walk-in days every Monday,<br />

Tuesday, and Thursday to explore more opportunities and kickstart<br />

your career journey.<br />

CCF Staff Member Nominated<br />

for Athena Award<br />

CCF’s Strategic Initiatives Manager, Stacy Bahri, was nominated for the <strong>2024</strong> Athena International<br />

<strong>2024</strong> Leadership Award.<br />

Stacy’s journey started as a case worker, where she passionately advocated for her<br />

clients, helping them acculturate into American society. Today, she manages community<br />

outreach and strategic initiatives for the organization.<br />

The Athena Award has been offered by the Macomb Foundation since 1999 to transformative<br />

leaders, change-makers, and trailblazers for their excellence in leadership.<br />

Creating a Healthy Balance<br />

The CCF’s Balance and Breathe Program is now underway! The<br />

program is catered to older adults and caregivers, giving them<br />

the opportunity to learn chair yoga and Zumba exercises.<br />

The program is in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of<br />

North America’s Center on Holocaust Survivor Care Institute on<br />

Aging and Trauma.<br />

The program runs until September 6; For more information<br />

regarding the program, please contact the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation at 586-722-7253.<br />

CCF Strategic Initiatives Manager Stacy Bahri and M-SWELL team pose for a group photo.<br />

M-SWELL Visits CCF<br />

The Macomb Student/Staff Wellbeing, Emotional Learning Launch (M-SWELL) team had<br />

the opportunity to visit the Chaldean Community Foundation last month to get an overview<br />

of programming and resources available to the greater community.<br />

M-SWELL’s mission is to collaborate with 22 local districts and launch the Macomb<br />

County Suicide Free Schools and Mental Wellbeing Initiative.<br />

Representatives from Warren Consolidated School District, Utica Community Schools,<br />

Chippewa Valley Schools, and the Macomb Intermediate School District were in attendance.<br />

CCF thanks the group for their dedication towards youth mental health and looks forward<br />

to future collaboration.<br />

Balance and Breathe instructors teaching chair yoga exercises<br />

to those in attendance.<br />

8 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>



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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 9


Going the<br />

Extra Mile<br />

High school students co-found<br />

Miles for Smiles, a non-profit<br />

to aid kids with cancer<br />

What can a high school student<br />

do nowadays to stand<br />

out on their college application?<br />

One sure way to get noticed is to<br />

create a charity that does good work<br />

and makes a significant impact on the<br />

community.<br />

Enter Miles for Smiles, a nonprofit<br />


Miles for Smiles co-founders David Schmitt and David Antone<br />

dedicated to spreading smiles and creating<br />

unforgettable memories for children<br />

battling cancer. Select individuals<br />

get the chance to feel the rush of the<br />

racetrack, surrounded by supportive<br />

friends, family, and a community united<br />

in the fight against pediatric cancer.<br />

Dreamed up in the “vibrant halls”<br />

of Cranbrook Kingswood High School,<br />

the website describes “six spirited students”<br />

who “found themselves drawn<br />

together by a love for the rumble of engines<br />

and the thrill of speed.”<br />

The founding students are President<br />

David Schmitt, Steven Loiselle,<br />

David Antone, Sam Fisk, Joe Wiater,<br />

and Michael Aguilar.<br />

On May 19 at M-1 Concourse, Miles<br />

for Smiles hosted an event presented<br />

by sponsor KIDSGala that allowed pediatric<br />

cancer patients and their families<br />

to feel the adrenaline of riding in<br />

a high-performance race car on a controlled<br />

track with experienced drivers.<br />

“It felt very rewarding to be able to<br />

host wonderful families and children<br />

who are going through hard times,” said<br />

David Antone, “and to be able to put<br />

smiles on their faces was surreal for us.”<br />

Other activities included a magic<br />

show, face painting, ballon creations,<br />

photo booth and display cars. All designed<br />

to put a smile on kids’ faces.<br />

For information, contact<br />

david@miles4smiles.net.<br />

10 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 11


Turkish Parliament decries French National Assembly’s stance on Assyrians and Chaldeans, calling for historical<br />

