Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Over 15,000 Assyrian Christian Families at Risk in Northeast Syria

00 syria war damage 110815


On Monday, Bishop Yatron Koliana of the Assyrian Church of the East in Lebanon said that over 15,000 Assyrian Christian families remaining in Syria are at risk from the current crisis. On Friday, ISIL jihadists abducted 230 Assyrian Christians in Homs Governate during an offensive to seize Quaryatayn, in a reprise of a similar kidnapping earlier this year. Bishop Yatron told RIA Novosti, “My personal sources say there are about 15,000 families left in Syria. Of course, they don’t live in the villages captured by militants, but they were able to move temporarily to nearby towns. Resettled families still face uncertainty, but the estimated 3,500-strong Assyrian diaspora in Hasakah, Qamishi, and Tall Tamr is able to accommodate an estimated 1,500 internally displaced families”. He added that over 550 Christian refugees have received shelter in Lebanon since March before the Lebanese government banned refugee entrance in May. An agreement between the church and the Lebanese government allows Assyrian Christians passage into Lebanon provided they display the needed documentation. Bishop Yatron emphasised the Assyrians’ desire to return to their homeland, but said their security largely depends on “strong countries that in one way or another affect the Syrian crisis. We very much hope that countries such as Russia and the USA will hear our call for help from their Christian brothers in the Middle East”.

The latest abductions follow a similar attack on Assyrian villages in Hasakah Governate in late February and early March, when IS militants took over 250 Christians captive. They killed dozens of the inhabitants and looted their homes and churches. Religious leaders in Lebanon and the Vatican classified the acts as genocide. Assyrians are an ethnic group whose historic home lies in southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and northeastern Syria, and are amongst the first groups to adopt Christianity. Syrian government forces are in the fourth year of a military standoff with several independence and extremist groups, including IS and the al-Nusra Front.

10 August 2015

Sputnik International



Monday, 13 April 2015

13 April 2015. Don’t Forget the Suffering People of Gaza!

00 Gaza girl. 13.04.15


Don’t forget the suffering people of Gaza. You can help by not voting for the bastards who support the crusaders and aggressors who continually bomb and blockade them. Remember Ted Cruz and how he spat on Arab religious leaders! That’s a hint about what political bloc you shouldn’t support…

If you ever hear someone bloviating about “Muslim suicide bombers”… remember this image and this poem… they’re simply patriotic partisans fighting the occupying power… and the USA supports that oppressive occupier. Puts a new light on things, no?



Thursday, 11 September 2014

11 September 2014. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… Clueless Chump Cruz Lumps ISIS and Syria Together… Booed Off Stage by Mideast Christian Bigs

00 you are a douchebag. 11.09.14


On Wednesday night, whilst the nation watched President Obama’s primetime address on the threat of ISIS, something else happened in Washington… the audience booed Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) off the stage of a Christian event. Many consider Cruz a rising darling of the American Christian right. He speaks at evangelical gatherings in the country, talks to groups of conservative pastors, and headlines events with the Family Research Council. However, Wednesday night, his Christian audience was largely Eastern and Arab. The brand of conservative American evangelicalism that Cruz often champions… one that often aligns itself with the State of Israel’s interests… didn’t sit well with everyone in attendance.

Cruz was keynoting a gala for In Defence of Christians (IDC), an advocacy and awareness group that aims to bring the USA’s attention to the plight of ancient Christian communities in the Middle East, and to protect the rights of other religious minority groups in the region. This week, IDC is hosting a three-day Summit, a conference bringing together a range of Middle Eastern Christians… Orthodox, Catholic, Coptic, Syriac, Lebanese, Assyrian, to name a few… to foster a new sense of unity in the midst of a politically fraught season. Most of the panels at the summit are of a religious nature, but a handful of political leaders gave remarks as well, including Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was the MC at Wednesday’s gala, but Cruz was to give a keynote.

