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New Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East Has a lot of Challenges Ahead but He Is the Perfect Man for the Job

His Holiness MAR AWA III , new CATHOLICOS PATRIARCH of the Assyrian Church of the East
By Ashur Sada, founder and webmaster of 

The Assyrian Church of the East recently elected its new patriarch, His Holiness MAR AWA III CATHOLICOS PATRIARCH, replacing Patriarch Gewargis III. The newly installed patriarch is the first to be born outside of the Assyrian homeland, having been born in the United State in 1975. He is also the 122nd to occupy this historical chair.

This comes at a time when the Assyrian community in Iraq and the middle east – and Christians in general – are at a very critical point in their thousands of years of existence in this region. A region they where they were once the original owners, but lately been relegated to a minority that has almost overstayed its existence there. Their numbers continue to dwindle, mostly thanks to migration, and a lot of those who remain may one day pick up and leave too. You also have the other threat of Islamic extremism which is something Assyrians in Iraq and Syria have been dealing with for over a decade now, ever since Al-Qaeda and ISIS took a foothold in the region. With this a backdrop, and having been born, raised and educated in the comfort of the west – with no ability to speak Arabic or Kurdish – it is no secret that the new patriarch has his work cut out for him. The challenges are too enormous for any leader out there.

But he is the perfect leader to face and tackle these challenges!

First off, he knows what challenges lay ahead. He may have been living in the United States, but in his previous position as the secretary of the holy synod of the church, he was familiar with the situation back home and what the church was going through in terms of this bleeding of its people leaving to the west. I mean, what is the point of having a church based in the Assyrian homeland if you don’t have much people left to serve? In a recent interview with an Iraqi news channel, his holiness made a very interesting remark when asked about the future of Christians in Iraq. His reply was brilliant, and to paraphrase: “we are a minority and a minority may mean different things, depending on the place. For example, in the west, being a minority is a great thing, whereas in the middle east, that may mean persecution and no rights.” This extremely clever answer makes it clear that he is very aware of the situation on the ground and what it will take to lead his people in this critical juncture.

While the new patriarch can’t do much about those who have already left the homeland and would be virtually impossible to convince them to come back, the least he could do is to stop the bleeding. In fact, if I was in his role, one of the very first things I would do is to conduct an accurate census of the base of the Assyrian Church in all of Iraq, in addition to those in Syria, Iran and Lebanon. The idea is to have a very good idea of how many remain – including expats who return for months at a time – and review these numbers once every 3-5 years to gauge where things are heading. If he is able to keep the numbers near their current levels in 5 years from now, then his mission will have been a success. Obviously, a church’s spiritual leader is not in a position to give someone a job or provide the youth with assistance with their academic or career future. But he can at least offer hope and lead by example – after all he himself returned to serve his people in the homeland – and the hope is that the people will see some significance in that and decide to see the silver lining in that. He can also be close to people of influence in the government to improve things for his people. More on that below.

The new patriarch should also feel comfortable venturing away from just being a man of the church and get more involved with other cultural and political matters relating to the Assyrian cause. The idea is that he has influence and clout and that should help get more things done. This is not to suggest he should become a politician. But he should at the very least be in touch with politicians in the country from all political and religious stripes. This is something the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church has been doing for close to a decade, promoting the interest of his base and people first. This, unfortunately, is the only way to get by in a country like Iraq and a region as complicated as the middle east: by forming alliances, talking to others, and putting your name out there, even if the seat of the church happens to be in the autonomous Kurdish region in the north. The good news is, HH has already making contacts with various political and religious leaders in the country, including the Iraqi president, prime minister and the leaders of all major churches in the country.

I am actually quite optimistic that the church has some bright days ahead, despite the reality of the enormous challenges it is currently facing and will continue to face in the years ahead. Mar Awa III is young, yet experienced and knowledgeable enough, to steer the church in the right direction. Last but not least, it is important to remember that the former patriarch – Gewargis III – is still alive, and he can offer a lot of advise to the younger patriarch. This is a unique situation, and one the Catholic Church experienced when the still living Pope Benedict resigned the papal office , to be replaced by the current Pope Francis.


Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published ‘POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?‘ book

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently publishedPOTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?  book


Personal questions:

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published 'POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?' book

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published ‘POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?’ book

-Welcome and thanks for taking the time to do this interview with

– Can you please introduce yourself and a bit about your background (Including your Assyrian roots)

Shlama Assyrian Voice, thank you for this special opportunity to introduce myself and tell you about my book. I was born and raised in Turlock, California, the heart of the Central Valley. Turlock was one of the first place Assyrians settled over 100 years ago. I spent 7 years in Dallas, Texas. Recently, I moved to California and currently live in Oakland (30 minutes from San Francisco).

-What do you do for living? What about your education?

I am currently a Technology Integrator at an independent school in the Bay Area. I am also an adjunct professor at California State University Stanislaus where I teach a Management Information Systems course. I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems from California State University Stanislaus and a Master’s in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.

-In your biography, you mention that you are both a preacher and a tech enthusiasts. Tell us a bit more about that? How did you start with each?