accuracy and peaceful relations between the two countries.<br />

Turkish Parliament Condemns French Decision<br />

on Assyrians, Chaldeans<br />

Numan Kurtulmus, Speaker of the<br />

Turkish Parliament, sent a letter to<br />

Yael Braun-Pivet, President of the<br />

French National Assembly, condemning<br />

the decision to acknowledge the<br />

Assyrian and Chaldean Genocide by<br />

the Ottoman Empire adopted by the<br />

French National Assembly on April 29.<br />

In the letter, Kurtulmus said, “We<br />

deeply condemn the adoption of an Assyrian-Chaldean<br />

bill containing baseless<br />

allegations against Ottoman history<br />

in the French National Assembly<br />

on April 29, <strong>2024</strong>, at a time when we are<br />

trying to develop parliamentary relations<br />

with your country. This is a severe<br />

accusation that we do not deserve and<br />

does not align with historical facts. The<br />

repetition of unsubstantiated claims<br />

regarding the events of 1915 in the decision<br />

is also regrettable.”<br />

Kurtulmus stressed that national<br />

parliaments should focus on building<br />

bridges of peace and friendship between<br />

nations instead of fostering hostility.<br />

“Such decisions that distort historical<br />

facts or make arbitrary genocide allegations,<br />

despite the clear definition in<br />

international law, cast a shadow on the<br />

credibility of parliaments. Moreover,<br />

parliaments have neither a scientific<br />

nor a judicial role in writing history.”<br />

The letter went on to say, “The<br />

years of World War I are remembered<br />

in history as a period when all peoples<br />

of the Ottoman Empire were victims,<br />

regardless of religion or ethnic origin.<br />

The political exploitation of history<br />

and the selective, biased, and distorted<br />

interpretation of past grievances<br />

will only fuel extremist and populist<br />

politics with discrimination, religious<br />

hatred, and xenophobia. Encouraging<br />

reason and common sense in the face<br />

of hatred and enmity should be the primary<br />

duty of the political institution. I<br />

hope for the positive advancement of<br />

relations between our countries and<br />

wish you success in your efforts in this<br />

direction.”<br />

– turkiyenewspaper.com<br />

Madison Heights officials reject Sheetz gas station<br />

proposal during contentious meeting<br />

The Chaldean American Chamber of<br />

Commerce’s advocacy efforts paid off<br />

on May 14 when Madison Heights City<br />

Council rejected a request to open a<br />

Sheetz location in the city. Sheetz is<br />

an Altoona, Pennsylvania-based company<br />

that specializes in large-footprint<br />

gas station/convenience stores.<br />

Opposition to their opening came<br />

from residents who object to the 24-<br />

hour operation as well as business<br />

owners who feel the large chain would<br />

adversely affect their businesses. The<br />

CACC’s Sharkey Haddad participated<br />

in a letter writing campaign and helped<br />

organize protestors who attended the<br />

Madison Heights City Council meeting.<br />

Sheetz proposals had recently<br />

faced opposition or been rejected in<br />

Fraser, Rochester Hills, and Waterford.<br />

Attendees at the Madison Heights<br />

meeting held up red placards that<br />

said, “Stop Sheetz.”<br />

Community energy ran high,<br />

and applause rang out after several<br />

speeches against the proposal, one of<br />

which was made by Sharkey Haddad.<br />

Sharkey said, ““The Chaldean<br />

Chamber of Commerce has its eyes<br />

on the prize, we focus on supporting<br />

small businesses who are the backbone<br />

of every city, every state and nationally.”<br />

– Detroit Free Press<br />

LTU President<br />

and Iraqi Prime<br />

Minister meet<br />

to discuss<br />

engineering<br />

education<br />

The presence of tech, specifically Lawrence<br />

Technological University (LTU), is<br />

growing in Iraq. On a recent visit to the<br />

metro Detroit area, the Iraqi prime minister,<br />

Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani, had<br />

the opportunity to speak with LTU’s<br />

president Dr. Tarek Sobh about the university’s<br />

agreement with the American<br />

University in Baghdad (AUIB).<br />

“This pivotal encounter underscores<br />

Lawrence Technological University’s<br />

commitment to global education<br />

and transformative international<br />

partnerships,” Sobh said of the meeting.<br />

“We look forward to the economic<br />

contributions and knowledge impact<br />

this vibrant collaboration will bring.”<br />

LTU helped create a new College<br />

of Engineering at AUIB, supported in<br />

part by the U.S. Department of State.<br />

“This initiative will not only enhance<br />

academic and research opportunities<br />

but also set a global standard in engineering<br />

education and research,”<br />

Sobh said. “The prime minister has<br />

graciously extended the support of the<br />

Iraqi government for this transformative<br />

project, emphasizing the shared<br />

vision and commitment towards educational<br />

and research excellence.”<br />

Sobh also credited the Chaldean<br />

American Chamber of Commerce and<br />

its president, LTU Board of Trustees<br />

member Martin Manna, for their role<br />

in the AUIB collaboration, as well as<br />

the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in<br />

Washington, Iraqi ambassador to the<br />

United States Nazar Al Khirullah, the<br />

Iraqi Consulate General in Detroit, the<br />

Consul General of Iraq in Detroit Muhamad<br />

Hassan S. Muhamad, and the<br />

Prime Minister‘s Office, Republic of Iraq.<br />

– Techcentury.com<br />

12 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 13



On the Job<br />

Meet Sterling Heights’ Chaldean Police Officers<br />


Over the last few decades, Sterling<br />

Heights has become the<br />

capital of metro Detroit’s Chaldean<br />

community. According to data<br />

from the 2010s, around 25% of the<br />

population in Michigan’s fourth largest<br />

city, more than 30,000 people, is<br />

Chaldean or Iraqi. Almost certainly,<br />

that number is higher now.<br />

In general, the city is known for<br />

its diverse population and immigrant<br />

communities. The Sterling Heights<br />

Police Department (SHPD) is a large<br />

part of the city’s success. Over several<br />

years, the department has hired a few<br />

Chaldean officers so they can connect<br />

with and better understand such a<br />

large portion of their community. Here<br />

are vignettes of six Chaldean police officers<br />

that work with the SHPD.<br />

Police Officer Danny Delly<br />

Delly was born in Michigan, and his<br />

parents made sure to teach him and<br />

his siblings both English and Sureth.<br />

He’s wanted to work with the police<br />

since he was around five years old.<br />

One of his neighbors was an officer<br />

for Madison Heights and inspired him<br />

from a young age. The same neighbor<br />

pinned his badge at his police academy<br />

graduation ceremony.<br />

After graduating high school in<br />

2016, Delly obtained his associate degree<br />

in criminal justice from Macomb<br />

Community College. He graduated<br />

from the Macomb police academy in<br />

2019 and worked as an officer in Dearborn<br />

Heights for five years until coming<br />

to Sterling Heights, where he heard<br />

great things about the department and<br />

the opportunities available. “Protecting<br />

and serving in the community that I<br />

grew up in means a lot to me,” he said.<br />

Delly enjoys solving crimes, helping<br />

people on their worst day, and protecting<br />

others from criminals. He plans<br />

to become a part of the Crime Suppression<br />

Unit as well as Traffic. Eventually,<br />

he wants to become a road Sergeant<br />

and then a Lieutenant.<br />

POLICE continued on page 16<br />

14 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 15

Sergeant-Training Coordinator<br />

Jassin Hakim<br />

Hakim was born in Grosse Pointe<br />

Farms. He grew up watching the TV<br />

show “CHiPs”, a crime drama series<br />

that follows the lives of two motorcycle<br />

officers in the California Highway<br />

Patrol. He admired the two main<br />

characters, Ponch and John, for their<br />

dedication to helping others and apprehending<br />

criminals. “My admiration<br />

for their work left me with a clear<br />

conviction that I would pursue a career<br />

as a police officer when I grew<br />

up,” he said.<br />

Two mentors helped Hakim along<br />

the way. His father taught him to value<br />

kindness and generosity while his<br />

Uncle Bassam, a former member of the<br />

military who became a police officer,<br />

guided him through his own journey<br />

and mentored him during his career.<br />

Hakim started out as a military<br />

policeman, which gave him the skills<br />

required for his later career in law<br />

enforcement. He grew up in Sterling<br />

Heights and loves that he can serve<br />

and protect the community he calls<br />

home. Hakim plans to advance further<br />

within the department and in<br />

his career as an officer. Eventually he<br />

wants to play a role in shaping the direction<br />

of the SHPD.<br />

“I love helping people, whether<br />

it’s aiding an elderly individual or offering<br />

support to a victim of a crime,”<br />

he said. “One of the challenges of<br />

being an officer, however, is bearing<br />

witness to the darker aspects of humanity.”<br />

Police Officer Esho Matty<br />

Matty was born in Iraq, went to Turkey<br />

in 2010, and came to Michigan<br />

two years later. His parents did not<br />

speak English, and now Matty is trilingual,<br />

speaking Arabic, Chaldean,<br />

and English.<br />

He’s always wanted to become a<br />

police officer because he enjoys helping<br />

people, especially those who feel<br />

helpless. Matty graduated from high<br />

school in 2016 and worked full-time at<br />

Penn Station making sandwiches. He<br />

received his associate’s degree from<br />

Macomb Community College in 2019<br />

and finished the police academy the<br />

next year.<br />

After policing for three years in<br />

Grosse Pointe Park, Matty joined the<br />

SHPD at the end of last year because<br />

he heard great things about it and<br />

saw how many different departments<br />

he could join. Finally, he was policing<br />

the city in which he grew up.<br />

In the future, Matty wants to be a<br />

part of the narcotics bureau and promoted<br />

to Sergeant.<br />

Sergeant of the Directed Patrol<br />

Unit Lamar Kashat<br />

Kashat was born in Royal Oak and<br />

grew up in Saginaw. His parents immigrated<br />

to the U.S. in the 1970s. He<br />

grew up surrounded by police officers,<br />

witnessing their professionalism and<br />

how they always helped others. Their<br />

dedication, integrity, and commitment<br />

to the community inspired him to pursue<br />

a career in law enforcement.<br />

In addition, Kashat noticed Chaldeans<br />

were underrepresented in law<br />

enforcement and wanted to change<br />

that. As he grew up, he watched his<br />

parents build a business from the<br />

ground up. “Seeing their determination,<br />

resilience, and unwavering dedication<br />

taught me invaluable lessons<br />

about hard work, perseverance, and<br />

the rewards of turning dreams into<br />

reality,” Kashat said.<br />

Kashat attended Delta Community<br />

College and later earned a bachelor’s<br />

degree in criminal justice from Saginaw<br />

Valley State University. In 2007,<br />

he graduated from the police academy,<br />

fulfilling his dream.<br />

After his family and friends encouraged<br />

him to apply to the SHPD,<br />

Kashat looked into it and liked what<br />

he saw. “I’ve long aspired to join a<br />

forward-thinking agency that offered<br />

opportunities for advancement,” he<br />

said. “Moreover, the department’s diverse<br />

range of law enforcement areas<br />

presented an enticing opportunity<br />

for professional growth and development.”<br />

Kashat enjoys helping and serving<br />

the community as part of being a police<br />

officer. He loves the camaraderie<br />

he has with his fellow officers and the<br />

fact that his days are never boring and<br />

are never the same.<br />

He likes all the roles he gets to<br />

play as an officer, including mentor,<br />

counselor, and advisor. In the future,<br />

Kashat aims to develop the units he’s<br />

involved in and cultivate the future<br />

leaders of our agency. “I’m committed<br />

to advancing our agency’s progress<br />

and maintaining its forward momentum,”<br />

he said. “My ultimate goal is to<br />

eventually lead this police agency.”<br />

Police Officer Natan Bittou<br />

Bittou was born in Baghdad and came<br />

to the United States in 2007. When he<br />

left his hometown, he was worried he<br />

would never get to experience his culture<br />

to the same extent ever again. “I<br />

was wrong,” he said. “I lived in Sterling<br />

Heights as soon as I arrived and<br />

felt like I was home again. I learned<br />

that our Chaldean culture will always<br />

adapt and remain strong no matter<br />

where we’re located.”<br />

Bittou’s family has an extensive<br />

military background which informed<br />

his decision to become a police officer.<br />

He attended Macomb Community<br />

College and Madonna University<br />

while working a full-time job. Just as<br />

well, for Bittou, the police academy<br />

was physically and mentally challenging,<br />

but he never considered another<br />

path.<br />

“I always wanted to join the SHPD<br />

since I was in college because I grew<br />

up in Sterling Heights,” he said. “I<br />

went to school here and my entire<br />

family lives in the city. SHPD is known<br />

to be the best department in the State<br />

of Michigan and I am honored to be a<br />

part of it.”<br />

To fulfill his role as a police officer,<br />

Bittou tries to involve himself in the<br />

community by attending events and<br />

conducting follow ups after his police<br />

calls. He’s highly proactive during his<br />

shifts and frequently makes arrests. In<br />

the future, Bittou wants to be promoted<br />

and serve in a special unit in the SHPD.<br />

Detective Edwar Talia<br />

Talia was born in Baghdad and immigrated<br />

to America with his family in<br />

1995. His main contact was his aunt,<br />

who sponsored his family. “I saw my<br />

aunt had a few businesses that were<br />

thriving, and her family was doing<br />

great,” he said. “One of her sons told<br />

me that you can achieve anything in<br />

America as long as you are driven, motivated,<br />

and determined to succeed no<br />

matter the obstacles.”<br />

When he lived in Iraq, Talia’s<br />

grandmother took him to church every<br />

Sunday. On the way home, they would<br />

stop by the local police department<br />

behind her house. These interactions<br />

had a huge influence on Talia and<br />

helped him decide to become a police<br />

officer later in life.<br />

“I love helping people, whether it’s aiding an elderly individual<br />

or offering support to a victim of a crime. One of the challenges<br />

of being an officer, however, is bearing witness to the darker<br />

aspects of humanity.” – Jassin Hakim<br />

Talia started college hoping to become<br />

an architect, but he changed his<br />

mind after concluding it would be a<br />

boring career. He obtained an associate<br />

degree and then attended the police<br />

academy. “It was difficult to get a job as<br />

a police officer in 2013, but I landed a<br />

part time position with the Highland<br />

Park Police Department in 2015.”<br />

After a while, Talia’s goal became<br />

to work for SHPD. He wondered what<br />

made the department the best in the<br />

state, and eventually found his answer.<br />

The SHPD offers growth and<br />

development, different bureaus and<br />

units, and citizens love the police department.<br />

Talia also loves helping and protecting<br />

people. His favorite experience<br />

on the job occurred when he was training<br />

Officer Natan Bittou. “We were<br />

dispatched to an address that we had<br />

been to earlier in the day on a family<br />

dispute,” he said. “We looked through<br />

the windows and saw someone lying<br />

on the couch unresponsive. We entered<br />

the house, began CPR, and ultimately<br />

saved her life.”<br />

In the future, Talia wants to get<br />

promoted to Sergeant, then Lieutenant,<br />

and finally Captain.<br />

16 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 17


High Stakes<br />

Legalized gambling leaves wake of addiction treatment needs<br />


In 2018, newly legalized sports gambling exploded<br />

across the country. With 34 states legalizing<br />

wagering on athletic contests, companies such<br />

as DraftKings and FanDuel swooped in with easyto-use<br />

apps, glitzy ads and magnetic celebrity endorsements.<br />

Tie-ins with professional sports teams,<br />

leagues, and networks helped further move sports<br />

betting out of the shady world of bookies and loan<br />

sharks and onto a bright playground of easy winnings,<br />

fun gimmick bets, and enticing incentives.<br />

Ease-of-use enhancements accompanied the<br />

image makeover. No longer did a bettor have to get<br />

dressed and head to a shady bar to put a dime on the<br />

Lions. Getting down on a game is now as simple as a<br />

click on a smartphone. You can even make bets on a<br />

game during the game.<br />

With stigma evaporated and betting made virtual,<br />

the numbers are what you’d expect them to<br />

be—way up. The sports betting industry in the United<br />

States posted a record $10.92 billion in revenue<br />

in 2023, a 44.5% increase from 2022, which also set<br />

a record, according to an ESPN report. In Michigan,<br />

where sports betting has been legal since 2020, the<br />

numbers reflect the national boom.<br />

When all forms of legalized gambling are considered,<br />

the Great Lakes State ranks in the top 10, racking<br />

up $1.92 billion in gross receipts for all forms of<br />

legal gambling and a No. 1 ranking from online gaming<br />

alone. This windfall netted the state more than<br />

$300 million in tax revenue last year.<br />

This spike in online gambling, particularly in a<br />

state that runs several lotteries and hosts casinos<br />

throughout its borders, has created greatly increased<br />

opportunities for those who are susceptible<br />

to develop destructive gambling addictions.<br />

“In the first year since the legalization<br />

of sports betting and online gambling<br />

in Michigan, more than 4,400 calls were<br />

made to Michigan’s problem gambling<br />

helpline in 2021. This is nearly triple the<br />

number of calls received in 2020, the<br />

year before online gambling was approved,”<br />

reported the Michigan Department<br />

of Health and Human Services one<br />

year after online gambling became legal<br />

in the state. “Referrals for people to receive<br />

gambling treatment also grew significantly,<br />

from 295 referrals in 2020 to<br />

420 referrals last year, a 42% increase,”<br />

the agency reported.<br />

MDHHS further reported, “While social<br />

gambling isn’t a problem for most,<br />

for some it provides a sense of control and escape<br />

which, over time, can affect other areas of life. For<br />

youth, this risk is especially concerning with the rise<br />

of online gaming and virtual connection during the<br />

COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of problem gambling<br />

among high school students is twice that of adults,<br />

and someone gambling by age 12 will be four times<br />

more likely to develop a gambling addiction. Additionally,<br />

more than two years into a global pandemic,<br />

the impact of social distancing has left many with<br />

idle time, frustrations and anxiety.”<br />

Fr. John Jaddou’s experience is reflective of the<br />

pulls and perils of gambling addiction, especially<br />

among young people. He annually delivers a homily<br />

about gambling on Super Bowl Sunday, urging those<br />

who play to ensure that it is nothing more than a fun<br />

diversion. He also tries to bring the message of caution<br />

to Chaldean youth groups across the Metro<br />

Detroit area once a year.<br />

Gambling, per se, is not a sin, said Jaddou.<br />

It is the disconnection, the retreat<br />

from life’s important events and sense<br />

of community, that is dangerous.<br />

Jaddou would like to see gambling<br />

issues addressed more frequently and<br />

help to extend help beyond individuals<br />

to groups. Regarding present help<br />

available through the Church, he<br />

cites The Parable of the Prodigal<br />

Son, maintaining that the<br />

Church is there to listen and help when the parishioner<br />

is ready to face a gambling problem directly.<br />

Part of Jaddou’s passion about youths and gambling<br />

troubles stems from a chapter long in his past.<br />

From the time he was 15 until a crisis at 17, Jaddou,<br />

who is now 35, gambled on sports. He bet daily on<br />

NBA games, dispensed gambling advice and had a<br />

bookie. Betting on sports was part of the high school<br />

culture in which he and his friends were immersed.<br />

Jaddou’s moment of crisis came when he got in<br />

over his head and stole $300 from his father to pay<br />

a bookie who threatened to beat him up. Deeply<br />

ashamed, Jaddou never gambled again.<br />

He says the uncertain economy, along with aggressive<br />

sports gambling promotions, have increased<br />

problem gambling in his congregation. He says he’s<br />

hearing more confessions about gambling addictions<br />

lately and that there are not nearly enough<br />

resources available to address this trend<br />

within the Church and the broader community.<br />

A 2020 survey revealed that drug<br />

and alcohol addiction is about 7 times<br />

more likely to occur than gambling addiction;<br />

but government expenditure<br />

to treat gambling addictions is 338<br />

times less than that appropriated for<br />

substance abuse treatment.<br />

When it comes to the timeliness of<br />

addressing gambling’s downside, it<br />

seems numbers don’t lie.<br />

Fr. John Jaddou<br />

gives a talk at a<br />

high school on the<br />

rise of gambling<br />

and online betting.<br />

18 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 19

Moving the Needle<br />


“<br />

The more things change, the<br />

more they stay the same.”<br />

This quote attributed to<br />

French writer Jean Baptiste Alphonse<br />

Karr in 1849 still holds true 175 years<br />

later. As we look back on the span of<br />

stories gracing the Chaldean News<br />

covers in the month of June, many of<br />

these topics are still at the forefront of<br />

discussion in the community.<br />

Take the 2004 cover, “Rebuilding<br />

a Homeland.” The US Army was still<br />

ensconced in Iraq at this time, and its<br />

leaders were struggling to outline the<br />

country’s future for its citizens. Two decades<br />

later, the country is still trying to<br />

rebuild.<br />

The next four covers (2005-2008)<br />

feel like déjà vu as well. 2005’s cover<br />

story “Deadly Detroit” was about the<br />

large numbers of Chaldeans dying for<br />

the American Dream—getting shot and<br />

killed in their place of business. The dire<br />

situation would lead to the formation<br />

of the Waad Murad Fund, a reward system<br />

created by the Chaldean American<br />

Chamber of Commerce (CACC) for information<br />

that leads to the arrest and conviction<br />

of the perpetrators of these heinous<br />

crimes. Over 100 individuals in the<br />

community have been killed while simply<br />

trying to provide for their families.<br />

2006’s cover, “The Iraq Condition,”<br />

featured a story about what would<br />

happen in Iraq after the US pulled out<br />

(hint: a whole lot, and also nothing).<br />

2007 had the CN singing the “House<br />

Sale Blues,” about the weak housing<br />

market in metro Detroit, and 2008<br />

asked the question, “Who Are We?”<br />

That was the year that the CACC engaged<br />

Walsh College and United Way to<br />

conduct a survey on the Chaldean population<br />

in southeast Michigan. They<br />

had historically been undercounted in<br />

national surveys, and the leaders of the<br />

community, including Michael George,<br />

wanted to make sure that Chaldeans<br />

were being seen and counted.<br />

The survey results showed that<br />

the Chaldean population was younger<br />

than the general population, that their<br />

median income was higher than average,<br />

and that 61% of the adult population<br />

owned at least one business. The<br />

CACC engaged Walsh College to send<br />

out a survey again in 2023; the results<br />

show more of the same.<br />

In 2009, our cover featured some<br />

good sports from the Chaldean Church<br />

Volleyball League and Mother of God<br />

Church. In 2010, we issued a special<br />

Father’s Day edition titled, “Baba<br />

Knows Best,” and in 2011, we asked<br />

“Where are they now?” about previous<br />

newsmakers Carey Denha (Mega 80s),<br />

Joey Nibras (“The Wacky Iraqi”), Jason<br />

Antone (JROCK), Josephine Dabish<br />

Fermanian (Germs Begone and Detroit<br />

Organics), and Ken and Virginia (Yatooma)<br />

Kroiczyk (Gotbibs.com).<br />

Our 2012 cover featured the 7th Annual<br />

Chaldean Festival and 2013 gave<br />

advice on keeping kids active during<br />

the summer break.<br />

On the cover ten years ago was<br />

Mar Francis! Father Frank, as he was<br />

known then, became Bishop Francis<br />

Kallabat in 2014. How does he look<br />

younger now than he did then?<br />

In 2015, Katie Atto experienced a<br />

7.8 magnitude earthquake while climbing<br />

Mount Everest. Her story, “The Adventure<br />

of a Lifetime,” dovetails nicely<br />

into the 2016 cover story, “A Lasting<br />

Legacy,” about John Loussia, who had<br />

climbed Mount Kilimanjaro sporting<br />

his blue boxers in support of prostate<br />

cancer awareness.<br />

We were “Sprucing it up” in 2017<br />

and offered tips on home improvement<br />

from experts in the community.<br />

In 2018, there was “New Hope” with<br />

democratic elections taking place in<br />

Iraq and changes in immigration laws.<br />

In 2019, we celebrated some talented<br />

teens, including Michael Jonna,<br />

creator of the Ruru app, Michael Najor,<br />

a piano prodigy, and aspiring writer<br />

Maryam Ramzi.<br />

In 2020, we covered the “Class of<br />

COVID 19” and wrote about the year<br />

without a commencement. We had<br />

teamed up with the Chaldean Chamber<br />

and Foundation to host a virtual graduation<br />

ceremony. It was a tough year for<br />

everyone, but especially difficult for a<br />

community that likes to gather in large<br />

groups to celebrate. We definitely saw<br />

some outdoor Zaffa playing!<br />

We celebrated the graduates again<br />

in 2021. That year’s cover featured<br />

Adriana Mansour, who had suffered<br />

a great tragedy and physical impairment,<br />

but succeeded against all odds<br />

to graduate with her class.<br />

In 2022, we honored our fathers –<br />

not just our family patriarchs, but our<br />

Church patriarchs as well.<br />

And last year, we covered Chaldean<br />

Town’s “Last Man Standing,” about<br />

the holdout S&J Meats, who have been<br />

threatening to close their doors for<br />

decades but are still in operation on 7<br />

Mile in Detroit.<br />

We hope you have enjoyed these<br />

stories over the years!<br />

20 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 21



Detroit City Council member Coleman A. Young<br />

II gave the Chaldean Chamber a Spirit of Detroit<br />

Award at their Business Luncheon in October 2023.<br />

Industry Outlook panelists (from left) Saber Ammori, Rachel Stewart and Jordan Jonna share a laugh<br />

before the event on February 15, <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

From the Outside<br />

Chaldean Americans are a uniquely<br />

close-knit community<br />


In the vast landscape of America’s cultural mosaic,<br />

the Chaldean community stands out not only for its<br />

rich heritage but also for its remarkable closeness.<br />

Nestled within the broader spectrum of Iraqi Americans,<br />

which include Assyrians and Syriacs, Chaldean<br />

Americans have cultivated a distinct identity characterized<br />

by a deep sense of unity and familial ties.<br />

When I first interviewed for a position with the<br />

Chaldean American Chamber, I was asked what I knew<br />

about Chaldeans. Being closely associated with an<br />

amateur historian, I knew Chaldeans were Catholic,<br />

came from Iraq, and spoke a form of Aramaic. That was<br />

enough, and more than most people outside the community<br />

knew. But there was so much more to learn.<br />

As a Roman Catholic, I was familiar with the liturgy<br />

and core beliefs. I saw the Board of Directors hold<br />

hands and say the Lord’s Prayer together before and<br />

at the conclusion of each meeting, and it struck me<br />

that this community was unique.<br />

Proud of its rich cultural heritage which spans<br />

back to Babylonian times, Chaldeans are a special<br />

group. They have fought for their faith and their right<br />

to exist almost from their inception.<br />

In the first week of my employment with the<br />

Chamber, I attended (well, basically ran) an orientation<br />

presentation that taught new members a little<br />

bit about the Chaldean community, its history, and<br />

values. For instance, Chaldeans claim ancestry from<br />

Abraham, the “father of many” in the Bible, who was<br />

from Ur, and King Nebuchadnezzar, who built the<br />

Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 600 BC.<br />

A faith-oriented community who mostly resides<br />

within 10 miles of their parish, a Catholic Church of<br />

the Eastern Rite, united with Rome under the Pope but<br />

with their own Patriarch, currently in Iraq, Chaldeans<br />

are a singular people. Church is what separates Chaldeans<br />

from Assyrians and Syriacs, who have their own<br />

churches, although they all share the same roots.<br />

There are an estimated 2 million Chaldeans/<br />

Assyrians/Syriacs throughout the world, with approximately<br />

one half million residing in the United<br />

States—nearly 200,000 in Michigan alone.<br />

Bustling Businesspeople<br />

Known for their extraordinary skill in starting and<br />

running businesses, finding new niches before they<br />

become trends, and inventing new ways of doing<br />

things, Chaldeans have certainly affected the economy<br />

wherever they live.<br />

When they first came to Detroit, following their Lebanese<br />

predecessors, they did what they knew. As farmers<br />

and merchants, they recognized the need for markets<br />

in the city even as others were moving out. At the<br />

Chaldean Chamber’s 2023 Business Luncheon, Detroit<br />


City Councilman Coleman A. Young II recognized the<br />

great part that Chaldean gas station and convenience<br />

store owners played in the survival of the city. They<br />

stayed when everyone else packed their bags and left.<br />

Since cornering the market on the corner market,<br />

Chaldean investors have branched out to other industries,<br />

fulfilling various needs that they identified.<br />

Some of the biggest success stories of the community<br />

came from necessity.<br />

For instance, Saad Abbo, who founded the company<br />

US Ice, did so under pressure from his father<br />

to be a good ice supplier, one who didn’t make his<br />

clients wait or ignore them in favor of other clients.<br />

He suggested an ice supply company for his son because<br />

he was struggling to keep ice in his store. Saad<br />

recently sold US Ice for tens of millions. That’s one<br />

person who is glad he listened to his dad!<br />

Another example of identifying and fulfilling a<br />

necessity is the late John Loussia. John left a legacy<br />

for his children in many ways but one which stands<br />

out is the ownership of Value Wholesale Distributors.<br />

John saw all these small grocers in Detroit who struggled<br />

to keep fresh food in their stores and thought<br />

there must be a way to help them. So, he created a<br />

local wholesale grocery distributor and supplied not<br />

only Chaldean stores but any store in the area with<br />

fresh products at reasonable prices. That’s why they<br />

are still around today, and bigger than ever.<br />

Faith, Food & Family<br />

I was told Chaldean philosophy is centered on three<br />

things: faith, food, and family.<br />

Faith is certainly the cornerstone of the community.<br />

One must only witness the high regard that not<br />

only the congregation, but the entire population has<br />

for the Church to see that its leaders are some of the<br />

most respected members of the Chaldean community<br />

here in America.<br />

The clergy serves as a spiritual guidepost for the<br />

community, offering counseling on all topics from<br />

marriage to vocations to recovering from child abuse.<br />

The Chaldean Catholic Diocese in the United States is<br />

a powerful organization, one which lives in today’s<br />

world and addresses today’s problems. Forums on<br />

gambling, internet addiction, and marijuana have<br />

been conducted by clergy, seeking to meet the congregation<br />

where they are.<br />

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Respect for elders is another trait<br />

that is highly visible within the community.<br />

“Rabbi” is a term of endearment<br />

for a teacher, one I’ve heard often<br />

in the offices of the Chaldean News<br />

and Chaldean American Chamber. The<br />

closeness of the generations is lovely<br />

to behold, and many children grow up<br />

with both sets of grandparents being a<br />

big part of their lives.<br />

As I worked closely with and grew<br />

closer to individual Chaldeans, I began<br />

to see food preparation as an act<br />

of love. The time and patience required<br />

to cook and serve meals is no joke!<br />

Chaldeans offer strangers food, too,<br />

as a sign of respect and welcome. I have<br />

eaten my way through Iraqi Salad, Biryani,<br />

Dolma, Kufta, Amba, and Kleicha,<br />

warming up to the solid nutrition and<br />

the care packaged in each bite.<br />

As an “honorary Chaldean,” I<br />

am sometimes overwhelmed by the<br />

love and support lavished on me as a<br />

Chamber staff member and editor of<br />

this fine magazine. One of the things<br />

I love most about the community is<br />

the ability to laugh, even sometimes at<br />

your own expense.<br />

Laughter, I believe, is one of God’s<br />

gifts to His children. Martin Luther<br />

King Jr. said, “It is cheerful to God<br />


STORY<br />

when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom<br />

of your heart,” and Khalil Gibran<br />

is credited as saying, “In the sweetness<br />

of friendship let there be laughter and<br />

sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of<br />

little things the heart finds its morning<br />

and is refreshed.”<br />

It is the simple things — faith, family,<br />

comradery, laughter, home-cooked<br />

meals — that make this community<br />

special.<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

With their strong family ties and<br />

their entrepreneurial spirit, the Chaldean<br />

American community is a vibrant<br />

and dynamic force that continues<br />

to thrive and prosper in the United<br />

States. The Iraqi Prime Minister visited<br />

just this past April and was mightily<br />

impressed. He took back to Iraq a desire<br />

to replicate the community’s success<br />

in their homeland.<br />

From the busy streets of Detroit to<br />

the laid-back neighborhoods of San<br />

Diego, the connections binding Chaldean<br />

American families and individuals<br />

resemble the roots of a sprawling,<br />

ancient tree. Within this rooted network<br />

lies a narrative of shared history,<br />

cherished cultural customs, and steadfast<br />

solidarity, showcasing the unique<br />

and distinctive spirit of the Chaldean<br />

American community.<br />

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 23


CCC Board members gave a special tour before the museum opened to the public. Pictured left to right: Judy Jonna, Francis Boji, Hani Mio, Bishop Ibrahim, Raad<br />