Initially, Cruz received applause for his opening remarks that the group was one in its defence of Christians, Jews, and “people of good faith who are standing together against those who would persecute and murder those who dare to disagree with their religious teachings”. Yet, things turned sour within minutes. Cruz alleged, “ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and their state sponsors like Syria and Iran, are all engaged in a vicious genocidal campaign to destroy religious minorities in the Middle East. Sometimes, we’re told not to lump these groups together, but we have to understand their so-called nuances and differences. . . . In 1948, Jews throughout the Middle East faced murder and extermination and fled to the nation of Israel. Today, Christians have no better ally than the Jewish state”.

His audience at the Omni Shoreham Hotel began to boo. At first, Cruz continued undeterred. “Let me say this… those who hate Israel hate America. Those who hate Jews hate Christians”. The booing got louder. Cruz pressed on, adding that his heart “weeps that the men and women here will not stand in solidarity with Jews and Christians alike who are persecuted by radicals who seek to murder them”. IDC President Toufic Baaklini tried to calm the crowd, which appeared to have a divided reaction to Cruz’s words, but by that point Cruz had enough, saying, “I’m saddened to see some here, not everyone, but some here are so consumed with hate (to which someone in the audience shouted, “We aren’t consumed with hate, no, you’re consumed with hate”). If you won’t stand with Israel and Jews, then, I won’t stand with you. Thank you and God bless you”. With that, Cruz walked off stage. Later, Cruz reacted to the event on his Facebook page, “Tonight in Washington should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself ‘In Defense of Christians,’. Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight”.

Baaklini attempted to smooth over the situation, “As Cardinal Rai so eloquently put it to the attendees of the In Defence of Christians’ inaugural Summit gala dinner, ‘At every wedding, there are a few problems’. In this case, a few politically motivated opportunists chose to divide a room that for more than 48 hours sought unity in opposing the shared threat of genocide, faced not only by our Christian brothers and sisters, but our Jewish brothers and sisters and people of all other faiths and all people of good will”.

At its core, Cruz’s problem was one of context. First, he pinned his remarks to the conflict between Israel and Hamas when one of the group’s primary agenda points was actually the plight of Iraqi Christians. Second, Christians are far from a monolithic group, especially when it comes to views on policy on Israel and the Middle East. The American evangelicals Cruz typically addresses tend to be worlds apart historically, culturally, theologically, and politically from the Christian leaders in attendance. Most American evangelicals are likely not even familiar with the Christian leaders gathered at this event, even though the headliners are leading lights in their communities, and also met with President Obama at the White House on Thursday:

  • Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Cardinal Raï, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
  • Gregorios III Laham, Melkite Greek Catholic Patirarch of Antioch and all the East, Alexandria, and Jerusalem
  • Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
  • Aram I Keshishian, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church
  • Metropolitan Joseph Al-Zehlawi, Archbishop of New York and all North America for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
  • Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
  • Ibrahim Ibrahim, Bishop Emeritus of Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle.

Whether or not Cruz meant to rile up the crowd to rally his base, or whether it was all just a giant mistake is hard to parse. Whatever the case, it caused quite a stir. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and another speaker at IDC’s conference, calls Cruz’s performance “bizarre” yet “expected”, saying, “Like most other blind ideologues on the far right, he cared not a bit for the reality and the sensitivities of Middle East Christians. If policy makers want to help Christians, they’d first listen to them, before they try to lecture them. Having an ‘I love Israel, and I don’t care about the rest of the Arab World’ mindset may work in US politics, but it’s why we’re in the mess we are in across the region”. Baaklini, the IDC president, said that the incident only serves as a reminder that unity, especially among diverse Christian groups, is still needed, noting, “Tonight’s events make clearer than ever, that In Defence of Christians is desperately needed in a world that remains divided to the point where even the most fundamental value of life and human dignity are cast aside. We remain undaunted and focused on achieving our goals”.

11 September 2014

Elizabeth Dias




The Evangelical/Mormon/Pentecostalist sectarians call themselves “Christian”… I’d argue that such isn’t so and we shouldn’t allow them to usurp the title. They do nothing that real Christians do… they don’t abstain… they don’t go to confession… they don’t have liturgies… they don’t bless objects or things… they don’t have any sense of the holy, holy places, or holiness. They misuse a (bowdlerised) Scripture, they proselytise amongst Christians (indeed, they don’t consider us Christians… the arrogance and the cheek of it all!), and they’re the willing foot-soldiers of the Far Right in the USA.

