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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 14, 2007 / 28 Sivan, 5767

Baghdad believers being terrorized for crime of Christianity

By Hannah Allam and Leila Fadel


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Is Islam incompatible with democracy, decency?


JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — An al-Qaida-affiliated insurgent group is giving Christians in Baghdad a stark set of options: Convert to Islam, marry your daughters to our fighters, pay an Islamic tax or leave with only the clothes on your back.

A U.S. military official said American forces became aware of the threats only last month and now have erected barriers around the largest Christian enclave in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood in an effort to protect its residents.

Christians in Baghdad refuse to discuss the threats for fear of retribution. But in Syria, where thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled, tales abound of families that were killed or driven from their homes because they either refused or couldn't afford to pay the jizya, a tax usually levied on non-Muslim men of military age that's been part of Islam for more than 1,000 years.

"Two or three months ago, we heard we were going to be forcibly removed from Dora," said Rafah Elia Daoud, 53, who fled to Damascus, Syria's capital, on May 24. "Not everyone got a paper with the threat, but we knew. The choice was to convert, pay the jizya or get out."

"My brother was threatened; my sister was threatened. All of them had to pay the jizya," added her husband, Jamal Antone Karoumy, 66. "One of my brothers got a note and a single bullet under his door. The note said, `If you don't pay the jizya to the resistance, you'll be killed.'"

Madeline Shukr Yusuf, 74, is still shaken by her recent escape to Damascus. She said she didn't have enough money to pay a monthly jizya of 250,000 Iraqis dinars, about $200. The insurgents were determined to collect their tax, she said.

"They wanted to kill me and take my gold bracelets," she said, tears filling her eyes at the memory. "They tell us pay or give a daughter in marriage to a fighter."

Iraq long had been home to thriving Christian communities, primarily Assyrians and Chaldean Catholics, who trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia. Some of Saddam Hussein's closest confidants were Christian, including his foreign minister, Tarik Aziz. Christian communities were prominent in many major Iraqi cities, including Mosul in the north and Basra in the south.

Baghdad had major Christian enclaves in the central neighborhood of Karada, the eastern mostly Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad and nearby al-Ghadir and the notorious Sunni-dominated Doura in the capital's south.

As Iraq has descended into chaos, however, many Christians have fled, joining an estimated 2.2 million exiles, including 1.4 million Iraqis now estimated to be living in Syria. At least 19,000 Iraqi Christians have registered in Damascus with the United Nations refugee agency, and thousands more are thought to have sought shelter there, but have yet to register.

A Christian Iraqi legislator estimated Tuesday that a half-million Christians have fled Iraq since 2004.

"What is happening today in Iraq against Christians is shameful," Ablahad Afram Sawa said in an impassioned statement read to Iraq's parliament by its speaker. He said Christians hadn't faced such oppression in nearly 2,000 years. "Most of the churches in Baghdad have closed their doors," he added.

Iraqi officials said others have left their homes but remained in the country. At least 1,050 Christians from Baghdad and Mosul have taken up residence in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq in the past month, according to Nowrooz Khan, spokesman for the Ministry of Migration and Displacement.

The relationship between Christians and Muslims has been a complex one. In the Middle Ages, Christian crusaders tried to capture Jerusalem from Muslim rule at least 10 times, and modern-day extremists still invoke those efforts in calling for jihad - holy war - to defend their faith.

Al-Qaida, which has killed thousands of Sunni and Shiite Muslims, also has targeted Christians, whom Iraqis widely consider to be pacifists.

Still, early Muslims considered Christians, along with Jews, to be "people of the book," as Muslims refer to followers of other monotheistic religions, and believed they were entitled to protection under Islamic rule, in exchange for jizya, as the tax was called. It was considered a substitute for the tax for the poor, zakat, which Muslims pay annually.

In some cases, Christians who fought alongside Muslims were exempted from the jizya and shared in the spoils of war equally with Muslims.

Sawa, in his statement to the Iraqi parliament, recalled how some Christians fought against European crusaders. The first general said to have entered Jerusalem after Salahaddin repulsed the crusaders was a Christian.

In Iraq today, however, fear is palpable among Christians. Last Sunday, a priest was gunned down in Mosul with three companions after afternoon prayers. His body lay in the streets for hours. Another priest was kidnapped on Wednesday in New Baghdad.

Christians in the capital refuse to talk. At a church in Karada, a priest shooed away a McClatchy correspondent. Nearby, five black funeral banners graced with yellow crosses fluttered in the wind.

Rumors abound. Residents said a priest and an altar boy were killed on Wednesday and their church was burned, but they refused to say more. "We are afraid of retribution," one said. The U.S. military denied that the incident occurred.

It's unclear when the Islamic State of Iraq, an insurgent umbrella group that's dominated by al-Qaida in Iraq, began demanding that Christians either leave their neighborhoods or pay the tax.

A U.S. military spokesman said American troops had been aware that some Christians were being forced from their homes, but realized only recently that it was a wide-scale campaign.

"We're aware that some Christians have left the area," Maj. Kirk Luedeke, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, said in an e-mail. "But we weren't aware until last month how widespread the situation was, after initially being led to believe it was a few isolated incidents of intimidation."

Since then, Luedeke said, the U.S. military has erected barriers around Dora's largest Christian enclave and begun a census to identify Christian residents so they can be checked on regularly.

Such efforts, however, are too late for thousands of Iraqi Christians who've flooded Jaramana, an industrial area on the southeast outskirts of Damascus and a popular destination for Iraqi Christian refugees.

In apartment after ramshackle apartment, Iraqi Christians last week recounted the horror of being forced from their homes after demands for jizya — or worse.

Yusuf, the 74-year-old who arrived there days ago, said her family couldn't afford the tax the insurgents demanded — but they also couldn't afford for all the members to flee. So they bundled Yusuf into a rented car headed for the Syrian border. She packed only a few clothes, her delicate white rosary and a tiny prayer book with a portrait of the Virgin Mary and the infant Christ on the cover.

She left behind her two daughters and her grandchildren.

"We can't pay, and my daughters are beautiful, so ..." she said. Then, too upset to continue, she clutched her rosary, turned her gaze heavenward and mouthed a prayer.

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Fadel reported from Baghdad, Allam from Damascus.






© 2007, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services