Kathawa, Bishop Francis, Mary Romaya, Hanna Shina, and Victor Saroki.<br />

Honoring History<br />

Birth of the Chaldean Cultural Center<br />


When Chaldeans first came<br />

to Detroit, they struggled to<br />

integrate into American society<br />

and learn the language. They had<br />

their own unique culture, one that was<br />

different from that of other Americans<br />

and most immigrants.<br />

At first, this was a point of pride for<br />

Chaldeans. Their faith, family values,<br />

tight-knit community, and work ethic<br />

ultimately led to success in a foreign<br />

land. Chaldeans raised their families<br />

in the same traditions that they came<br />

from and passed down their culture<br />

successfully.<br />

At the same time, the children of<br />

the original immigrants were forced to<br />

acculturate to some extent. There were<br />

no Chaldean schools in Detroit at the<br />

time. Chaldean children often attended<br />

Roman Catholic or public schools.<br />

They learned English as their native<br />

language and began to Americanize in<br />

order to live, work, and play in a modern<br />

and diverse world.<br />

As time passed, fewer Chaldeans<br />

came from the homeland. Yet more<br />

were born in the United States, some<br />

even representing the second generation<br />

of American-born Chaldeans,<br />

many of whom don’t speak Sureth.<br />

This new perspective and way of life<br />

led to a concern that Chaldeans would<br />

lose their culture. Thus was born the<br />

urge for Detroit’s Chaldean population<br />

to preserve their culture and the idea<br />

for Chaldean Cultural Center (CCC).<br />

Mary Romaya is one of the CCC’s<br />

founders, and she served as its executive<br />

director for six years until her<br />

retirement in 2017. Ever since, she’s<br />

kept the organization on track when<br />

it needs her and assisted in the CCC’s<br />

move to the new Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation’s West Campus that is currently<br />

under construction.<br />

According to Romaya, the idea for<br />

the CCC was conceived around 2003<br />

in the famed and nostalgic rooms of<br />

Southfield Manor. “When I started<br />

with the CCC, I was the secretary and<br />

a founding board member,” she said.<br />

In March of 2003, the concept was<br />

there, a full two years before Shenandoah<br />

Country Club was purchased and<br />

opened.<br />

Shenandoah Country Club was<br />

purchased by the Chaldean Iraqi<br />

American Association of Michigan<br />

(CIAAM), a social organization that<br />

also ran Southfield Manor. As it was<br />

being renovated, CIAAM designed<br />

the club so that the CCC would have<br />

around 2,000 sq. feet of space for cultural<br />

programming and, eventually, a<br />

museum.<br />

“We were just a fledgling group,”<br />

Romaya said about the CCC. “We had<br />

no money. So we were not in a position<br />

to buy a building or rent a space. We<br />

knew we needed to preserve our heritage.<br />

By 2003, the Chaldeans had been<br />

here for more than a century.”<br />

According to stories Romaya heard<br />

from her own father, Chaldeans were<br />

discussing how to maintain and preserve<br />

their identity as early as the<br />

1920s. “They certainly didn’t want to<br />

lose the faith or the language,” she<br />

said about discussions her father had<br />

with other Chaldean pioneers.<br />

Her parents’ generation feared that<br />

their children who were born in America<br />

or brought here at a young age would<br />

become assimilated and integrated into<br />

American society and lose their unique<br />

Chaldean identity. As the generations<br />

CCC continued on page 26<br />

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CCC continued from page 24<br />

became more Americanized, they<br />

would speak more English and eventually<br />

forget Sureth. For that reason, Romaya’s<br />

parents spoke Sureth to her. “I<br />

understand the language, but I would<br />

answer in English,” she said.<br />

There were no Chaldean schools<br />

back then. Most children went to Roman<br />

Catholic schools in the archdiocese<br />

of Detroit. Chaldeans are known<br />

for making up large portions of metro<br />

Detroit’s Catholic schools as well as<br />

funding them generously. Just last<br />

year, John, Jeff, and Chris Denha gave<br />

a generous donation of $500,000 to<br />

Brother Rice, a high school the brothers<br />

attended in the 1980s. They gave in<br />

honor of their parents, Nedal and Mike<br />

Denha. Today, nearly 30% of Marian<br />

High School’s students are Chaldean.<br />

These are only two recent examples of<br />

the impact Chaldeans have on Catholic<br />

schools in the metro Detroit area.<br />

The Chaldean pioneers were happy<br />

to live and raise their families in<br />

America, away from the hardship and<br />

persecution that plagued them in the<br />

Middle East. They didn’t, however,<br />

want to lose the tight-knit community<br />

that went along with the ethnic group.<br />

Romaya identifies as Chaldean-<br />

American. She desperately wanted her<br />

community to stay intact because she<br />

valued the rich, meaningful life it gave<br />

her. To that end, she and others created<br />

youth groups, which she attended<br />

throughout her 20s and early 30s, designed<br />

to intentionally stay together<br />

and maintain the community they were<br />

blessed with. “They encouraged us to<br />

marry within the community and socialize<br />

with other Chaldeans,” Romaya<br />

said about the generation of Chaldean<br />

pioneers. “If we didn’t, they hoped we<br />

would still marry a Catholic.”<br />

Until the birth of the CCC, most of<br />

the work Chaldeans did to preserve<br />

their culture, aside from attending<br />

and expanding the Church, revolved<br />

around creating social groups and<br />

gathering places. There were few, if<br />

any, organized efforts to archive cultural<br />

items and revive what had been<br />

lost for families who arrived in Michigan<br />

decades ago.<br />

As the CCC grew comfortable in its<br />

new space at Shenandoah, the board<br />

began planning programs to accomplish<br />

its goal. “The CCC celebrates and<br />

explores the extraordinary history,<br />

arts, traditions, and contributions of<br />

the Chaldean people from ancient<br />

times to the present, serving as a repository<br />

for our collected history and<br />

stories…” the mission statement reads.<br />

The CCC had a board of directors<br />

chaired by the late Rosemary Anton.<br />

The first executive director was Josephine<br />

Sarafa, a bilingual teacher<br />

in Birmingham Public Schools for 27<br />

years. Her pilot program was one of<br />

community outreach and cultural sensitivity<br />

training.<br />

Sarafa first contacted different police<br />

departments and their leaders to<br />

teach them about the Chaldean community.<br />

When a Chaldean person was<br />

pulled over, for example, there was often<br />

a language barrier between the officer<br />

and the driver. Other times, when<br />

someone got in trouble, they would<br />

send their father or a community leader<br />

to speak with the police.<br />

In addition, Sarafa approached<br />

school principals, superintendents,<br />

and teachers to visit the CCC and learn<br />

about the Chaldean culture so they<br />

can better accommodate their students.<br />

Previously, few efforts had been<br />

made to explain who the Chaldeans<br />

are to the rest of the world.<br />

Soon after these initial programs,<br />

the CCC created classes to restore lost<br />

traditions and encourage cultural continuity.<br />

Live cooking classes featured<br />

rich recipes and foods like Dolma,<br />

Baklawa, Kibbeh, and more. The CCC<br />

began to teach Sureth classes so Chaldean-Americans<br />

who grew up speaking<br />

English could learn their ethnic<br />

language as adults.<br />

As these plans unfolded and gave<br />

the organization confidence in their<br />

early successes, the CCC continued to<br />

expand its mission. Whereas the earliest<br />

programs focused on explaining<br />

Chaldean culture to the wider metro<br />

Detroit community, the CCC understood<br />

its duty to preserve the stories,<br />

Francis Boji taking measurements in the Today Gallery for an exhibit placement.<br />

traditions, and documents that show<br />

who Chaldeans are.<br />

This series is perhaps the CCC’s<br />

greatest treasure, according to Romaya.<br />

It began interviewing Chaldean<br />

pioneers, some of whom immigrated<br />

to the United States before the 1920s.<br />

“They started interviewing people,<br />

the pioneers, before they all passed<br />

away,” Romaya said. “We recorded<br />

their voices, and we have physical cassette<br />

tapes. Some spoke in English and<br />

some in Sureth.”<br />

What was it like, coming to America?<br />

Where did you sleep on that very<br />

first night? These are the kinds of<br />

questions posed by the interviewers to<br />

Chaldean pioneers.<br />

“Basically, it was a bus ride from<br />

New York to Detroit,” Romaya answered,<br />

based on her understanding of<br />

the interviews. “One Chaldean woman<br />

ran a boarding house where you could<br />

sleep and eat for five dollars per week.<br />

The women would do your laundry and<br />

feed you until you got a job and could<br />

find your own place to live.”<br />

As a result of this digging, the CCC<br />

began collecting dozens of historic<br />

documents from their subjects that<br />

they could keep and preserve. Passports,<br />

immigration papers, or deeds<br />

to some of the first Chaldean stores<br />

were very common. Romaya said she<br />

doesn’t remember who came up with<br />

the idea, but eventually, the group realized<br />

they needed a museum to house<br />

and show off their collection.<br />

Nowadays, visitors see the museum<br />

as the main feature of the CCC because<br />

of its beauty and glamor. It didn’t open<br />

until 2017, however, and the CCC was<br />

plenty busy before that. “The CCC is<br />

more than just a museum,” Romaya<br />

said. “We consider ourselves the archivists<br />

for the Chaldean community.”<br />

The CCC wanted a real museum to<br />

honor and preserve the Chaldean culture.<br />

As far as Romaya knew, they were<br />

the first in the community to ever build<br />

a museum. The group ventured locally<br />

to the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Arab-<br />

American Museum, and the Holocaust<br />

Memorial Center. They travelled as far<br />

as Washington, DC to see the Smithsonian<br />

Museums and the National<br />

Museum of the American Indian. They<br />

went to Virginia to see how professionals<br />

warehouse artifacts and how to<br />

preserve them properly. It was diligent<br />

study and hard work like this that led to<br />

the grand accomplishment that is the<br />

museum embedded in the CCC.<br />

As they completed their initial discovery,<br />

the next step for the CCC was to<br />

find a firm to build the museum. In the<br />

process, they hired a creator, Sanan<br />

Media, who produces high-tech exhibits<br />

and engaging video.<br />

The CCC was close to finalizing the<br />

museum when the Great Recession<br />

wrecked the global economy. According<br />

to Romaya, “Funding dried up.<br />

People who were willing to give us<br />

money were now struggling to hang on<br />

to their own businesses,” she said. “I<br />

heard many stories of people who were<br />

barely surviving. Banks were calling in<br />

their loans. So, we totally stopped.”<br />

CCC continued on page 28<br />

26 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

&<br />

Chaldean Community Foundation in collaboration with the Jewish Federations of North America<br />







This service is supported by a grant from<br />

The JFNA Center on Holocaust Survivor Care<br />

and Institute on Aging and Trauma.<br />

• Please wear comfortable clothing<br />

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Chaldean Community Foundation<br />

3601 15 mile Rd.<br />

Sterling Heights, MI 48310<br />

586-722-7253<br />

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 27


CCC continued from page 26<br />

Around the same time, the CCC ran<br />

into an even larger problem. Shenandoah<br />

Country Club as a whole could not<br />

meet its financial obligations as a result<br />

of the downturn. According to the terms<br />

of its loan, the club had to maintain a<br />

certain number of members, otherwise<br />

the bank could call it in and look for a<br />

new buyer to purchase the club.<br />

As the recession drew on, several<br />

interested buyers presented themselves,<br />

but the CCC’s presence helped<br />

save the club and keep it in the Chaldean<br />

community. When Shenandoah<br />

was initially purchased, CIAAM added<br />

the CCC to the deed of the property.<br />

This meant that any future owners<br />

would need to keep the CCC inside,<br />

since this organization did not have<br />

any obligation to the bank. According<br />

to Romaya, this deterred multiple potential<br />

buyers from closing a deal.<br />

After it was clear nobody would<br />

buy Shenandoah while the CCC remained,<br />

its loan was greatly reduced.<br />

“Shenandoah survived, therefore, we<br />

survived,” Romaya said. They began<br />

actively constructing the museum<br />

around 2013.<br />

The CCC’s current museum consists<br />

of five exhibits: Ancient Mesopotamia,<br />

Faith and Church, Village Life,<br />

Journey to America, and Chaldeans<br />

Today. Each displays a significant portion<br />

of Chaldean history and uses interesting<br />

and unique forms to tell the<br />

story of the Chaldeans.<br />

The Ancient Mesopotamia exhibit<br />

displays authentic replicas as well as<br />

original artifacts retrieved from ancient<br />

cities. The main feature is a replica<br />

of the Stele of Hammurabi as well<br />

as a digital interactive that translates<br />

a few of the laws encoded on the stele.<br />

The Faith and Church gallery traces<br />

the origins and development of the<br />

Church of the East and, eventually,<br />

the Chaldean Church. It shows how<br />

important Chaldeans were for the development<br />

of the Church and, in turn,<br />

how deeply those traditions inform<br />

our cultural identity today.<br />

The section on Village Life gives<br />

geographic and detailed information<br />

about living in a village and where<br />

Chaldeans come from. It also draws in<br />

the audience with realistic displays and<br />

a holographic video showing Chaldean<br />

village traditions like bread-making.<br />

A hologram in the Village Gallery in which Hanna Shina, a founding board member,<br />

is portraying a grandfather showing his grandson how to use a slingshot.<br />

The Journey to America exhibit<br />

shows documents from some of the earliest<br />

Chaldean immigrants from Iraq. It<br />

also has an audio exhibit where you can<br />

hear stories from Chaldean pioneers.<br />

Take a few steps forward to enter an<br />

old-style grocery store that Chaldeans<br />

were famous for in the early 1900s.<br />

In the Chaldeans Today gallery, the<br />

museum explains the local and recent<br />

history of Chaldeans as well as the rest<br />

of the diaspora around the world. It<br />

showcases some of the modern Chaldean<br />

success stories and community<br />

builders in a documentary-style video<br />

at the end of the tour.<br />

After opening the museum to the<br />

public, Romaya felt her work was done<br />

and wanted to find a suitable replacement<br />

as the CCC’s leader. “We had a<br />

museum now,” she said. “What we<br />

needed was someone who was there<br />

on a regular basis. My background is<br />

a historian and educator. We needed<br />

someone who was into programming<br />

and social media, someone who could<br />

really promote the CCC.”<br />

It wasn’t until 2019 when the CCC<br />

found Romaya’s long-term replacement.<br />

In the spring of that year, Weam<br />

Namou, who is the current Executive<br />

Director of the CCC, received a call<br />

from Judy Jonna, who served as the<br />

CCC board’s chairperson.<br />

Namou is a published author and<br />

filmmaker, among many other things,<br />

and had experience in the nonprofit sector<br />

working with artist organizations.<br />

Her mother had passed away recently,<br />

she said, which meant she was not looking<br />

for a job at that time, and didn’t think<br />

she would be interested in this particular<br />

role anyway. That is, however, until<br />

she stepped inside the museum.<br />

“I felt so deeply our culture and<br />

heritage and history through my whole<br />

body, reaching out to grab my attention,”<br />

she said. “I wasn’t expecting<br />

that. I went home that day thinking<br />

about it. Like so many others, I spent<br />

a lot of time complaining that we don’t<br />

value our heritage, we don’t try to preserve<br />

it, and we don’t spend enough<br />

time doing that.”<br />

That’s why Namou accepted the<br />

position. She worked with the CCC to<br />

premiere one of her films at the now<br />

closed Maple Theater, and soon after,<br />

began working as the executive director.<br />

“We had a gorgeous, beautiful<br />

museum, but we didn’t have any programming,”<br />

she said. To Namou, the<br />

museum was a true gem with lots to<br />

offer the community, but it hid behind<br />

the walls of Shenandoah.<br />

Shortly after she joined the CCC’s<br />

team, an administrator left the organization,<br />

which meant a lot more work<br />

for Namou. The first thing she did was<br />

apply for a certain grant that she expected<br />

to get with relative ease. To her<br />

surprise, her application was rejected,<br />

with a long list of reasons why the CCC<br />

was unqualified.<br />

“I literally took every single item<br />

they listed and addressed it,” she said.<br />

“A lot of it had to do with the website<br />

and our social media. There was a serious<br />

lack of activity. We needed to start<br />

posting and having activities.”<br />

As she revamped these programs,<br />

Namou also tried her best to involve<br />

other Chaldean communities besides<br />

those in West Bloomfield to interact<br />

with the CCC. Since Namou herself was<br />

from Sterling Heights, she knew for<br />

certain that the communities living far<br />

from the CCC needed to be made aware<br />

of it and could help expand its reach.<br />

“In the beginning, I didn’t see how<br />

far we would come,” she said. “When<br />

things got really hard, I had doubts<br />

in the back of my head. But I had this<br />

sense, deep down, that this place was<br />

very special. The meaning and significance<br />

just piled on.”<br />

Namou is proud of the work she<br />

did from the very beginning of her<br />

tenure as the executive director. Her<br />

goal was to teach as many people<br />

about Chaldeans and their culture as<br />

she could. To that end, she contacted<br />

every school within driving distance<br />

and offered to give a presentation.<br />

To her surprise, nearly everyone accepted,<br />

and within a few months she<br />

gave these presentations to dozens of<br />

schools and thousands of students.<br />

“I was so proud whenever I did<br />

these presentations to Chaldean students.<br />

They looked at me with wide<br />

eyes, trying to tell me they themselves<br />

were Chaldean,” she said. “These<br />

were the things that fed my spirit, seeing<br />

their reactions to the lesson about<br />

their heritage.”<br />

The other program she restarted<br />

was the digital storytelling, which<br />

resembles the original program that<br />

began almost 20 years ago. “We went<br />

out to senior homes and had elderly<br />

Chaldeans tell us their stories and do<br />

chants that you can no longer hear un-<br />

CCC continued on page 30<br />

28 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 29


CCC continued from page 28<br />

less you’re from back home because<br />

that’s how old they are,” Namou said.<br />

“We interviewed people in Australia,<br />

India, Iraq, and even Argentina. I believe<br />

this storytelling has a healing<br />

component. We had so many people<br />

shed tears because we gave them an<br />

opportunity to share things that have<br />

been stuck in their hearts.”<br />

One of the CCC’s goals, aside from<br />

its aim to preserve and document our<br />

culture, is to forge relationships with<br />

other cultural and educational institutions<br />

and to promote a greater understanding<br />

of the Chaldean culture among<br />

other communities. To accomplish this,<br />

Namou started the virtual discussion series,<br />

with which she connects and interviews<br />

people from all cultures.<br />

Bridging this gap and listening to<br />

others, which comes from her journalistic<br />

instincts, is crucial for fostering<br />

respect from other communities. “By<br />

reaching out to other communities,<br />

they get to learn about your heritage<br />

and you get to learn about theirs,” Namou<br />

said. “This program helps us step<br />

outside of ourselves. We can’t stay in<br />

our own bubble like we’re in Iraq.”<br />

The beautiful museum remains the<br />

CCC’s crown jewel. Although it is not<br />

even ten years old, the organization<br />

plans to move its space and expand on<br />

the galleries at the new Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation’s West Campus.<br />