Note that he lumps together ISIS and Syria… when the Syrian government opposes ISIS and fights it! He lumps together Iran and ISIS, when Iran opposes ISIS! ISIS are radical Sunnis, whilst the Iranians are Shi’a. That’s not only obliviousness… its sheer stupidity… its rank ignorance, coming from someone who doesn’t know the first thing about the region, its people, or its ancient religious faith. Note well that he just stormed forward without any real preparation or care for his audience.

Of course, Cruz bumbled through it… he didn’t prepare himself, even though there are many Orthodox Christians from Texas who could’ve helped him. No… the arrogant bastard came to insult us and to score political points off those that he doesn’t consider Christians. I’d say to this posturing sack o’ shit, “Your conventicles have been in existence for only about 200 years, and some for even less than that. You arrogantly presume to lecture those of us whose Churches literally reach back to the Upper Room in an unbroken institutional history. It was the disgraceful performance of a spoilt toddler. America has nothing at all to teach the world… it’s no better or no worse than anyone else is. Your state of Texas is the Bloody Assizes of the world, with one of the highest rates of judicial executions in the world… and you presume to lecture us. Tsar Aleksandr routinely pardoned all death sentences, save for those of crimes against the state (and he pardoned some of them, too). He was a true conservative, unlike a posturing Hard Right radical like you, sir. I stand against you in all particulars, but most of all I oppose your arrogant hijacking of the high title of ‘Christian’. You aren’t such and I say such to your face. No one who believes in Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Mormonism, or any other of the Radical American Sects is a Christian”.

That’s that…


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Debate over US Action in Syria Divides Syrian-Americans

00 Allentown Protest. Syria. 31.08.13


As the international community and the US Congress debate the use of military force in Syria, Syrian-Americans found themselves sharply and passionately divided over whether such action would resolve the deadly civil war that’s raging in their homeland or virtually assure that the violence and turmoil would continue. In an action alert sent out Tuesday, the non-profit Syrian-American Council (SAC) said, “Congress must show the world that America isn’t afraid to act when a brutal dictator continues to disregard American warnings and defy international norms against the use of chemical weapons. American action must be decisive and strategic enough to end the war in Syria”. The group asked its members to call on Congress for “decisive and strategic” American intervention that’ll “pave the way” for a Syrian future that doesn’t include its current president, Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian Civil War has raged on since early 2011, with estimates putting the death toll at more than 100,000. Whilst the USA and several other nations provided humanitarian aid, they haven’t intervened militarily. However, according to an American intelligence report, the alleged chemical attack on civilians last month… forbidden under the Chemical Weapons Convention… killed more than 1,400 people including hundreds of children. The report builds a case that the Assad régime was responsible for the attack, and prompted calls for quick retaliation.

Doured Daghistani, a paediatric oncologist in Florida and a Syrian-American who came to the USA in 1982 and became a US citizen in 1990, said, “We know the régime owns chemical weapons and the regime is capable of firing them, so I’m very confident from the history that the régime did it, because it’s a sophisticated weapon. It was fired by missiles, and it killed an opposition area. Why rebels would attack themselves?” Daghistani said that his brother recently fled from Syria to Lebanon with his family, but their 94-year-old father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, remains in Damascus along with Doured’s sister, who cares for him. He said, “We can’t move them, and the last thing I want is for them to die with a chemical weapons attack, him and my sister. That’s just my nightmare”. Daghistani serves on the SAC board, which has been active, along with several other Syrian-American groups across the US, in organising rallies to call for American military intervention. He noted, “A hundred-thousand people have died, and, now, you have chemical weapons. It’s crazy! It’s mad! And it’s time to stop the madness”.