“It was hidden,” Namou said about<br />

the current CCC museum. “Because of<br />

that, there’s not enough traffic for regular<br />

operating hours. When we move,<br />

the goal is to have a regular, 9-5 schedule<br />

and allow people to walk through<br />

the museum at any point.”<br />

Right when it was presented to her,<br />

Weam said, the move seemed like a<br />

perfect fit. Even members of Shenandoah<br />

who frequent the country club<br />

aren’t familiar with the CCC or the<br />

fact that there’s a museum located inside.<br />

She most looks forward to being<br />

neighbors with other organizations<br />

that have similar goals and being able<br />

to share resources.<br />

The CCF’s new campus will feature<br />

a Radio and Television studio for the<br />

Chaldean News virtually next door to<br />

the CCC’s museum. The CCF also plans<br />

to create the Bishop Ibrahim Library,<br />

which will contain delicate manuscripts<br />

written hundreds of years ago<br />

as well as modern-day books. Finally,<br />

the building has office and meeting areas<br />

as well as a large event space available<br />

to the CCC.<br />

The biggest addition to the museum<br />

will be the new Genocide Gallery.<br />

Namou thinks it’s a necessary addition,<br />

even though it’s an unpleasant<br />

topic. “It’s a responsibility now,” she<br />

said, adding that for a while, she didn’t<br />

want to look at the issue because it’s<br />

too painful. “I feel like I’m honoring a<br />

part of our history in a way that I never<br />

really saw before.”<br />

There are plenty of genocides in<br />

Chaldean history that need to be addressed,<br />

taught, discussed, and remembered.<br />

Throughout most of Muslim<br />

rule in the Middle East, Christians<br />

were persecuted at varying degrees of<br />

intensity depending on the age and<br />

the leader. The Mongol invasions left<br />

many Chaldean villages ravaged and<br />

destroyed. The stories are centuriesold,<br />

but these tragic deeds still ripple<br />

through time and affect the Chaldean<br />

community today.<br />

Other events are much more recent,<br />

including those that living Chaldeans<br />

remember vividly through their<br />

family stories. Throughout the 1800s,<br />

warlords in modern-day Iraq, Turkey,<br />

and Syria would frequently raid Chaldean<br />

villages. This kind of behavior<br />

culminated around the time of WWI<br />

in an event often called the Sayfo, or<br />

“Sword” in Sureth, or in academia,<br />

the Assyrian Genocide. Unfortunately<br />

for its victims, this genocide is often<br />

overlooked and grouped in with the<br />

Armenian Genocide, although its targeted<br />

community is entirely separate<br />

and suffered on its own.<br />

Namou began reading a book<br />

called “Shall This Nation Die?” written<br />

by Rev. Joseph Naayem. He recounts<br />

the events of the Sayfo, as witnessed<br />

by the subjects of his books, and<br />

pleads with his audience to make this<br />

event known so that it doesn’t fall into<br />

obscurity or happen again. “We owe<br />

him that,” Namou said. “Their stories<br />

will be told in the Genocide Gallery.”<br />

Of course, much more recent events<br />

One of the CCC’s goals, aside from its aim<br />

to preserve and document our culture, is to<br />

forge relationships with other cultural and<br />

educational institutions and to promote a<br />

greater understanding of the Chaldean culture<br />

among other communities.<br />


STORY<br />

like the ISIS invasion completely destroyed<br />

or gutted plenty of Chaldean<br />

villages and towns. Tel Keppe, the<br />

village from which most of Detroit’s<br />

Chaldeans originate, was emptied of<br />

its residents by ISIS in the summer of<br />

2014, only ten years ago. Many Chaldeans<br />

have family or remember these<br />

events themselves.<br />

Certain areas of the Tel Keppe<br />

were vandalized, like the churches,<br />

which ISIS used as shooting ranges.<br />

Other places were totally destroyed,<br />

like the cemetery, which featured<br />

toppled headstones and disrespected<br />

deceased ancestors. Only a few Chaldeans<br />

returned to the village, which<br />

currently holds around 50 Christian<br />

families, compared to thousands that<br />

lived there prior.<br />

These events are fresh in the Chaldean<br />

cultural memory and need to be<br />

preserved for future generations, Namou<br />

argued. The new space will allow them<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

to expand on the rest of the museum and<br />

include items relevant to the community<br />

and its history that happened since the<br />

CCC opened, like the ISIS invasion and<br />

the U.S. invasion of Iraq.<br />

For Chaldeans who know about it<br />

and have toured the museum, the CCC<br />

is a treasure. It has come a long way<br />

since its humble beginnings in 2003,<br />

establishing a cultural agenda that<br />

will influence the Chaldean community<br />

for years to come.<br />

Mary Romaya’s favorite memory of<br />

the CCC came when they filmed a promotional<br />

video of the museum. Sanan<br />

Media, which helped the organization<br />

before, asked Romaya to bring everyone<br />

she could for the shoot. She called<br />

all her friends and family until the museum<br />

was virtually at capacity.<br />

“It was February 2017, and the museum<br />

was basically built,” she said.<br />

“The grand opening was not until<br />

September. Sanan videotaped people<br />

walking through the museum, touching<br />

interactives, and learning about<br />

Chaldean culture.” The video, which<br />

was filmed seven years ago, is still featured<br />

on the CCC’s website.<br />

“When it was all over, my son<br />

hugged me and told me, ‘I am so proud<br />

to be a Chaldean.’ My heart just melted,”<br />

Romaya said, proving how important<br />

the museum and her own heritage<br />

are. “That is a moment in my life I will<br />

always treasure.”<br />

Namou appeals to her Chaldean<br />

community, imploring them to spend<br />

more time understanding their heritage<br />

and reading about their history,<br />

how special it is, and what we’ve contributed<br />

throughout history.<br />

“We have an amazing, powerful,<br />

and rich community,” she said. “Rich<br />

in history and wealth. I want us to use<br />

some of that, whether it’s time and<br />

energy or funds, to give a bit more attention<br />

to the CCC and preserving our<br />

culture in general.”<br />

Understanding our culture, according<br />

to Namou, will give us a better understanding<br />

of who we are today in the<br />

diaspora. “I used to travel to Europe.<br />

People who live in Rome don’t care<br />

about the Colosseum because they<br />

pass it every day,” she said. “I didn’t<br />

understand it, but now, I think sometimes<br />

we too ignore what we have. I<br />

hope we don’t neglect it because this<br />

history is a very powerful and important<br />

part of who we are.”<br />

30 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 31


Mayor of Hamdaniya, Nineveh Speaks Out<br />

A candid conversation with Mayor Issam Behnam Matti<br />


In celebration of the 21st Annual Awards Dinner<br />

hosted by the Chaldean American Chamber of<br />

Commerce (CACC) in Michigan, the organizers invited<br />

several dignitaries from Iraq. Among those that<br />

accepted and made the trip to the U.S. were the mayors<br />

of the Districts of Qaraqosh/Nineveh, Mayor Issam<br />

Behnam Matti, and Ankawa/Erbil, Mayor Ramy<br />

Noori Syawish.<br />

While they were here, the Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation (CCF) in Sterling Heights facilitated several<br />

meetings, including one with Mayor Syawish<br />

and Mayor Michael Taylor of Sterling Heights. Their<br />

discussions revolved around shared experiences,<br />

developing joint work, consolidating relations, and<br />

connecting bridges of communication between our<br />

people at home and abroad. The two mayors also<br />

discussed the possibility of creating a sister-city relationship.<br />

On Saturday, April 27, the CCF hosted the Governor<br />

of Nineveh for a Town Hall discussion. Participants<br />

discussed ways to support the minority community<br />

in Iraq (Mosul). CCF president Martin Manna<br />

addressed demographic changes, hiring community<br />

members for Iraqi government positions, and implementing<br />

Article 125, which provides for self-administration<br />

for Chaldeans and other minority communities<br />

in Iraq. Also present were the Iraqi General<br />

Counsel and the mayor of Al-Hamdaniya, Issam Behnam<br />

Matti Da’aboul.<br />

The Chaldean News staff took the opportunity<br />

while they were in town to have candid conversations<br />

with both mayors. The mayor of Al-Hamdaniya gave<br />

the CN an exclusive interview about the situation<br />

post-ISIS, the reconstruction process, and the coexistence<br />

of the individual components of the region. The<br />

mayor of Ankawa shed light on the challenges and<br />

opportunities facing the people in the Kurdistan Regional<br />

Government area and Nineveh Plain regions<br />

and discussed ways to support them.<br />

Mayor Issam Behnam Matti<br />

The mayor was born in Bakhdida in 1967 and was<br />

educated in his hometown and at Mosul University<br />

with a BS Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was<br />

married in 1998; his wife holds a master’s degree in<br />

physics and currently lectures at Hamdaniya University.<br />

His parents are Behnam Matti and Ammo Dano,<br />

and he has 4 brothers and 3 sisters.<br />

Issam worked for the Hamdaniya municipality<br />

and public works for 10 years but had to flee to<br />

France when ISIS rolled into the district in 2015. His<br />

house in Qaraqosh was used as ISIS headquarters. Issam<br />

returned after the district was liberated and participated<br />

in local elections. On February 27, 2018, he<br />

was elected as mayor of the District of Hamdaniya for<br />

a 4-year term by a majority of the district council (13<br />

out of 15) and has been in this position since, despite<br />

many attempts by local militias to remove him.<br />

Chaldean News: Tell us a bit about your district.<br />

Mayor Issam: Al-Hamdaniya is one of the large<br />

districts in Nineveh Governorate - northern Iraq.<br />

It includes three districts and several villages. Al-<br />

Hamdāniyya (Arabic) has three distinct names; its<br />

other names are Qaraqosh, which means “black<br />

bird” in Turkish, and Bakhdida (Aramaic).<br />

Qaraqosh, the city 33 kilometers from Mosul, was<br />

the heart of the Christian community in Iraq and the<br />

biggest Christian town in Iraq—with a population of<br />

about 60,000, most of them Syriac and Chaldean—<br />

before it was overrun by the Sunni Muslim jihadist<br />

group Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014.<br />

The heart stopped beating for 34 months when it<br />

was occupied by ISIS Caliphate. Its citizens faced a<br />

stark decision—convert to Islam or be killed. Thus,<br />

the district was emptied of its inhabitants in a matter<br />

of a few days.<br />

In 2003, the number of people in Qaraqosh was<br />

around 70,000, but 40% of the locals fled the area<br />

due to lack of security, demographic changes, and<br />

work opportunities over the years. The neighboring<br />

town of Bartella (Syriacs Orthodox) suffered the most<br />

significant demographic changes and the historic<br />

Chaldean town of Karmles lost 70% of its people.<br />

Before 2014, Qaraqosh was a bustling city and<br />

was home to the largest population of Christians in<br />

the entire country. The population of Bakhdida today<br />

is 25,000-30,000. The town is still being rebuilt and<br />

about half of its residents are said to have returned.<br />

The district was the breadbasket of the region,<br />

known for its rich fields, agriculture, and poultry<br />

farms. We had 190 poultry farms, enough to feed all<br />

of Kurdistan and part of Iraq!<br />

CN: How did ISIS change the district?<br />

Mayor Issam: In 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and<br />

the Levant (ISIS) took control of the Hamdaniya District<br />

(southeast of Mosul) and damaged government<br />

buildings in the district center in addition to destroying<br />

and burning thousands of homes and religious<br />

sites. Their invasion forced nearly all of the city’s<br />

Christians to flee for their lives.<br />

The mayor’s neighborhood and house were first<br />

occupied by ISIS and were used as its headquarters.<br />

Their walls were filled with ISIS insignias, and names<br />

of its leaders Abou Talha Al-Almani (the German),<br />

Abou Fatuma, and others.<br />

The district was regained from ISIS control in 2017,<br />

but not all of the residents of the district returned to<br />

their homes. This was the most decisive front in the<br />

war against Daesh. In liberating Qaraqosh and Mosul,<br />

the military won a battle, but victory is still far<br />

off. Until the security situation, corruption, exploitation,<br />

and ignorance are defeated, the dark elements<br />

will always know where to go to find fresh blood for<br />

their cause.<br />

After the liberation of the district, the number of<br />

returning displaced persons began to gradually increase.<br />

At present 90-100% of the Arabs, Shabaks,<br />

Kakais, and Turkmen returned to the district because<br />

the judiciary administration is working to erase the<br />

effects of the ISIS war and provide the necessary services<br />

for the return of normal life to Al-Hamdaniya.<br />

The percentage of returning Christians to Bakhdida<br />

was 60 percent, meaning that 40 percent of them<br />

did not return because they were more damaged than<br />

others by the ISIS war. Bartella lost most of its Christian<br />

population, and Karmles lost 70% of its people.<br />

Most of the displaced people live in Ankawa and the<br />

KRG region.<br />

MAYOR continued on page 34<br />

32 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 33


MAYOR continued from page 32<br />

CN: Are there accurate statistics and follow-ups<br />

on the damage caused by ISIS?<br />

Mayor Issam: Upon returning to<br />

their hometown of Qaraqosh, most<br />

Christian families found nothing but<br />

scorched buildings and decimated infrastructure.<br />

ISIS wreaked havoc on<br />

the city during their occupation.<br />

There are no accurate statistics to<br />

determine the extent of the damage,<br />

but some regions worked on this issue,<br />

and it became clear that there was<br />

considerable damage to government<br />

buildings in the district center (Bakhdida<br />

- Qaraqosh) in addition to the<br />

burning and destruction of five thousand<br />

homes.<br />

The service sector in the districts<br />

and villages of Al-Hamdaniya was also<br />

damaged. There were more than 180<br />

poultry farms in Al-Hamdaniya, more<br />

than 150 of which were destroyed, 70<br />

percent of which have not been restored<br />

yet.<br />

Electrical power transmission<br />

lines have been rehabilitated, but we<br />

suffer from the problem of scarcity of<br />

production like the rest of Iraq. As for<br />

drinking water, there is a single water<br />

project in Hamdaniya that previously<br />

supplied 50,000 people in the area<br />

with water, but now it is not enough to<br />

meet the needs of the population.<br />

CN: Rebuilding, how did you face this<br />

challenge?<br />

Mayor Issam: After the liberation, the<br />

deterioration of the service sectors was<br />

not the only problem we faced. The<br />

task was very difficult, but with the<br />

support of international organizations<br />

and following a solid plan to educate<br />

citizens, which included forming a<br />

group that included clerics from all<br />

components, as well as through education<br />

centers, we were able to restore<br />

peaceful coexistence to the region.<br />

One of the first activities was to<br />

conduct an extensive survey of the<br />

needs of the damaged towns and villages.<br />

The survey results showed that<br />

people require basic things like food,<br />

education, job training, counseling,<br />

and spiritual development.<br />

Education is a beacon of hope in<br />

Qaraqosh for the returning citizens.<br />

Education, schools, and teachers have<br />

been key in the district; teachers were<br />

its best contribution to early education<br />

in Iraq. Academic formation and<br />

education about living together peacefully,<br />

they need community and they<br />

need schools for every subject and<br />

every grade, but especially for the<br />

youngest group.<br />

CN: Define the infrastructure issues,<br />

(i.e., lack of services, poor roads, etc.)<br />

Mayor Issam: In the beginning, the<br />

government’s efforts were not at the<br />

required level; however, with time and<br />

through the governorates’ development<br />

budget, work was done on many<br />

water and electricity projects. I do<br />

not say that all services are available,<br />

40 percent of<br />

Christians did not<br />

return to Bakhdida<br />

because of damage<br />

from the ISIS war.<br />

but the service aspect now is better in<br />

comparison to the period before the<br />

arrival of ISIS.<br />

The administrative changes in<br />

Mosul, especially after the change<br />

of the governor (in 2019), were a major<br />

change with reconstruction campaigns<br />

launched in all sectors, especially<br />

the restoration of public sector<br />

buildings. At present, we are discussing<br />

the issue of the return of the Investment<br />

Authority so that it has a role in<br />

the reconstruction.<br />

The main institutions in the district<br />

were repaired or rebuilt. For example,<br />

Al-Hamdaniya General Hospital is<br />

considered one of the best hospitals in<br />

Iraq. The hospital was rebuilt and rehabilitated<br />

by USAID. It is considered<br />

the best hospital in the Nineveh Plain<br />

region with over 1,800 employees and<br />

has various specialized departments<br />

(surgery, dentistry, optometry, kidney<br />

dialysis center, and other essential departments).<br />

The water lines and network are<br />

working well. The sewer system project<br />

was revitalized after liberation.<br />

Tunnels were used by ISIS to store<br />

weapons. Today it is considered the<br />

first major public work that was completed<br />

in Iraq.<br />

In the education sector, most<br />

schools have been renovated in addition<br />

to building new schools. We also<br />

have new private schools. The University<br />

of Hamdaniya is fully operational,<br />

it offers BS Degrees in different fields<br />

and its entire faculty is made of Iraqi<br />

academics. It plans to start master’s<br />

programs in 2025.<br />

The colleges of the university<br />

graduate 30-40 physicians and 40-50<br />

engineers every year; however, new<br />

graduates need workplaces. The agricultural<br />

sector which is the lifeline of<br />

the region is still weak and antiquated.<br />

It needs a new vision and 21st century<br />

farming strategies and new irrigation<br />

technologies.<br />

CN: What about rebuilding the churches<br />

and religious sites?<br />

Mayor Issam: The pope’s visit in 2023<br />

placed Al-Hamdaniya under the spotlights<br />

of international media. It was a<br />

historical marker where the people’s<br />

faith, resilience, and desire to stay in<br />

their ancestral towns were strongly evident.<br />

A campaign of restoration and<br />

rebuilding took place by foreign and<br />

local organizations.<br />

Unfortunately, not all churches<br />

and religious sites that were burned<br />

and destroyed by ISIS militants were<br />

restored. These important sites in the<br />

district were not given priority by the<br />

Iraqi officials. The main church (Al-Tahira<br />

- the Immaculate) in Hamdaniya<br />

and the Seminary was used as a shooting<br />

range and training arena by ISIS.<br />

We can see that the churches of<br />

Mosul have been rehabilitated with<br />

funds allocated to them by foreign<br />

organizations and hope that the Iraqi<br />

government will allocate a budget for<br />

the reconstruction of religious sites<br />

within its future budgets and plans.<br />

CN: How secure is the region?<br />

Mayor Issam: Before ISIS, we did not<br />

know exactly who was responsible for<br />

the security of the region. After the<br />

ISIL invasion on August 6, 2014, the<br />

town was under the control of ISIL until<br />

October 16, 2016.<br />

Since liberation from ISIS, the<br />

Nineveh Plain Protection Units<br />

(NPU) run the security profile in the<br />

city alongside the Iraqi Army.<br />

Several initiatives were introduced<br />

in 2021 to hire local police officers, federal<br />

police, and district military staff.<br />

By July 1, <strong>2024</strong>, we expect that the<br />

federal government forces will be in<br />

charge of the security file completely.<br />

CN: Can you tell us about displacement<br />

and the return of refugees?<br />

Mayor Issam: I believe that the continuation<br />

of the assistance provided to<br />

citizens, especially farmers, will help<br />

them return, stay, and revive agricultural<br />

lands, and will contribute to the<br />

return of stability and coexistence.<br />

International community organizations<br />

played a notable role through<br />

their programs and granting small<br />

loans, such as those now granted to<br />

farmers, to pay attention to the agricultural<br />

sector in their regions.<br />

I believe that we have made great<br />

strides in this field, as evidenced by<br />

the fact that ISIS failed to create an<br />

incubating environment and carry out<br />

terrorist operations in the region after<br />

its liberation, except in some rare<br />

cases. This is evidence that the people<br />

of the region are cooperating with the<br />

security services.<br />

CN: What about the confiscation of<br />

land and demographic changes?<br />

Mayor Issam: Buying and selling<br />

land, homes, and properties was<br />

scarce before ISIS. The lands of Bakhdida<br />

were a red line for anyone who<br />

dared to touch them; however, Bartella<br />

was and continues to be a thorny<br />

issue where properties were sold to<br />

non-Christians.<br />

Bartella, in Iraq’s Christian heartland,<br />

is a complex problem with continuous<br />

feuds over the town’s identity.<br />

A historic Christian town, first mentioned<br />

in 1153 AD, Bartella is home to<br />

many Syriac Orthodox Christians and<br />

Shabaks, a group with a disputed ethnic<br />

origin but related to Kurds.<br />

When I assumed my post as mayor,<br />

I worked closely with the local<br />

political parties (Assyrian Democratic<br />

Movement, The Syriac Coalition<br />

Movement), departments of land records<br />

in Hamdaniya and Mosul, and<br />

enlisted the help of Article 23-B of the<br />

Iraqi Constitution and the interpretation<br />

of the Supreme Court (decision<br />

#65 of 2013) regarding the preservation<br />

of the land rights of minorities<br />

and components in their region and<br />

that settlement of outsiders must be<br />

MAYOR continued on page 36<br />

34 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 35


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MAYOR continued from page 34<br />

with obtaining the necessary legal approvals.<br />

Resisting demographic changes<br />

and upholding the law requires grit<br />

and administrative will. I considered<br />

the Supreme Court decision as a central<br />

law and opinion against demographic<br />

changes. A recent example<br />

was the case of a Shabak person who<br />

purchased a residential property from<br />

another Shabak without due process<br />

and sued me in Mosul Court. The Integrity<br />

Court of Mosul threw the case<br />

and sided with me in a historic opinion<br />

dated April 15, <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

CN: What of the wedding fire in Qaraqosh?<br />

What did the investigation find?<br />

Mayor Issam: A massive fire broke<br />

out in Al-Haitham wedding hall in Al-<br />

Hamdaniya district, on September 26<br />

or 27, 2023, that resulted in the death<br />

of 122 people and the injury of dozens.<br />

Safety standards are often to blame<br />

and poorly observed in Iraq, which<br />

has been plagued by decades of mismanagement<br />

and corruption. The<br />

wedding hall that burned in Al-Hamdaniya<br />

had a capacity of 500, but twice<br />

the number was inside when the blaze<br />

started. It was also “devoid of emergency<br />

doors.” Safety instructions are<br />

often not followed in Iraq, especially<br />

in the construction and transportation<br />

sectors, which frequently leads to fires<br />

and other deadly disasters.<br />

The official line about the tragedy<br />

that occurred in late September was<br />

that it was “accidental and 100% an<br />

act of God” and that the main cause<br />

of the accident was the launch of<br />

fireworks inside the hall at a height<br />

exceeding four meters from four machines.<br />

The investigation committee concluded<br />

that these fireworks led to the<br />

burning of the roof, which was built of<br />

“highly flammable” and “prohibited”<br />

materials, in addition to decorative<br />

materials and materials from which<br />

the hall’s curtains were made, all of<br />

which were highly flammable. The investigative<br />

committee also noted the<br />

presence of “large quantities of alcoholic<br />

beverages,” which helped speed<br />

up the spread of the fire.<br />

The results of the investigation<br />

were not satisfactory to the families<br />

of the victims and feelings were filled<br />

with doubts and anger. The investigation<br />

and conclusion were determined<br />

in haste by military personnel, without<br />

the participation of international<br />

experts. Our people believe that there<br />

was a cover-up, and that the investigation<br />

was tainted by influential political<br />

interest.<br />

Massive demonstrations took place<br />

in Qaraqosh, against political clientelism<br />

demanding a re-investigation of<br />

the tragedy and at the top of the list,<br />

investigating the files of the powers<br />

controlling the area’s security and that<br />

the security file be handled exclusively<br />

by members of the judiciary.<br />

In this tragedy, I lost one of my sisters<br />

plus 9 cousins and their wives. We<br />

have a large number of burned cases<br />

that cannot be treated.<br />

CN: Do you have anything you’d like to<br />

share with our readers?<br />

Mayor Issam: Fear is more powerful<br />

than weapons. This issue was one of<br />

the difficult challenges. The people are<br />

suffering from many problems, immigration<br />

and loss of population are the<br />

toughest challenges facing the town<br />

today. Security, local economy, and<br />

keeping the Nineveh Plain region away<br />

from local politics and militia forces.<br />

Our priorities are security, the rule<br />

of law, building community relationships,<br />

providing a stable business<br />

environment, developing the local<br />

economy, empowering the people,<br />

restoring hope, community collaboration,<br />

and government support.<br />

The current PM Al-Sudani government<br />

seems to be serious and organized<br />

and issued a decree 25-230 to<br />

form a committee that examines and<br />

resolves land disputes. After his recent<br />

visit to the U.S. in April, the PM<br />

issued an administrative decree #235-<br />

23 to implement the Supreme Court<br />

decisions and formed a new committee<br />

that deals with the component’s<br />

complaints.<br />

All in all, we can say that progress<br />

is taking place and 90 percent of government<br />

departments and institutions<br />

in the district have resumed their duties.<br />

The district continues to attract<br />

admiration and acclaim from local<br />

politicians and international visitors.<br />



NEWS<br />

36 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

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<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 37


مقابلة وحوار رصيح مع قائم مقام الحمدانية عصام بهنام متى دعبول<br />

بقلم د عضيد مريي،‏<br />

احتفاالً‏ بحفل توزيع الجوائز السنوي<br />

الحادي والعرشين الذي استضافته<br />

غرفة التجارة الكلدانية األمريكية<br />

يف ميشيغان مساء 26 نيسان/ابريل <strong>2024</strong>، ودعا<br />

املنظمون لحضورها العديد من الشخصيات البارزة<br />

من العراق،‏ والوالية،‏ والعاصمة،‏ واشنطن.‏ ومن<br />

بني الذين قبلوا الدعوة وقاموا بالرحلة إىل الواليات<br />

املتحدة،‏ رئيس بلدية الحمدانية/بخديدا/قرة قوش/‏<br />

نينوى،‏ ‏)عصام بهنام متي(،‏ ورئيس بلدية عنكاوا/‏<br />

أربيل،‏ ‏)رامي نوري سياويش(.‏<br />

أثناء وجودهم هنا،‏ قامت مؤسسة الجالية<br />

الكلدانية برتتيب جملة من االجتامعات منها اجتامع<br />

قائم مقام عنكاوا مع عمدة مدينة سرتلنك هايتس<br />

‏)مايكل تايلور(.‏ ودارت نقاشاتهم حول تبادل الخربات<br />

وتطوير العمل املشرتك وتوطيد العالقات ومد<br />

جسور التواصل بني شعبينا يف الداخل والخارج.‏ كام<br />

ناقش رئيسا البلديتني إمكانية إنشاء عالقة توأمة بني<br />

املدينتني.‏<br />

ويف يوم السبت 27 نيسان <strong>2024</strong>،<br />

استضافت مؤسسة الجالية الكلدانية<br />

محافظ نينوى السيد ‏)عبد القادر<br />

الدخيل(‏ يف<br />

لقاء وندوة عامة مع أبناء الجالية ناقش املشاركون<br />

والحضور فيها سبل دعم مجتمع األقليات يف العراق<br />

‏)املوصل(.‏ تناول رئيس أبدى رئيس مؤسسة الجالية<br />

الكلدانية مارتن منا وعكس للمسؤولني عدد من<br />

االهتاممات التي تثري قلق الجالية واملكونات منها<br />

التغريات الدميوغرافية،‏ ورضورة تعيني أفراد من أعضاء<br />

املجتمع املسيحي املحيل يف مناصب حكومية عراقية،‏<br />

وتنفيذ املادة 125 من الدستور العراقي،‏ التي تنص<br />

عىل اإلدارة الذاتية للكلدان واألقليات واملكونات<br />

األخرى يف العراق.‏ حرض الندوة سعادة القنصل العام<br />

لجمهورية العراق يف ديرتويت ‏)السيد محمد حسن<br />

سعيد محمد أملحرتم(‏ ورئيس بلدية الحمدانية عصام<br />

بهنام متى دعبول.‏<br />

واغتنمت مجلتنا ‏)كالديان نيوز - أخبار الكلدان(‏<br />

الفرصة أثناء تواجدهم يف ميشيغان إلجراء مقابالت<br />

مع رئييس البلديتني.‏ سلط رئيس بلدية عنكاوا الضوء<br />

عىل التحديات والفرص التي تواجه األهايل يف منطقة<br />

حكومة إقليم كوردستان ومنطقة سهل نينوى وناقش<br />

سبل دعمها،‏ وأجرى رئيس بلدية الحمدانية مقابلة<br />

حرصية حول الوضع بعد داعش،‏ وعملية إعادة<br />

اإلعامر،‏ والتعايش بني املكونات الفردية يف املنطقة.‏<br />

وأدناه نص املقابلة التي أجراها كاتب هذه املقالة:‏<br />

مقدمة:‏ رئيس البلدية عصام بهنام<br />

متي دعبول<br />

ولد قائم مقام الحمدانية ‏)بخديدا/قرة قوش(‏ عام<br />

1967 يف بخديدا وتلقى تعليمه األويل والثانوي يف<br />

مسقط رأسه وبعد ذلك يف جامعة املوصل وحصل عىل<br />

درجة البكالوريوس يف الهندسة امليكانيكية.‏ تزوج عام<br />

1998، وزوجته حاصلة عىل درجة املاجستري يف الفيزياء<br />

وتحارض حاليا كأستاذة يف جامعة الحمدانية.‏ والديه<br />

هام بهنام متي وعمو دانو،‏ وله 4 إخوة و‎3‎ أخوات.‏<br />

عمل عصام يف بلدية الحمدانية واألشغال العامة<br />

ملدة 10 سنوات،‏ لكنه اضطر إىل مغادرة املدينة إىل<br />

فرنسا عندما دخلت عصابات داعش إىل املنطقة يف<br />

عام 2015. ومن نكد األيام ان تم استخدام منزله يف<br />

قرقوش كأحد مقرات داعش.‏ عاد عصام بعد تحرير<br />

املنطقة وشارك يف االنتخابات املحلية،‏ ويف 27 فرباير<br />

2018، تم انتخابه رئيساً‏ لبلدية الحمدانية ملدة 4<br />

سنوات بأغلبية أعضاء مجلس القضاء )13 من أصل<br />

15( وظل يف هذا املنصب منذ ذلك الحني،‏ عىل<br />

الرغم من املحاوالت العديدة والفاشلة التي بذلتها<br />

امليليشيات املحلية إلزالته من منصبة.‏<br />

س - أخربنا قليالً‏ عن القضاء؟<br />

ج - الحمدانية هي واحدة من أكرب األقضية يف<br />

محافظة نينوى - شامل العراق،‏ وتضم ثالث مناطق<br />

وعدة قرى.‏ والحمدانية باللغة العربية لها ثالثة<br />

أسامء متميزة؛ واألخرى التي تشتهر بها هي قره<br />

قوش والتي تعني ‏“الطائر األسود”‏ باللغة الرتكية،‏<br />

وبغديدا ‏)باآلرامية(،‏ وهي تبعد 33 كيلومرتاً‏ عن<br />

املوصل،‏ وتعترب تاريخيا قلب املجتمع املسيحي يف<br />

العراق وأكرب مدينة مسيحية يف العراق إذ بلغ عدد<br />

سكانها حوايل 60 ألف نسمة،‏ معظمهم من الرسيان<br />

والكلدان – قبل أن تسيطر عليها الجامعات الجهادية<br />

السنية،‏ وتنظيم الدولة اإلسالمية ‏)داعش(‏ عام 2014<br />

توقف القلب عن النبض ملدة 34 شهرًا عندما<br />

احتلتها خالفة داعش،‏ وواجه مواطنوها قرارًا تعسفياً‏<br />

صارخًا:‏ اما اعتناق اإلسالم أو القتل.‏ وبسبب ذلك<br />

حصل إخالء املنطقة من سكانها يف غضون أيام قليلة.‏<br />

يف عام 2003، بلغ عدد سكان قره قوش حوايل<br />

60 ألف نسمة،‏ لكن 40% من السكان املحليني فروا<br />

تدريجياً‏ من املنطقة بسبب انعدام األمن والتغريات<br />

الدميوغرافية وانعدام فرص العمل.‏ وعانت بلدة<br />

برطلة املجاورة واغلبية سكانها هم من ‏)الرسيان<br />

األرثوذكس(‏ من أصعب التغريات الدميوغرافية،‏ كام<br />

وفقدت مدينة كرمليس الكلدانية التاريخية 70% من<br />

سكانها عىل مر السنني.‏<br />

قبل عام 2014، كانت قره قوش مدينة مزدحمة<br />

وكانت موطنًا ألكرب عدد من السكان املسيحيني يف<br />

البالد بأكملها،‏ وكانت املنطقة سلة غذاء املنطقة،‏<br />

واملعروفة بحقولها الغنية وزراعتها ومزارع الدواجن.‏<br />

كان لدينا 190 مزرعة دواجن،‏ تكفي إلطعام إقليم<br />

كردستان بأكمله وجزء من العراق،‏ ولكن لألسف يبلغ<br />

عدد سكان بخديدا اليوم 25.000-30.000 نسمة.‏ وال<br />

تزال البلدة قيد إعادة اإلعامر،‏ وحوايل نصف سكانها<br />

قد عادوا اليها من مناطق نزوحهم داخل العراق.‏<br />

س - كيف غريت داعش احوال<br />

املنطقة؟<br />

ج - يف منتصف عام 2014، سيطر تنظيم الدولة<br />

اإلسالمية يف العراق والشام ‏)داعش(‏ عىل قضاء<br />

الحمدانية ‏)جنوب رشق املوصل(‏ وألحق أرضارًا باملباين<br />

الحكومية يف مركز القضاء،‏ باإلضافة إىل تدمري وحرق<br />

آالف املنازل واألماكن الدينية.‏ وأجرب غزوهم جميع<br />

مسيحيي املدينة تقريبًا عىل الفرار للنجاة بحياتهم.‏<br />

واحتل داعش يف البداية منزيل وغريه يف الحي الذي<br />

اسكنه واستخدمه كمقر له.‏ وبعد التحرير والعودة<br />

وجدت جدران الدار مليئة بشارات داعش،‏ وأسامء<br />

قادتها مثل ‏)أبو طلحة األملاين(،‏ وأبو فطومة،‏ وغريهم.‏<br />

متت استعادة املنطقة من سيطرة داعش عام<br />

2017، وكانت هذه الجبهة األكرث حسامً‏ يف الحرب<br />

ضد داعش.‏ ويف تحرير قرة قوش واملوصل،‏ حيث فاز<br />

الجيش العراقي يف املعارك الحاسمة،‏ لكن النرص التام<br />

ال يزال بعيد املنال.‏ وإىل أن يتم التغلب عىل الوضع<br />

األمني والفساد واالستغالل والجهل،‏ وبخالف ذلك<br />

ستتمكن العنارص املظلمة من االتجاه صوب دماء<br />

جديدة الستمرار فكرها املظلم.‏<br />

وبعد تحرير املنطقة،‏ بدأ عدد النازحني العائدين<br />

يف التزايد تدريجياً.‏ ولكن مل يعود جميع سكان<br />

املنطقة إىل منازلهم.‏ ويف الوقت الحارض عاد إىل<br />

القضاء 90-100% من العرب والشبك والكاكائيني<br />

والرتكامن ألن إدارة القضاء تعمل عىل محو آثار<br />

حرب داعش وتقديم الخدمات الالزمة لعودة الحياة<br />

الطبيعية إىل الحمدانية واملناطق املجاورة.‏<br />

ونسبة املسيحيني العائدين إىل بخديدا بلغت 60<br />

باملئة،‏ أي أن 40 باملئة منهم مل يعودوا ألنهم ترضروا<br />

ويأسوا أكرث من غريهم بسبب حرب داعش.‏ وفقدت<br />

برطلة معظم سكانها املسيحيني،‏ وفقدت كرمليس<br />

70% من أهلها.‏ ويعيش معظم النازحني يف عنكاوا<br />

ومنطقة إقليم كردستان..‏<br />

س - هل هناك إحصائيات ومتابعات<br />

دقيقة لألرضار التي خلفها داعش؟<br />

ج - عند عودتهم إىل مسقط رأسهم يف قره قوش،‏<br />

مل تجد معظم العائالت املسيحية شيئًا سوى املباين<br />

املحروقة والبنية التحتية املدمرة،‏ إذ عاث تنظيم<br />

MAYOR continued on page 44<br />

38 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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• Teaches them new skills that will help later on, when<br />

they learn to read, write, and do math<br />

• Teaches phonemic awareness, communication and<br />

social skills<br />

• Encourages curiosity, creativity, and independence<br />

• Center-based activities that allow children to play,<br />

while still connecting them to the area of learning<br />

Little<br />

Scholars<br />


September 9, <strong>2024</strong> – June 13, 2025<br />


Morning Session 8:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.<br />

or Afternoon Session 12:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.<br />


• Helps young children transition into Kindergarten<br />

• Enhances the academic, social, and emotional skills<br />

learned in preschool<br />

• Learn concepts in reading, writing, math<br />

and science<br />

• Teaches specific phonics instruction and reading<br />

age-appropriate books<br />

• Encourages curiosity, creativity, and independence<br />

• Center-based activities, small group, and<br />

one-on-one instruction<br />


Morning Session 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.<br />

or Afternoon Session 12:45 – 4:15 p.m.<br />

$100<br />


FEE<br />


Please contact Rachel Hall<br />

at rachel.hall@chaldeanfoundation.org or call (586) 722-7253<br />

3601 15 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48310 | www.chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 39