However, other Syrian-Americans are just as emphatic, insisting that the Assad régime isn’t responsible for the chemical weapons attack. Fr Anthony Sabbagh, who was born in Syria and who leads a largely Syrian-American congregation at St George Orthodox Church in Pennsylvania, home to one of the largest groups of Syrian-Americans in the USA, said, “I don’t think chemicals were used by the government at all. They didn’t even use it in the war against Israel when they were fighting. Our government must be smarter than that!” The church is raising funds to help Syrian refugees, and offers graphic details about Christians… including clergy… that they said were violently killed by rebel forces in Syria. Fr Anthony said, “Never, ever, did Bashar or the Syrian régime consider Christians to be the enemy, because we’re peaceful people. So is the régime, too. That’s proof for us that it isn’t the Syrian régime or even the Army that used chemicals against its own people. This is why England, our best ally, backed off”, in reference to a vote by the British Parliament last week not to support a military strike on Syria.

Moussa Abdallah, a member of the church who moved to the USA from Syria in 1979 and still has many family members in in his native land, said that he, too, doesn’t believe that the Syrian government is responsible for the attack, saying, “I believe and I’m quite sure who used the chemical weapons, it’s the rebels. I’m sure because I know my country, I served in the army, I know exactly what’s going on. Do you believe the Syrian government used chemical weapons before the inspectors came? Common sense, just put it in your head and ask yourself, would they do that? Like we are animals coming from the jungle?” He believed that Saudi Arabia supplied rebel forces with chemical weapons, and that Qatar provided protective masks that the rebels didn’t know how to use, so, the accidental explosion that resulted killed hundreds.

A call to action by the International Action Center (IAC), which opposes American wars abroad, including intervention in Syria, emphatically stated, “Hands Off Syria!” The group is organising roughly a dozen marches and rallies in various American cities in the coming days, including a march from the White House to Capitol Hill on 9 September, the day Congress returns from summer recess and will consider US President Barack Obama‘s request for a congressional vote approving military action in Syria. An IAC statement said, “President Obama is using the same tactics as President Bush did before the Iraq War. Ten years later, Iraq lay in ruins. A million Iraqis died, millions became refugees. More than 1.5 million American soldiers were deployed to Iraq”. Friends of Syria, a volunteer group that says it “spreads the truth to prevent war”, posted an online photo of the Twin Towers burning in New York on 9/11, with the stark message, “Who knew that 12 years later we’d have a president who wants to arm and come to the defence of the people who did this?” It’s a grim reference to concerns that al-Qaeda has joined rebel forces in Syria.

Russia blocked a vote by the UN Security Council to approve military force against Syria, a move that strained American-Russian relations. Dr Daghistani said that when former US President Bill Clinton was faced with evidence of genocide that killed tens of thousands in Kosovo, he acted “on his own, without the Security Council, without the UN, without the blessing of every other country on earth, to do the right thing at the end of the day, to save the people that were dying. So, why we care about Russia right now? Russia has their own Putin, he’s half-naked all over the place, he wants to show like he’s a superman, and they want to show like he can snap Obama’s hand into whatever he wants. Russia is nothing! Now, we care about Russia? It’s crazy!”

3 September 2013

Maria Young



Editor’s Note:

The anti-war people amongst Arab-Americans tend to be Christians (of all traditional “flavours”, by the way), whilst the pro-war people tend to be Sunni Muslims (although, truth be told, perhaps, not a majority of this cohort) and assimilated sorts who’ve converted to Sectarian Evangelicalism. That is, Orthodox (both Eastern and Oriental) and Catholics tend to oppose American intervention. I know of no major religious leader of such groups who advocate the use of American military force in the region. NONE. This will set up tensions in the AOCANA… the ethnic Arabs are solidly anti-war, whilst many of the konvertsy amongst them are neocons who support American warmongering throughout the world. We Russians support our Syrian confrères in the Orthosphere to the hilt. So do the Greeks, Serbs, Romanians, and other real Orthodox… there’s no hesitation… an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. This may drive a wedge between traditional Arab-American Christians and those who’ve assimilated into a more “American” pattern. It’s what I see. God willing, there’ll be no war… please, God, let that be so. America has spilt enough blood in its insane drive for global hegemony in the last twenty years… it has to end.



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