داعش خرابا يف املدينة خالل احتالله.‏ وال توجد<br />

إحصائيات دقيقة لتحديد حجم األرضار،‏ لكن<br />

بعض املناطق اشتغلت عىل تقييم هذا املوضوع،‏<br />

وتبني أن هناك أرضاراً‏ كبرية لحقت باملباين<br />

الحكومية يف مركز القضاء ‏)بخديدا(‏ باإلضافة إىل<br />

حرق وتدمري خمسة آالف منزل.‏<br />

كام ترضر القطاع الخدمي يف مديريات وقرى<br />

الحمدانية.‏ إذ كان يف الحمدانية أكرث من 180<br />

مزرعة دواجن،‏ ولألسف أصبح أكرث من 150 منها<br />

مدمراً،‏ و‎70‎ باملئة منها مل يتم ترميمها بعد.‏<br />

وتم إعادة تأهيل خطوط نقل الطاقة<br />

الكهربائية،‏ ولكننا نعاين من مشكلة شحة اإلنتاج<br />

مثل بقية مناطق العراق.‏ أما بالنسبة ملياه الرشب،‏<br />

فهناك مرشوع مياه واحد يف الحمدانية كان يزود<br />

يف السابق 50 ألف شخص يف املنطقة باملياه،‏ لكنه<br />

اآلن ال يكفي لسد احتياجات السكان.‏<br />

س - كيف واجهتم تحديات إعادة<br />

البناء؟<br />

ج - بعد التحرير،‏ مل يكن تدهور القطاعات<br />

الخدمية هو املشكلة الوحيدة التي واجهتنا.‏ كانت<br />

املهمة صعبة للغاية،‏ ولكن بدعم من املنظامت<br />

الدولية وباتباع خطة محكمة لتوعية املواطنني،‏<br />

وتضمنت تشكيل مجموعة تضم رجال الدين من<br />

كافة املكونات،‏ وكذلك من خالل مراكز التعليم،‏<br />

متكنا من إعادة التعايش السلمي إىل املنطقة.‏<br />

كان أحد األنشطة األوىل هو إجراء مسح موسع<br />

الحتياجات البلدات والقرى املترضرة.‏ وأظهرت<br />

نتائج االستطالع أن الناس يحتاجون أشياء<br />

أساسية مثل الغذاء والتعليم والتدريب الوظيفي<br />

واالستشارة والتنمية الروحية والوظائف املستقرة.‏<br />

التعليم هو منارة األمل يف قره قوش للمواطنني<br />

العائدين.‏ إذ كان التعليم واملدارس واملعلمني<br />

أساسيني يف املنطقة؛ وكانت مهنة التعليم تاريخيا<br />

أفضل مساهمة ملعلمي القضاء يف ريادة ودعم<br />

التعليم املبكر يف العراق.‏ ان التمكني األكادميي<br />

والتعليم اساسيان يف املصالحة والعيش معًا بسالم،‏<br />

واملجتمع بحاجة اىل مدارس مختلفة وتدريس كل<br />

مادة وكل صف،‏ ولكن بشكل خاص املجموعة<br />

االبتدائية واألصغر سنًا.‏<br />

س – أعطنا نبذة عن مشاكل البنية<br />

التحتية ونقص الخدمات،‏ وسوء<br />

الطرق،‏ وما إىل ذلك؟<br />

ج - يف البداية مل تكن جهود الحكومة باملستوى<br />

املطلوب؛ ولكن مع مرور الوقت ومن خالل ميزانية<br />

تنمية املحافظات تم العمل عىل العديد من مشاريع<br />

املياه والكهرباء.‏ وال أقول إن كل الخدمات متوفرة،‏<br />

لكن الجانب الخدمي اآلن أفضل مقارنة بالفرتة التي<br />

سبقت وصول داعش.‏<br />

وأحدثت التغيريات اإلدارية يف املوصل،‏ بعد 2019،<br />

تغيريا كبريا يف جهود املشاريع مع انطالق حمالت<br />

إعادة اإلعامر يف جميع القطاعات،‏ وخاصة ترميم<br />

مباين القطاع العام،‏ وحالياً‏ نناقش موضوع عودة هيئة<br />

االستثامر ليكون لها دور يف ترسيع إعادة اإلعامر.‏<br />

تم إصالح أو إعادة بناء املؤسسات الرئيسية يف<br />

املنطقة.‏ عىل سبيل املثال تم إعادة بناء مستشفى<br />

الحمدانية وإعادة تأهيله من قبل الوكالة األمريكية<br />

للتنمية الدولية،‏ ويعترب أفضل مستشفى يف منطقة<br />

سهل نينوى ومن أفضل املستشفيات يف العراق،‏<br />

يعمل فيه أكرث من 1800 موظف ويحتوي عىل أقسام<br />

متخصصة مختلفة ‏)الجراحة،‏ طب األسنان،‏ البرصيات،‏<br />

مركز لغسيل الكىل،‏ وغريها من األقسام األساسية(.‏<br />

شبكة وخطوط املياه تعمل بشكل جيد،‏ وتم إعادة<br />

إحياء مرشوع شبكة الرصف الصحي بعد التحرير،‏ إذ<br />

استخدم تنظيم داعش األنفاق شبكة األنفاق الكبرية<br />

لتخزين األسلحة.‏ ويعترب هذا املرشوع األول من نوعه<br />

وأول عمل عام كبري يتم إنجازه يف العراق.‏<br />

ويف قطاع التعليم،‏ تم تجديد وتأهيل معظم<br />

املدارس باإلضافة إىل بناء مدارس جديدة.‏ ولدينا أيضً‏ ا<br />

مدارس خاصة جديدة.‏ وتعمل جامعة الحمدانية<br />

اليوم بكامل طاقتها،‏ وتقدم درجات البكالوريوس يف<br />

مجاالت مختلفة ويتكوّن أعضاء هيئة التدريس فيها<br />

بالكامل من أكادمييني عراقيني.‏ والجامعة تخطط<br />

الستحداث وبدء برامج دراسة املاجستري يف عام 2025<br />

وتخرج كليات الجامعة 30-40 طبيباً‏ و‎40-50‎ مهندساً‏<br />

كل عام؛ وهذا أمر إيجايب،‏ ولكن مع ذلك،‏ يحتاج<br />

الخريجون الجدد إىل وظائف وأماكن عمل.‏<br />

وال يزال القطاع الزراعي الذي يشكل رشيان الحياة<br />

للمنطقة ضعيفاً‏ وقدمياً،‏ والزراعة والري تحتاج إىل رؤية<br />

جديدة وتطبيق اسرتاتيجيات زراعية حديثة ملواكبة<br />

تقنيات القرن الحادي والعرشين وتطوير تقنيات ري<br />

جديدة وتثقيف املزارعني يف رضورة تقنني استخدام<br />

املياه واإلمطار املوسمية وخزن وعدم هدر املياه.‏<br />

س - ماذا عن إعادة بناء الكنائس<br />

واملواقع الدينية املدمرة؟<br />

ج - زيارة البابا عام 2023 وضعت الحمدانية تحت<br />

أضواء وسائل اإلعالم العاملية وكانت عالمة تاريخية<br />

حيث كان واضحاً‏ للبابا فرنسيس مدى إميان الناس<br />

وصمودهم ورغبتهم يف البقاء يف مدن أجدادهم.‏<br />

متت حملة ترميم وإعادة بناء بعض الكنائس<br />

من قبل املنظامت األجنبية واملحلية،‏ ولكن لسوء<br />

الحظ،‏ مل يتم ترميم جميع الكنائس واملواقع الدينية<br />

التي أحرقها ودمرها ارهايب داعش.‏ ومل تحظ هذه<br />

املواقع املهمة يف القضاء باألولوية من قبل املسؤولني<br />

العراقيني.‏ الكنيسة الرئيسية ‏)الطاهرة(‏ يف الحمدانية<br />

وبنايات الدير كانت تستخدم كميدان للرماية<br />

وساحات للتدريب من قبل عصابات داعش.‏<br />

ومن املفرح أن نرى أن كنائس املوصل يتم إعادة<br />

تأهيلها باألموال املخصصة لها من قبل املنظامت<br />

األجنبية،‏ ونأمل أن تخصص الحكومة العراقية<br />

ميزانية إلعادة إعامر األماكن الدينية ضمن ميزانياتها<br />

وخططهااملستقبلية.‏<br />

س - ما مدى أألمان واالستقرار يف<br />

املنطقة؟<br />

ج - قبل داعش،‏ مل نكن نعرف بالضبط من هي<br />

الجهة املسؤولة عن مسك أمن املنطقة،‏ وبعد غزو<br />

داعش يف 6 أغسطس 2014، ظلت املدينة تحت<br />

سيطرة داعش حتى 16 أكتوبر 2016، ولكن منذ<br />

التحرير أصبحت وحدات حامية سهل نينوى متسك<br />

امللف األمني يف املدينة إىل جانب الجيش العراقي.‏<br />

وتم تقديم العديد من املبادرات يف عام 2021<br />

لتوظيف ضباط الرشطة املحليني والرشطة الفيدرالية<br />

واملوظفني العسكريني يف املنطقة.‏ ونتوقع بحلول<br />

األول من يوليو <strong>2024</strong> أن تتوىل قوات الحكومة<br />

االتحادية امللف األمني بشكل كامل.‏<br />

س - هل ميكنك أن تخربنا عن حاالت<br />

النزوح وعودة الالجئني؟<br />

ج - أعتقد أننا قطعنا شوطاً‏ كبرياً‏ يف هذا املجال،‏<br />

والدليل عىل ذلك هو فشل داعش يف خلق بيئة<br />

حاضنة جديدة وتنفيذ العمليات اإلرهابية يف املنطقة<br />

بعد تحريرها،‏ إال يف بعض الحاالت النادرة.‏ وهذا دليل<br />

عىل تعاون أهايل املنطقة مع األجهزة األمنية.‏<br />

وبالتأكيد أن استمرار املساعدات املقدمة للمواطنني،‏<br />

وخاصة املزارعني،‏ سيساعدهم عىل العودة والبقاء<br />

وإنعاش األرايض الزراعية،‏ وسيساهم يف عودة االستقرار<br />

والعيش املشرتك.‏ ولعبت منظامت املجتمع الدويل دوراً‏<br />

بارزاً‏ يف هذا الشأن من خالل برامجها وخرباتها ومنح<br />

القروض الصغرية،‏ مثل تلك املمنوحة اآلن للمزارعني،‏<br />

لالهتامم بالقطاع الزراعي يف مناطقهم.‏<br />

س - ماذا عن مصادرة األرايض<br />

والتغيريات الدميغرافية؟<br />

ج - كان رشاء وبيع األرايض واملنازل واملمتلكات<br />

نادرا قبل فرتة داعش.‏ وكانت أرايض بخديدا خطاً‏<br />

أحمر لكل من تجرأ عىل املساس بها،‏ ولكن برطلة<br />

كانت وال تزال قضية شائكة حيث تم بيع العقارات<br />

لغري املسيحيني.‏ وبرطلة،‏ التي تقع يف قلب املنطقة<br />

املسيحية يف العراق،‏ هي مشكلة معقدة مع استمرار<br />

النزاعات حول هوية املدينة.‏ برطلة هي مدينة<br />

مسيحية تاريخية،‏ ذكرت ألول مرة يف عام 1153 بعد<br />

امليالد،‏ وهي موطن لكثري من املسيحيني الرسيان<br />

األرثوذكس والشبك،‏ وهم مجموعة ذات أصل عرقي<br />

متنازع عليه،‏ ولكنها عموما مرتبطة باألكراد.‏<br />

عندما توليت منصبي كرئيس للبلدية،‏ عملت بشكل<br />

وثيق مع األحزاب السياسية املحلية ‏)الحركة الدميقراطية<br />

اآلشورية،‏ وحركة التحالف الرسياين وغريها(،‏ وتعاملت<br />

مع إدارات سجالت األرايض يف الحمدانية واملوصل،‏<br />

واستعنت باملادة ‏-‏‎23‎ب من الدستور العراقي وتفسري<br />

املحكمة العليا ‏)قرار رقم 65 لسنة 2013( بشأن<br />

الحفاظ عىل حقوق األقليات واملكونات يف إقليمهم ويف<br />

األرايض التي تعود لهم،‏ وأن توطني الغرباء يجب أن<br />

يكون أن يكون فقط من خالل الحصول عىل املوافقات<br />

القانونية الالزمة من قائم مقامية القضاء.‏<br />

إن مقاومة التغريات الدميوغرافية والتمسك<br />

بالقانون تتطلب العزمية واإلرادة اإلدارية.‏ وانا اعتربت<br />

قرار املحكمة العليا مبثابة قانون مركزي ورأي ثابت<br />

ضد محاوالت التغريات الدميغرافية.‏ ومن األمثلة<br />

الحديثة عىل ذلك حالة أحد الشبك الذي اشرتى عقارًا<br />

سكنيًا من شبك آخر دون اتباع اإلجراءات القانونية<br />

الواجبة ورفع دعوى قضائية ضدي يف محكمة<br />

املوصل.‏ ونرصة للحق والحقوق أسقطت محكمة<br />

نزاهة املوصل القضية وانحازت إيل جانبي يف رأي<br />

قضايئ تاريخي أصدرته بتاريخ 15 نيسان <strong>2024</strong><br />

س - ماذا عن حريق قاعة األعراس<br />

يف قره قوش وأين توصل التحقيق؟<br />

ج - اندلع حريق هائل يف قاعة أفراح الهيثم يف<br />

ناحية الحمدانية،‏ بتاريخ 26 أو 27 سبتمرب 2023،<br />

وأدى إىل مقتل 122 شخصاً‏ وإصابة العرشات وكثرياً‏<br />

ما يقع اللوم عىل معايري السالمة،‏ وال يتم مراعاتها<br />

بشكل جيد يف العراق،‏ الذي عاىن من عقود من سوء<br />

اإلدارة والفساد.‏<br />

قاعة األفراح التي احرتقت يف الحمدانية كانت<br />

تتسع ل 500 شخص،‏ لكن ضعف العدد كان بداخلها<br />

عندما اندلع الحريق.‏ كام أنها ‏“خالية من أبواب<br />

الطوارئ”.‏ ويف كثري من األحيان ال يتم اتباع تعليامت<br />

السالمة يف العراق،‏ وخاصة يف قطاعي البناء والنقل،‏<br />

مام يؤدي يف كثري من األحيان إىل حرائق وكوارث<br />

مميتة.‏<br />

وكان الخطاب الرسمي حول املأساة أنها ‏“عرضية<br />

وقضاء وقدر الله 100%”، وأن السبب الرئييس<br />

للحادث هو إطالق األلعاب النارية داخل القاعة عىل<br />

ارتفاع يتجاوز أربعة أمتار من أربع آالت.‏ وخلصت<br />

لجنة التحقيق إىل أن هذه األلعاب النارية أدت<br />

إىل احرتاق السقف الذي بني من مواد ‏“شديدة<br />

االشتعال وممنوعة”‏ باإلضافة إىل مواد ديكور ومواد<br />

صنعت منها ستائر القاعة،‏ وجميعها شديدة االشتعال.‏<br />

كام بينت لجنة التحقيق وجود ‏“كميات كبرية من<br />

املرشوبات الكحولية”‏ ما ساعد عىل ترسيع انتشار<br />

الحريق!‏<br />

ويف الحقيقة مل تكن نتائج التحقيق مرضية ألرس<br />

الضحايا أبداً‏ وامتألت املشاعر بالشكوك والغضب،‏<br />

سيام وأن التحقيق تم بصورة رسيعة واستنتاج<br />

النتيجة عىل عجل من قبل أفراد عسكريني،‏ دون<br />

مشاركة خرباء دوليني.‏ وشعبنا يعتقد أن هناك تسرتاً،‏<br />

وأن التحقيق ملوث مبصالح سياسية مؤثرة وبسبب<br />

ذلك خرجت مظاهرات حاشدة يف قره قوش،‏ ضد<br />

القوى السياسية،‏ مطالبة بإعادة التحقيق يف حريق<br />

املأساة وعىل رأس القامئة التحقيق يف ملفات القوى<br />

املسيطرة عىل أمن املنطقة،‏ وأن يتوىل امللف األمني<br />

أعضاء السلطة القضائية حرصاً.‏<br />

يف هذه املأساة فقدت إحدى أخوايت باإلضافة إىل 9<br />

من أبناء عمومتي وزوجاتهم.‏ ولغاية اليوم لدينا عدد كبري<br />

من الحاالت املحروقة التي ال ميكن عالجها يف العراق.‏<br />

س - هل لديكم أي إضافة تريدون<br />

مشاركتها مع قراء مجلة اخبار<br />

الكلدان ‏)كالديان نيوز(؟<br />

أشكركم للمقابلة وأود أن أقول ‏“ان الخوف أقوى<br />

من السالح”‏ وبسبب ذلك يعاين السكان املحليني من<br />

القلق املستمر والعديد من املشاكل التي سبسبها عدم<br />

االستقرار منذ 2003 وفرتات احتالل داعش،‏ وتعد<br />

الهجرة وفقدان السكان من أصعب التحديات التي<br />

تواجه املدينة اليوم إضافة اىل استتاب األمن وإنعاش<br />

االقتصاد املحيل وإبعاد منطقة سهل نينوى عن<br />

مناكفاتالسياساتاملحلية وسطوة قواتامليليشيات.‏<br />

أولوياتنا هي األمن وسيادة القانون وبناء<br />

العالقات املجتمعية وتوفري بيئة أعامل مستقرة<br />

وتطوير االقتصاد املحيل ومتكني الناس واستعادة<br />

األمل والتعاون املجتمعي والعمل عىل الحصول<br />

عىل الدعم الحكومي.‏ ويبدو أن حكومة دولة رئيس<br />

الوزراء محمد شياع السوداين الحالية جادة ومنظمة<br />

وأصدرت القرار رقم 25-230 بتشكيل لجنة لدراسة<br />

وحل النزاعات عىل األرايض.‏ وبعد زيارته األخرية<br />

للواليات املتحدة يف أبريل،‏ أصدر رئيس الوزراء<br />

املرسوم اإلداري رقم 235-23 لتنفيذ قرارات املحكمة<br />

العليا وشكل لجنة جديدة للتعامل مع شكاوى<br />

املكونات يف القضاء.‏<br />

وبشكل عام،‏ ميكننا القول إن التقدم يحصل وأن<br />

90 باملائة من الدوائر واملؤسسات الحكومية يف املنطقة<br />

عادت إىل عملها تستمر املنطقة يف جذب اإلعجاب<br />

واإلشادة من السياسيني املحليني والزوار الدوليني..و<br />

املصادر:‏ عصام بهنام متي،‏ تلفزيون زاغروس.‏ كتابات<br />

محمد طالل النعيمي،‏ ديفيد غرينت،‏ يب يب يس نيوز<br />

MAYOR continued from page 42<br />

40 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


GED<br />

SEPTEMBER 9, <strong>2024</strong> – JANUARY 24, 2025<br />

In-person classes that allow students to learn the information<br />

to pass their GED test (General Education Development Test or<br />

high school equivalency).<br />

Offered in the four subjects needed to pass the GED:<br />

• Math<br />

• Science<br />

• Social Studies<br />

• Reading Language Arts<br />

Perfect for individuals hoping to advance in their careers or attend college!<br />


Books, materials, and testing costs included.<br />

To register, contact Rachel Hall<br />

at rachel.hall@chaldeanfoundation.org or call (586) 722-7253<br />

Math<br />

Monday – Thursday | 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.<br />

Reading Language Arts<br />

Monday, Wednesday, Friday | 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.<br />

Winter semester: Science and Social Studies<br />

3601 15 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48310 | www.chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 41


Left: The Hayyat tattoo on the<br />

left wrist says, “life” in Arabic.<br />

Above: Kurdish Dagga on a<br />

woman’s hand.<br />

From Grandma’s Daggas<br />

to Today’s Tattoos<br />


“<br />

In Iraq, even tattoos have a conflicted<br />

past and present.” So<br />

starts a 2023 essay by Ahmed<br />

Windi titled, “Our Inked Grandmothers.”<br />

His two grandmothers had traditional<br />

tattoos and his mother – born<br />

in the 1960s – did not. So naturally, he<br />

had questions.<br />

The word “tattoo” is said to have<br />

originated from the Tahitian word<br />

“tatu,” which means to mark something.<br />

Lines and Dots<br />

In ancient Egypt, tattoos above the<br />

eyes were common because of the belief<br />

that they strengthened eyesight.<br />

The Greeks used them as evidence of<br />

treason; spies had identifying tattoos<br />

drawn on their bodies. The Romans<br />

also used them in wrestling arenas,<br />

where each wrestler was tattooed with<br />

Caption<br />

a figure of the animal he was wrestling.<br />

The Pharaohs have been familiar<br />

with tattoos for thousands of years.<br />

They were used on women for cosmetic<br />

purposes in the absence of colored<br />

powders, especially around the eyebrows<br />

and lips to darken and enlarge<br />

them and the neck, where they were<br />

pricked with needles in the form of a<br />

wide necklace.<br />

One of the most important benefits<br />

or benefits of the origin of tattoos is<br />

that they serve as a means of healing<br />

for religious people. For example, ancient<br />

Egypt and India used tattoos as<br />

healing techniques. It is believed that<br />

tattoos around the fingers and wrist<br />

area of the body chase disease away<br />

from the wearer.<br />

Tattooing moved from the Mediterranean<br />

basin to England, where it<br />

spread among members of the ruling<br />

family before the practice moved to<br />

mainland Europe. In the 19th century,<br />

sailors of the Royal Fleet used to tattoo<br />

the turtle on those who crossed<br />

the equator and the anchor tattoo on<br />

those who crossed the Atlantic. If they<br />

reached China, the dragon tattoo was<br />

the reward.<br />

The art of tattoo appeared in Japan<br />

around 500 BC, where it was used for<br />

cosmetic and religious purposes specific<br />

to the Japanese, or as a punishment<br />

for criminals. Russian tzars used<br />

to tattoo prisoners according to their<br />

crimes and punishments, just as the<br />

Nazis tattooed their prisoners with serial<br />

numbers in concentration camps<br />

during World War II.<br />

In Iraq<br />

Although many religions prohibit the<br />

practice of tattooing, most Chaldean<br />

grandfathers and grandmothers bore<br />

tattoos on their bodies even though<br />

they were deeply religious. Tattoos<br />

in Iraq were popular from the 1880s<br />

through the 1960s. Women used tattoos<br />

in lieu of makeup, and Iraqi men<br />

had limbs tattooed to lend strength to<br />

their arms and legs.<br />

Tattooing, or “Dagga” as it is called<br />

locally in Iraq, was a social phenomenon.<br />

“Dagga” or “Dakka” means<br />

“taps;” it stands for the actual act of<br />

tattooing, where the tattoo artists use<br />

a series of taps to puncture the skin so<br />

the color can penetrate.<br />

For a long time, mothers were<br />

keen to send their daughters to the<br />

“Daggaga” to get tattooed so that they<br />

would look beautiful and striking, and<br />

preserve the values of the tribe, which<br />

they saw as an adornment and a common<br />

custom.<br />

Dagga Al-Khaza’aliyah is a type<br />

of tattoo that was very widespread<br />

for women in southern Iraq. It is a<br />

stroke between the lower lip and the<br />

chin, or on their hands and eyebrows.<br />

Women from various tribes are distinguished<br />

by the types of Daggas they<br />

are adorned with.<br />

Social norms previously considered<br />

the phenomenon of tattoos or<br />

“Dagga” worn by women to be part<br />

of their identity and heritage, but this<br />

view began to decline, especially after<br />

the rise of the religious tide which<br />

greatly affected some customs and<br />

considered them forbidden.<br />

The most common tattoos for<br />

women pre-1960s were the “nonah,”<br />

a small circular shape between the<br />

eyes inspired by the Hindu “bindi;”<br />

marks on the tip of the nose, upper<br />

lip, and chin; a dotted mark from the<br />

chin down, called “the trail of ants;”<br />

or three dots in the form of a lineless<br />

triangle on the hand, representing life,<br />

family, and health.<br />

Men would typically get one or two<br />

42 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

Iraqi Folklore - Dagga Khaza’aliyah<br />

We often hear about “the beloved’s hand is an Al-<br />

Khaza’aliyah’s hand,” especially in old classic<br />

folklore songs. Why this proverb or song, and<br />

what was a specific story behind it or reason for naming it?<br />

Why did poets and artists sing it and why did they do so?<br />

Many stories exist in Iraqi folklore to explain the history<br />

of Dagga. A popular story is connected to the time<br />

of Prince Hamad Al Hamoud, Sheikh Al-Khaza’al clan in<br />

Southern Iraq, who was an opponent of the Ottoman occupation<br />

and fought many wars with the Turkish army<br />

during his time. The disputes went forth and back but in a<br />

decisive battle with the Ottomans, Prince Hamad achieved<br />

a brilliant victory.<br />

Every great battle or tribal fight is called in the Iraqi dialect<br />

“Al-Dagga;” poets celebrate victories, singers chant the heroics,<br />

and travelers claim that the songs celebrating the Battle of<br />

Bin Hamoud were a great defeat of the Ottoman army.<br />

Another story is that the British High Commissioner<br />

in Iraq considered Sheikh Khaza’al a troublemaker rather<br />

than an ally. A historic catastrophe occurred when a conspiracy<br />

was hatched between the British and Persians on<br />

a night in 1925.<br />

That night, the Persian military commander-in-chief,<br />

who had a personal friendship with Sheikh Khaza’al, conspired<br />

to host him on board a Persian boat (Khuzestan)<br />

decorated with flags and illuminated by lights. He<br />

charmed the Shiekh with sweet words that concealed betrayal<br />

and treachery, just as the boat concealed its departure<br />

from Shat Al-Arab port. The conspirators quickly led<br />

him into exile in Tehran.<br />

The British deception of Sheikh Khaza’al and the historic<br />

catastrophe became a popular example and a sad<br />

symbol of treachery and betrayal. Consequently, in the<br />

thirties, a tragic song was composed and sung by the singer<br />

Badriya Anwar.<br />

The poets said at first “Ya-Daggat bin Hamoud Dagga<br />

Khaza’aliya,” but it was later changed to “Ya -Daggat al-<br />

Mahboob Dagga Khaza’aliya.”<br />

Several famous artists have sung this beautiful song,<br />

such as Nazim Al-Ghazali, Salima Murad, Youssef Omar,<br />

Fouad Salem, Hamza Al-Saadawi, and many others, because<br />

of the beauty of the words and the sincerity of feelings.<br />

The pleading words of the song continue to echo to<br />

this day in Iraqi folklore to signal betrayal: “Khaia, Sister,<br />

the passer-by will not accept carrying my message” and “I<br />

do not want them, nor do I want to see them come to me,<br />

the beloved bench hurts too much” and thus it is “Dagga<br />

Khaza’aliya.”<br />

dots on the face, indicating a<br />

struggle, dots for each family<br />

member on the upper back, or<br />

name tattoos, sometimes religious<br />

(Allah, Mohammed, etc).<br />

The year 1963 marked a<br />

turning point in Iraq around<br />

the outlook on many ancient<br />

customs, a period of coups and<br />

turmoil that struck society together<br />

with the rise of religious<br />

trends that swept through society.<br />

The generations that used<br />

to get tattoos stopped doing so<br />

after the early sixties.<br />

After 2003 in Iraq, beauty<br />

centers and salons where tattoos<br />

could be attained were<br />

subject to closure due to the<br />

spread of extremist religious<br />

ideas.<br />

Tattoos and Religion<br />

Tattoos were used to expel spirits,<br />

fight the devil, eliminate<br />

black magic, protect against<br />

envy, and were used to treat<br />

some diseases. African tribes used<br />

them in the form of signs and symbols<br />

on the body as an identification test in<br />

societies that did not read. The tattoo<br />

was used to distinguish a person and<br />

introduce others to him and his tribe.<br />

It was used in ceremonies on some<br />

occasions, such as marriage, harvest<br />

holidays, and during wars.<br />

Tattooing was considered a primitive<br />

act committed by traditional societies.<br />

This emphasis and persuasion<br />

led to the gradual decline of tattooing<br />

in Europe. The significant decline was<br />

driven by Emperor Constantine’s banning<br />

of tattoos. He believed that the<br />

human body was created in the image<br />

and likeness of God and should not be<br />

destroyed by tattoos.<br />

The decline in tattoo geology has<br />

been attributed to Christian missionaries,<br />

who advocated against tattoo<br />

awareness in various circles. They<br />

convinced community members<br />

not to have their bodies<br />

penetrated, viewing tattoos on<br />

oneself as unholy deeds that<br />

should not be entertained.<br />

In the Holy Land<br />

In the Old City of Jerusalem, a<br />

centuries-old tradition of tattooing<br />

goes back in written records<br />

to at least the 1600s and<br />

quite possibly much earlier.<br />

The Razzouk family brought<br />

the art of tattooing with them<br />

from Egypt to Palestine five<br />

centuries ago. They came to<br />

the Holy Land for a pilgrimage<br />

but stayed for trade. Since this<br />

art has been in the family for<br />

700 hundred years, starting in<br />

Egypt, the family began tattooing<br />

pilgrims for a living.<br />

In the tattoo/coffin-making<br />

shop of Jacob Razzouk, you will<br />

find designs of wood blocks<br />

unique in character that were<br />

carved with various designs,<br />

mostly Coptic Christian. Prominent<br />

among them is, of course, the Jerusalem<br />

cross. Pilgrims to the Holy City<br />

have used it for centuries to commemorate<br />

their journeys – even pilgrims<br />

such as King Edward VII of England<br />

and King Frederik IX of Denmark.<br />

The Razzouk ancestors used tat-<br />


continued on page 47<br />


<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 43


دكًة الجدات ووشم السيدات<br />

بقلم د عضيد مريي<br />

‏“يف العراق،‏ حتى الوشم له مايض وحارض<br />

متضاربان”‏ هكذا يبدأ مقال الكاتب أحمد ويندي<br />

الصادر عام 2023 بعنوان ‏“وشم جداتنا”،‏ إذ كان<br />

لدى كال جدتيه وشم تقليدي،‏ بينام مل يكن لدى<br />

والدته – املولودة يف الستينيات – أي وشم،‏ ومن<br />

الطبيعي أن هذا دعا اىل فضوله وتساؤالته؟ ويقال<br />

إن كلمة ‏“وشم”‏ نشأت من الكلمة التاهيتية ‏“تاتو”،‏<br />

والتي تعني وضع عالمة عىل يشء ما.‏<br />

الخطوط والنقاط<br />

يف مرص القدمية،‏ كان الوشم فوق العينني شائعاً‏<br />

العتقادهم بأنه يقوي البرص،‏ واستخدمها اليونانيون<br />

كدليل عىل الخيانة؛ حيث كان لدى الجواسيس وشم<br />

مرسوم عىل أجسادهم،‏ كام استخدمها الرومان يف<br />

ساحات املصارعة،‏ حيث كان يتم وشم كل مصارع<br />

بصورة الحيوان الذي كان يصارعه.‏<br />

لقد عرف الفراعنة الوشم منذ آالف السنني.‏<br />

واستخدمت عىل النساء ألغراض تجميلية مع غياب<br />

املساحيق امللونة،‏ خاصة حول الحواجب والشفاه<br />

لتغميقها وتكبريها وكذلك حول الرقبة،‏ حيث تم<br />

وخزها بإبر عىل شكل قالدة واسعة.‏<br />

ويف املعتقدات الطبية القدمية فإن من أهم<br />

فوائد أو فوائد أصل الوشم أنه مبثابة وسيلة شفاء<br />

للمؤمنني واملتدينني.‏ عىل سبيل املثال،‏ استخدمت<br />

مرص والهند القدمية الوشم كتقنيات عالجية،‏ وكان<br />

يعتقدون أن الوشم حول األصابع ومنطقة املعصم<br />

من الجسم يطرد املرض بعيدا عمن له وشم يرتديه.‏<br />

انتقل الوشم من حوض البحر األبيض املتوسط<br />

إىل إنجلرتا،‏ حيث انترش بني أفراد األرسة الحاكمة<br />

قبل أن تنتقل املامرسة إىل قارة أوروبا ويف القرن<br />

التاسع عرش،‏ وكان بحارة األسطول املليك يرسمون<br />

وشم السلحفاة عىل من يعربون خط االستواء،‏ ووشم<br />

املرساة عىل من يعربون املحيط األطليس،‏ وإذا وصلوا<br />

إىل الصني،‏ كان وشم التنني هو املكافأة الثمينة عىل<br />

أجسادهم.‏ ويف البداية،‏ كان الوشم يف الواليات<br />

املتحدة عالمةاً‏ للبحارة والطبقات الدنيا.‏<br />

وظهر فن الوشم يف اليابان حوايل عام 500 قبل<br />

امليالد،‏ حيث تم استخدامه ألغراض تجميلية ودينية<br />

خاصة باليابانيني،‏ أو كعقاب للمجرمني،‏ ويف روسيا<br />

اعتاد القيارصة الروس عىل رسم الوشم عىل السجناء<br />

بحسب جرامئهم وعقوباتهم،‏ متاماً‏ كام قام النازيون<br />

بوشم سجنائهم اليهود وغريهم بأرقام تسلسلية يف<br />

معسكرات االعتقال خالل الحرب العاملية الثانية.‏<br />

يف العراق<br />

عىل الرغم من أن العديد من الديانات تحظر مامرسة<br />

الوشم،‏ إال أن معظم األجداد والجدات الكلدانيني كانوا<br />

يحملون الوشم عىل أجسادهم واجسادهن عىل الرغم<br />

من أنهم كانوا متدينني بشدة.‏ كان الوشم يف العراق<br />

شائعًا منذ مثانينيات القرن التاسع عرش وحتى ستينيات<br />

القرن العرشين.‏ استخدمت النساء الوشم بدالً‏ من<br />

املكياج،‏ وكان الرجال العراقيون يقومون بوشم أطرافهم<br />

إلضافة سامت القوة عىل أذرعهم وأرجلهم.‏<br />

وكان الوشم،‏ أو ‏“الدكة”‏ كام يُطلق عليه محلياً‏<br />

يف العراق،‏ ظاهرة اجتامعية،‏ حيث يستخدم فنانوا<br />

الوشم سلسلة من رضبات ووخز األبر لثقب الجلد<br />

حتى يتمكن اللون من اخرتاقه واالستقرار تحت طبقة<br />

الجلد.‏ ولفرتة طويلة،‏ حرصت األمهات عىل إرسال<br />

بناتهن إىل ‏“الدكًاكًة”‏ الخبرية لرسم الوشم حتى يبدوا<br />

جميالت وملفتات للنظر،‏ ويحافظن عىل قيم القبيلة<br />

التي يرونها زينة وعادات عامة ذات أهمية.‏<br />

وتتميز النساء من مختلف القبائل يف انحاء<br />

العراق بأنواع وهندسة الدكًة التي يتزينن بها.‏ ومنها<br />

ال ‏“دكًة الخزعلية”‏ التي هي نوع من الوشم منترش<br />

بشكل كبري بني النساء يف جنوب العراق.‏ وهي عادة<br />

ثالثة نقاط ‏)نونه(‏ تقع بني الشفة السفىل والذقن،‏ أو<br />

عىل اليدين والحاجبني.‏ وكانت األعراف االجتامعية يف<br />

السابق تعترب ظاهرة الوشم أو ‏“الدكًة”‏ التي ترتديها<br />

املرأة جزءا من هويتها وتراثها،‏ لكن هذه النظرة<br />

بدأت يف الرتاجع،‏ خاصة بعد صعود املد الديني الذي<br />

أثر بشكل كبري عىل بعض العادات واعتربها محرمة.‏<br />

كان الوشم األكرث شيوعًا للنساء يف فرتة ما قبل<br />

الستينيات هو ‏“النونة”،‏ وهو شكل دائري صغري بني<br />

العينني مستوحى من ‏“بيندي”‏ الهندوسية؛ وهي<br />

تشمل عالمات عىل طرف األنف والشفة العليا<br />

والذقن،‏ أو عالمة منقطة من الذقن إىل األسفل،‏<br />

تسمى “ أثر النمل”‏ أو ثالث نقاط عىل شكل مثلث<br />

بال خط عىل اليد متثل الحياة واألرسة والصحة.‏ وعادةً‏<br />

ما يضع الرجال عىل نقطة أو نقطتني عىل الوجه،‏ مام<br />

يشري إىل رصاع،‏ أو نقاط لكل فرد من أفراد األرسة<br />

يف الجزء العلوي من الظهر،‏ أو وشم باسم شخصية<br />

مهمة،‏ وأحيانًا دينية ‏)الله،‏ محمد،‏ إلخ(.‏<br />

شكل عام 1963 نقطة تحول يف العراق حول<br />

تقييم النظر إىل العديد من العادات القدمية،‏<br />

وهي فرتة تعدد فيها االنقالبات واالضطرابات<br />

التي رضبت املجتمع مع ظهور االتجاهات الدينية<br />

التي اجتاحت الحياة املجتمعية وتوقفت األجيال<br />

التي اعتادت الحصول عىل الوشم عن القيام بذلك<br />

بعد أوائل الستينيات،‏ وبعد عام 2003 يف العراق،‏<br />

تعرضت مراكز التجميل والصالونات التي ميكن<br />

رسم الوشم فيها لإلغالق بسبب انتشار األفكار<br />

الدينية املتطرفة والتهديد والقتل.‏<br />

الوشم والدين<br />

تم استخدام الوشم لتمييز الشخص وتعريف اآلخرين<br />

به وبقبيلته،‏ وكان يستخدم يف مراسيم االحتفاالت ويف<br />

بعض املناسبات كالزواج وأعياد الحصاد وأثناء الحروب.‏<br />

وكان الوشم يستخدم لطرد األرواح ومحاربة الشيطان<br />

والقضاء عىل السحر األسود والحامية من الحسد،‏<br />

ويستخدم لعالج بعض األمراض.‏ واستخدمتها القبائل<br />

اإلفريقية عىل شكل إشارات ورموز عىل الجسد كاختبار<br />

لتحديد الهوية يف املجتمعات البدائية التي ال تقرأ.‏<br />

وكان الوشم يعترب عمالً‏ بدائياً‏ تقوم به املجتمعات<br />

التقليدية،‏ وأدى هذا الرتكيز واإلقناع إىل الرتاجع<br />

التدريجي للوشم يف أوروبا.‏ وكان الدافع وراء هذا<br />

االنخفاض الكبري هو حظر اإلمرباطور قسطنطني للوشم،‏<br />

إذ كان يعتقد أن جسم اإلنسان مخلوق عىل صورة الله<br />

ومثاله وال ينبغي تدمريه بالعالمات والوشم.‏<br />

يُعزى االنخفاض يف جيولوجيا الوشم إىل املبرشين<br />

املسيحيني،‏ الذين دافعوا عن مبادراتهم بالتوعية ضد<br />

وضع الوشم يف مختلف املحافل واالجتامعات وأقنعوا<br />

أفراد املجتمع بعدم اخرتاق األمور الغريبة أجسادهم،‏<br />

واعتربوا الوشم عىل أنفسهم مبثابة أعامل غري مقدسة ال<br />

ينبغي تشجيعها والقيام بها.‏<br />

يف األرض املقدسة<br />

يعود تقليد الوشم الذي تشري السجالت املكتوبة<br />

إىل القرن السابع عرش عىل األقل ورمبا قبل ذلك<br />

بكثري يف األرايض املقدسة والبلدة القدمية يف<br />

القدس وفيها يقع اليوم محل قديم عريق لفن<br />

الوشم/صناعة التوابيت التابع ليعقوب رزوق،‏<br />

حيث جلبت عائلة رزوق فن الوشم معهم من<br />

مرص إىل فلسطني منذ خمسة قرون حني جاؤوا إىل<br />

األرايض املقدسة للحج لكنهم بقوا للتجارة.‏<br />

ومبا أن هذا الفن موجود يف أجيال من األرسة<br />

منذ 700 مائة عام،‏ بدءًا من مرص،‏ بدأت األرسة<br />

لكسب لقمة العيش يف رسم الوشم للحجاج<br />

املقدسيني الذين يزورون القدس.‏<br />

والزائر سيجد يف محل الوشم/صناعة التوابيت<br />

التابع ليعقوب رزوق تصميامت للكتل الخشبية<br />

فريدة من نوعها تم نحتها بتصميامت متنوعة أغلبها<br />

مسيحية قبطية،‏ وأبرزها بالطبع صليب القدس الذي<br />

استخدمه املقدسيني ‏)حجاج القدس(‏ إىل املدينة<br />

املقدسة ولعدة قرون كرمز إمياين إلحياء ذكرى<br />

رحالتهم ومنهم مشاهري مثل امللك إدوارد السابع<br />

ملك إنجلرتا وامللك فريدريك التاسع ملك الدمنارك.‏<br />

استخدم أسالف رزوق الوشم لتمييز األقباط<br />

املسيحيني يف مرص بصليب صغري عىل الجزء الداخيل<br />

من املعصم ملنحهم إمكانية الوصول إىل الكنائس،‏<br />

ومن ال ميلكها كان يواجه صعوبة يف دخول الكنيسة؛<br />

لذلك،‏ منذ سن مبكرة جدًا ‏)أحيانًا حتى بضعة أشهر(‏<br />

كان املسيحيون يقومون بوشم أطفالهم بالصليب<br />

الذي يشري إىل أنهم أقباط.‏<br />

قوة هذه األوشام تأيت من القصص التي يعرفونها<br />

ويروونها ذات صلة بهم،‏ وهناك يشء سحري يف<br />

معرفة أن العمل الفني الذي يتم نقشه بشكل دائم<br />

عىل الجسد هو نفس العمل الفني الذي كان وشمهُ‏<br />

وامتلكه شخص ما منذ مئات السنني أيضً‏ ا.‏<br />

أحد أشهر انواع الوشم هو صليب القدس بسبب<br />

معناه التاريخي العميق،‏ حيث ميثل رمز الصليب<br />

املركزي مدينة القدس كمركز للعامل،‏ ومتثل زوايا األطراف<br />

األربعة عىل الصلبان املسيحية املنترشة يف أركان العامل<br />

األربعة.‏ وعندما يأيت املقدسيون من جميع أنحاء العامل،‏<br />

ويتم وشمهم بعالمة الصليب يصبحون جزءًا من<br />

القدس،‏ وتصبح القدس جزءًا منهم.‏<br />

الوشم اليوم<br />

عىل الرغم من أن الوشم الدائم محظور مبوجب<br />

الرشيعة اإلسالمية،‏ إال أنه خالل فرتات الحروب يف<br />

العراق،‏ قام العديد من الرجال بوشم أسامئهم عىل<br />

أجسادهم ألغراض التعرف عليهم يف حاالت الرضورة<br />

واملوت إذا مل ينجوا من الرصاع.‏<br />

بعد الغزو األمرييك عام 2003، أصبح من املمكن<br />

رؤية نوع مختلف من الوشم عىل الشباب العراقي،‏<br />

وأصبح فن الوشم،‏ املستوحى من العضلة ذات الرأسني<br />

املوشومة للجنود األمريكيني،‏ نوعًا مختلفًا من التعبري<br />

عن الذات وتقليد شائع.‏ ومن الظواهر املجتمعية<br />

الحديثة،‏ نجد بعض النساء العراقيات لديهن وشم<br />

للحواجب،‏ ووشم للشفاه،‏ وككحل للعيون.‏<br />

األمور الفنية واملجتمعية تغريت اآلن،‏ نظرًا<br />

للتقنيات الحديثة ومستوى الوعي يف العرص الحديث<br />

وحقيقة أن حرفيي الوشم أصبحوا أكرث قدرة وفناً‏<br />

وحرصاً،‏ فقد تحرك منط ولون ونوع الوشم ليصبح لوحة<br />

فنية واختيار فردي.‏ يف أوروبا الرجال أكرث تقبالً‏ للوشم،‏<br />

وخاصة املشاهري منهم وأصبح الوشم الفرعوين شائعا<br />

بني مشاهري العامل بحسب صحيفة الحياة اللندنية.‏<br />

الرتاث الشعبي العراقي - دكًة خزعليه<br />

كثريًا ما نسمع عن ‏“الدكًة الخزعليّة”،‏ خصوصً‏ ا<br />

يف األغاين الفلكلورية القدمية.‏ ومنا من يسأل،‏ ملاذا<br />

هذا املثل أو األغنية وما هي القصة املحددة وراءها<br />

أو سبب تسميتها وملاذا تغنى بها الشعراء والفنانون<br />

وملاذا فعلوا ذلك؟<br />

توجد العديد من القصص يف الرتاث الشعبي<br />

العراقي لرشح تاريخ الدكة.‏ قصة شعبية ترتبط بزمن<br />

األمري حمد الحمود،‏ شيخ عشرية الخزاعل يف جنوب<br />

العراق،‏ الذي كان معارضاً‏ لالحتالل العثامين،‏ وخاض يف<br />

زمانه حروباً‏ كثرية ضد الجيش الرتيك،‏ دارت رحاها ذهابًا<br />

وإيابًا،‏ لكن يف معركة حاسمة مع العثامنيني،‏ حقق<br />

األمري حمد نرصًا رائعًا،‏ وبسبب تلك املعركة يقال إن<br />

كل معركة أو قتال عشائري تسمى يف اللهجة العراقية<br />

‏“الدكًة”.‏ فيحتفل الشعراء عادة باالنتصارات،‏ وينشد<br />

املغنون البطوالت،‏ وكانت أغاين االحتفال بالنرص يف<br />

معركة بن حمود مبثابة هزمية كبرية للجيش العثامين<br />

و”دكًة خزعليه”‏ كبرية نسبة لعشرية الخزاعل البرصية.‏<br />

وقصة أخرى ‏“للدكًة الخزعلية”‏ تعود اىل حقيقة<br />

أن املندوب السامي الربيطاين يف العراق بعد الحرب<br />

العاملية األوىل اعترب شيخ املحمرة ‏)خزعل الكعبي(‏<br />

مثريا للمشاكل وليس حليفا للتاج الربيطاين،‏ وتأسياً‏ عىل<br />

ذلك حدثت كارثة تاريخية لعربستان والشيخ خزعل<br />

عندما دبرت مؤامرة بني اإلنجليز والفرس عام 1925 إذ<br />

يف إحدى الليايل تآمر القائد العسكري الفاريس،‏ الذي<br />

كانت تربطه صداقة شخصية بالشيخ خزعل،‏ الستضافته<br />

عىل منت قارب فاريس ‏)خوزستان(‏ مزين باألعالم ومضاء<br />

باألضواء،‏ وسحر الشيخ بكالم معسول الستدراجه بينام<br />

هو يخفي الخيانة والغدر،‏ وأخفى تفاصيل نوايا وخروج<br />

وابحار السفينة من ميناء شط العرب،‏ ورسعان ما قاد<br />

املتآمرون الشيخ خزعل الكعبي امري عربستان واملحمرة<br />

إىل املنفى يف طهران.‏<br />

وأصبح خداع الربيطانيني واإليرانيني للشيخ<br />

خزعل والكارثة التاريخية التي حلّت بأماراته منوذجا<br />

شعبيا ورمزا حزينا للغدر والخيانة،‏ وبالتايل،‏ يف<br />

الثالثينيات،‏ تم تلحني وغناء أغنية تراجيدية للمطربة<br />

بدرية أنور،‏ قال الشعراء يف البداية ‏“يا دكًة بن حمود<br />

دكًة خزعلية”‏ ثم غريت فيام بعد إىل ‏“يا دقة املحبوب<br />

دقة خزعلية”‏ وغناها فنانني مشهورين مثل ناظم<br />

الغزايل،‏ سليمة مراد،‏ يوسف عمر،‏ فؤاد سامل،‏ حمزة<br />

السعداوي،‏ ساجدة عبيد وغريهم كثري وذلك لجامل<br />

الكلامت وصدق املشاعر.‏<br />

وال تزال كلامت وأصداء التوسل يف األغنية ترتدد<br />

حتى يومنا هذا يف الفلكلور العراقي للداللة عىل<br />

الخيانة املؤملة ويصدح بها املطربون”‏ خيّة أويص املار<br />

ما يقبل وصيّة – ويا دكًة املحبوب دكًة خزعلية”.‏<br />

املصادر:‏ ويكيبيديا،الباحثالعراقي محمد عجاج<br />

الجمييل،‏ الجزيرة نت،‏ طاهر عبد،‏ أربعة قرون من تاريخ<br />

العراق/تعريب جعفرالخياط،‏ حميد رحيمالخزاعي،‏<br />

ناجي جواد الساعايت،‏ جون كارسويل،‏ وجيسون هاريس،‏<br />

وغادة عيل،‏ وحميد مجيد،‏ وعالء كًويل.‏<br />

44 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION <strong>JUNE</strong> 1- <strong>JUNE</strong> 30<br />


T H<br />

SEPTEMBER 15 <strong>2024</strong><br />




GENERAL ADMISSION $ 45 $ 35<br />

AGES 2-12 $ 35 $ 25<br />



<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 45


A Night of Culture<br />

Celebration is a highlight of the<br />

year-long Chaldean Story series<br />


The Chaldean News and Chaldean Community<br />

Foundation hosted a “Culture Night” to celebrate<br />

and showcase Chaldean culture.<br />

More than 200 people attended the event, many<br />

of whom were not Chaldean. The guests enjoyed traditional<br />

Chaldean foods like potato chop and geymar,<br />

among others.<br />

“What struck me most was observing the number<br />

of people present from outside the Chaldean community,”<br />

said Alex Lumelsky, the Creative Director of<br />

the Chaldean News and a key organizer of the event.<br />

“There was a good balance of people from within the<br />

community and people of other backgrounds who<br />

seemed genuinely curious about the culture.”<br />

The event marked the end of a months-long grant<br />

series called the Chaldean Story. Last year, the Chaldean<br />

News received a grant from Michigan Humanities’<br />

Great Michigan Stories, which is meant to highlight<br />

untold stories in Michigan.<br />

A few minutes after the event began, Omar Jarbo<br />

stepped up with his zurna and his drummer, Wesame<br />

Matlub. The bright and playful music inspired a group<br />

of attendees to break into traditional Chaldean dance,<br />

usually seen at weddings, called the Zaffa. This was<br />

further enhanced when sisters Caitlyn Hakim and Carly<br />

Hakim Babi brought out their traditional Chaldean<br />

clothes and began teaching dance moves to the crowd.<br />

Another popular feature was Helen Kassab’s<br />


Clockwise from top of page: Omar Binno leads the<br />

music; guests enjoying the atmosphere; an exchange<br />

of information; guests soaking up culture; and<br />

Caitlyn Hakim demonstrating a traditional dance.<br />

breadmaking table. She and her squad showed each<br />

step to making traditional Chaldean bread. Guests<br />

watched with wonder and were able to eat the bread<br />

after it was made.<br />

The Chaldean Community Foundation put together<br />

a table featuring trinkets from the culture. It<br />

showed various pieces of visual art, mini sculptures,<br />

maps, and other items related to the culture.<br />

The event also featured a photo booth by Nashwan<br />

Taila of Picture Perfect Mirror Booth, in which guests<br />

could dress up in traditional clothes and take fun photos<br />

with their friends. Afterward, they received the<br />

photo via text message and printout.<br />

Guests were treated to Turkish coffee brought<br />

right to them. Dheyaa Kabo walked the room,<br />

asking patrons to try a shot of his delectable creation,<br />

showing off his creative pouring method<br />

that the guests seemed to love.<br />

Zofia Walska Haney, who is not Chaldean,<br />

attended the event because she was curious<br />

about the Chaldean culture. She moved to the<br />

metro Detroit area only a few years ago from her<br />

home country of Poland and has already made<br />

a few Chaldean friends. Ever since she first<br />

learned what a Chaldean person is, she wanted<br />

to experience the culture herself.<br />

“I was so excited to experience the Chaldean<br />

culture that my friends were talking about,” she<br />

said. “I loved the vibe and it felt really authentic.<br />

The food and dancing were my favorite parts.”<br />

Several local dignitaries also attended the<br />

event, including State Rep. Mike McFall, State<br />

Rep. Tom Kuhn, Macomb County Commissioner<br />

Don VanSyckle, Judge Douglas Shepherd, and<br />

Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski.<br />

DJ Joe Sesi provided live music before and after<br />

Jarbo’s performance.<br />

Weam Namou and Zina Lumelsky attended to<br />

represent the Chaldean Cultural Center at another<br />

table, offering their wisdom and showing off the vast<br />

resources and archives of the CCC. Next to them,<br />

guests could get their name written in Sureth by CCF<br />

Jumhoria Kaskorkis.<br />

Namou spoke at the event. “While most people<br />

know that writing was invented in ancient Mesopotamia,”<br />

she said, “they don’t know that the first recorded<br />

writer was a woman from that region. Enheduanna<br />

was a princess, priestess, and the first writer<br />

in history who signed her name.”<br />

For Chaldean News Editor Sarah Kittle, seeing her<br />

name in the language was one of the coolest things<br />

there. “I was impressed by the number of young children,”<br />

she added, “and how excited they were for the<br />

music and dancing.”<br />

The celebration continues as the 20th anniversary<br />

of the Chaldean News moves forward.<br />


STORY<br />

This report is made possible with generous support from<br />

Michigan Stories, a Michigan Humanities Grants initiative.<br />

46 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>


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continued from page 43<br />

toos to mark Christian Copts in Egypt<br />

with a small cross on the inside of the<br />

wrist to grant them access to churches.<br />

Those without it would have difficulty<br />

entering the church; therefore, from a<br />

very young age (sometimes even a few<br />

months old) Christians would tattoo<br />

their children with the cross identifying<br />

them as Copts.<br />

The power of these tattoos comes<br />

from the story they tell. There is something<br />

magical about knowing that the<br />

artwork you’re about to have permanently<br />

inscribed on your body is the<br />

same artwork that someone hundreds<br />

of years ago had as well.<br />

One of the most popular tattoos<br />

is the Jerusalem cross, because of its<br />

meaning. The central cross represents<br />

Jerusalem as the center of the world.<br />

And four corner crosses represent Christianity<br />

spreading to the four corners of<br />

the world. Pilgrims come from all over<br />

the globe, and when they are tattooed,<br />

they become a part of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem<br />

becomes a part of them.<br />

Tattoos Today<br />

After the U.S. invasion in 2003, a different<br />

kind of tattoo could be seen on<br />

young Iraqis. Inspired by the tattedup<br />

biceps of U.S. soldiers, tattoo art<br />

became a different kind of self-expression.<br />

Although permanent tattoos are<br />

forbidden by Islamic law, during<br />

wartime in Iraq many men had their<br />

names tattooed on their skin for identification<br />

purposes should they not<br />

survive the conflict.<br />

Some non-Muslim Iraqi women<br />

have eyebrow tattoos, lip tattoos, and<br />

eyeliner tattoos, while in Europe men<br />

are more accepting of tattoos, especially<br />

celebrities, according to the London<br />

newspaper Al-Hayat. Pharaonic<br />

tattoos have become popular among<br />

world celebrities.<br />

Initially in the U.S., tattooing was<br />

an act for sailors and the lower classes,<br />

but now things have changed. Due to<br />

modern-day awareness and the fact<br />

that tattoo craftsmen have become<br />

more capable, tattoos have moved<br />

towards becoming the canvas of individual<br />

choice.<br />








<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 47

EVENTS<br />


Chamber Dinner<br />

The 21st Annual Chaldean American<br />

Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner<br />

was held on April 26, <strong>2024</strong>, at Shenandoah<br />

Country Club in West Bloomfield. Designed<br />

to honor the individuals and businesses that<br />

make a positive impact on the Chaldean community,<br />

this year’s honoree was Frank Jonna of<br />

Jonna Construction, who was named Businessperson<br />

of the Year. The evening was sponsored<br />

by Citizens State Bank, Jonna Construction, and<br />

Swift Home Loans, among many others.<br />

Clockwise<br />

from above:<br />

Frank received a<br />

standing ovation from<br />

dinner attendees;<br />

Congresswomen<br />

Haley Stevens (left)<br />

and Elissa Slotkin; the<br />

Frank Jonna family;<br />

CACC President<br />

Martin Manna thanks<br />

dinner chairs Kevin<br />

Denha (left) and Ron<br />

Boji; 2022 honoree<br />

Mike Denha with wife<br />

Nedal and son Jeff;<br />

CACC Board member<br />

Wes Ayar with wife<br />

Christina and mother<br />

Hanan; the CACC<br />

logo in ice; Rep.<br />

John James, Bishop<br />

Ibrahim, and Raad<br />

Kathawa.<br />

People for Palmer Park<br />

Chaldean News staff Dr. Adhid Miri was invited to<br />

speak at a “Storytellers on Sunday” event held<br />

May 19 at Palmer Park Log Cabin. The cultural<br />

neighborhood event included a book swap and discussion<br />

(stories) with four guests, including Dr. Miri.<br />

Dr. Adhid Miri is a former professor of chemistry and<br />

cultural consultant with diverse professional experiences<br />

in Iraq, England, and the United States. Dr. Miri<br />

holds a PhD from Brunel University London and a Post-<br />

Doctoral fellowship from King’s College London.<br />

Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Adhid has been in the US<br />

since 1981 and has been an active member of the Iraqi<br />

American community in Michigan. He advocates for<br />

Christians and minorities and travels frequently to report<br />

on demographic changes of internally displaced<br />

persons in Iraq. He is our resident storyteller.<br />

Other speakers included Abriana Walton, also<br />

known as BrifromtheD, an eclectic multimedia journalist<br />

and producer hailing from a lineage of dreamers and<br />

artists. Her mission is to ignite positive change in her<br />

community by sharing relatable yet aspirational stories.<br />

Speaker Larry Gabriel’s story is called The Banjo, A<br />

Love Story. He is a fourth-generation musician who plays<br />

tenor banjo in the Gabriel Traditional Jazz Band. Larry is<br />

also a poet and journalist who has been an editor at Detroit<br />

Metro Times, UAW Solidarity and Detroit Free Press.<br />

The fourth storyteller, Maureen McDonald, is a longtime<br />

journalist and author who lived in Palmer Park in<br />

the 1970s.<br />

Attendees shared their stories about the neighborhood<br />

in the 70s, many commenting on the good relationship<br />

they had with Chaldean store owners.<br />

Dr. Miri’s presentation followed an arc, beginning<br />

with a brief history of Chaldeans in Iraq, their migration<br />

to North America, then the U.S. and Detroit in particular.<br />

He then focused in on “Chaldean Town,” the 7 Mile and<br />

Woodward Avenue neighborhood and shared some wonderful<br />

stories about times in Palmer Park specifically.<br />

Palmer Park is one of thirteen regional parks in the<br />

City of Detroit parks system. One of the largest parks in<br />

Detroit, just southwest of 7 Mile and Woodward, it has<br />

281acres of woodlands, meadows, recreational areas,<br />

and athletic fields. Over the past 4 years the city, together<br />

with various foundations and community partners,<br />

has invested in major improvements.<br />

Treasured as a public park for more than 125 years, it<br />

has been the site for magical memories, stories, and experiences<br />

for children and their families who played and<br />

explored. It features a log cabin from the 1800s, where<br />

the storytelling event was held.<br />

48 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

HIRING<br />

WE ARE<br />

Do you possess a passion for bettering the lives of others?<br />

Join our ever expanding team!<br />

Behavioral Health Therapist Career Services Case Worker<br />

Case Worker Immigration Coordinator<br />

Receptionist<br />

Advocacy<br />

Acculturation<br />

Community Development<br />

Cultural Preservation<br />

For More Information<br />

HR@chaldeanfoundation.org<br />

586-722-7253<br />

www.chaldeanfoundation.org/careers<br />

<strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong> CHALDEAN NEWS 49



6<br />


Clockwise from top left:<br />

1. Pete Essa’s grandfather<br />

with aunts and uncles,<br />

Iraq in the early 1900s.<br />

2. Pioneer Family: Joe Acho<br />

with wife and four sons,<br />

taken in the late 1940s.<br />

1<br />


5<br />

2<br />

3<br />


3. Family of Elias Jamil.<br />

Baba!<br />

In honor of Father’s Day, we celebrate the role that<br />

dads play in our families. They carry us daily. Beyond<br />

providing financial support, they offer guidance, support,<br />

and wisdom, shaping our values, beliefs, and aspirations.<br />

Fathers often serve as role models, demonstrating<br />

strength, resilience, and integrity, while also fostering a<br />

sense of security and stability within the family unit. Their<br />

presence, involvement, and love are instrumental in nurturing<br />

confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of identity in<br />

their children, ultimately laying the foundation for healthy<br />

relationships and personal growth.<br />

7<br />

4. George Jonna (seated),<br />

his wife Hania (seated), with<br />

six of his seven children and<br />

two daughters-in-law. Hania<br />

is pregnant with baby Pete<br />

Jonna (Jonna Construction).<br />

U.S. circa 1950-1951.<br />

5. Hikmat Bahrou, with his<br />

daughter Zina, in Baghdad,<br />

Iraq, 1974.<br />

6. Ibrahim family (Joe<br />

Matti’s mother’s family).<br />

The photo was probably<br />

taken in the early 1900s in<br />

Telkeppe. Father is seated,<br />

his wife standing, and five<br />

children.<br />

7. A father and his daughters.<br />

The Chaldean Cultural Center and Museum owns<br />

a collection of captivating images from our vibrant<br />

community that we are delighted to share with the<br />

Chaldean News. If you have photographs that you<br />

would like us to incorporate into our archive, kindly<br />

reach out to us at info@chaldeanculturalcenter.org<br />

or call 248-681-5050.<br />

4<br />

50 CHALDEAN NEWS <strong>JUNE</strong> <strong>2024</strong>

From the Office of Wayne County Treasurer<br />

Eric R. Sabree<br />

If you are facing foreclosure and need assistance in starting<br />

a Wayne County Probate Court Case because a property is<br />

in the name of a deceased family member, please contact<br />

one of the following community partners for assistance:<br />

Michigan Legal Services: 313-774-1527 | 313-725-4890<br />

United Community Housing Coalition: 313-405-7726<br />

Legal Aid & Defender: 313-967-5800<br />

Contact the Wayne County<br />

Probate Court by calling:<br />

313-224-5706<br />

We are here to help!<br />

www.Treasurer.WayneCounty.com<br />


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