Growing up in an Assyrian home, we were raised to acquire skills that would allow us to be contributors to society’s basic needs. Thankfully, I found one of my passions in technology. Later, I realized that I had an interest in theological studies. I have found great success in both fields and have a deep love and appreciation for both.

-What places have you lived in so far and what has been your favorite?

Raised in Turlock – great place to grow up and I still have deep roots there.

Dallas – I enjoyed my time in Texas.

Oakland – The East Bay has its strengths.



-You recently published your own book, can you tell us a bit more on it? What is the book all about and what inspired you to write it?

I believe there are many aspects of our Assyrian culture that are healthy and strong but there are also some areas that need refining and questioning. I wrote my book to help the Assyrian community mature even further. I believe the Assyrian identity is strong enough to handle some of the questions I have raised.

-Your book is still relatively new but has already received a lot of good feedback on Amazon: how do you plan to keep the momentum going, and hopefully translating into bigger sales?

I am trusting that the book will have legs of its own. I wrote the book to help with an issue in society. I believe the book will continue to be helpful until we have reached a level of new awareness. At that point, I’ll have published my second book.

-Is there something specific that you want people to take from reading your book?

Mainly, I want to encourage those who feel like they weren’t growing or didn’t have a clear direction to head in. This book will inspire, encourage, and challenge anyone who reads it.

-How long did it take you and how has the reception been? Has there been any critical or negative reviews?

I spent over 5 years working on this book. So far the Assyrian community has been entirely supportive. I am still working with different organizations to host future book signings. The churches have also been super supportive.

-Do you believe that if Assyrians were to read your book in droves, it could mean a brighter future for our nation?

Assyrians, religious or not, should read this book if they want to help enhance the Assyrian community. The people who have read it so far seem to have really been blessed by it.

-Why should a non-Assyrian read this book? What is in it for others?

It’s important for all of us to learn about other cultures. We should not be stuck in our own world and miss what others have to offer. This book helps non-Assyrians to learn more about Assyrians.



-What is the future of Christianity in the US? Is it on a decline and do you see a revival?

I think Christianity is only alive when it is morphing, changing, and adjusting to what God is doing in the world. Christianity has constants but it is not a museum. It is important for Christian ministers of all denominations to be asking questions the people are asking.

-Ever been to Canada? Or other countries? Do you have a favorite city or country you visited?

New Orleans, Louisiana is one of my favorite places to visit. I would like to visit Canada in the near future.

-What are your top 3 websites they you like to follow on a regular basis?

-what are some of your favorite movies and books?

Star Wars, Ben Hur, The Old Man and the Sea.

-For those who are still in high school, what area of IT or computer science should they focus on, for a shot at a better career in the future?

It is important to know how to program but it is also important to learn how to work with others. Often, people who are really good at programming have a difficult time communicating with others. It’s important to be able to do both. Programming skills and people skills.

-If you could time travel, what period in history would you like to go to?

I’d love to check out the Ancient Near East in the 1st century. Pretty hectic place.



-Are you up to date with Assyrian developments in Iraq and Syria?

I am constantly following different news outlets and key individuals to try and learn more about the situation.

-What is the future of Assyrians in Iraq? Do you are you optimistic or do you see a Middle East that is empty of Assyrians and Christians in general?

Interestingly, I think that question is directly tied to the future of Assyrians in the West. In other words, if Assyrians in the West do not figure out a way to galvanize and become a unified front, then how will our people in the homeland unify? We are the ones who left the Middle East to create a better life. Unfortunately, that ‘better life’ has led to several religious, and political factions that do not seem to be serving or encouraging one another. This is a serious problem and it must be resolved. If we can work together then we can create a better future for everyone involved.

-What will it take to reverse the immigration tide to ensure more Assyrians stay home 

Assyrians who have become financially success should really consider and think about ways to reinvest in the homeland. It might actually pay huge dividends 10-20-30 years from now. People will stay in the Middle East when the societal structure is conducive to a healthy future where people can reach their human potential.

-How do you see the role of the Assyrian church in keeping our culture and language alive?

This is a difficult question and I think I’ve spoken at length about this in my new book. I would start there.

-Being someone who has written a book about this very topic, how can we ensure that our Christian belief is in sync with our Assyrian nationalism and vise versa. Do you think the two go hand in hand? Or does one prevent the other from being fully realized?  

This is a great question and again it is what my entire book revolves around. I think there are healthy answers and discussions.

-Do you believe Chaldeans and Syriacs are part of our nation (regardless of what they believe in) and that we should make every effort to unite with them?

YES, YES, YES. I think we need to stop asking the questions our parents asked ‘who’s Assyrian and who isn’t’ and start asking bigger and more important questions. “How do we unify?”

-Ever been to an Assyrian convention and what was it like?

I’ve been to several Assyrian conventions. It always seems like the location plays a large role. I’m a sucker for San Diego so that was one of my favourites. I do think we need to seriously consider hosting a convention in Texas.

-How do we ensure that the Assyrian language survives with the generation growing up in the west, where the first language at work and school is English?

I have a lot to say about this in my book. I would start there…

-Where you live and have worked recently, how do you see the state of Assyrian academia? are more Assyrian pursuing higher education and advanced degrees? if not, how can we encourage more to go for it?

Assyrians in the United States are VERY well educated. I don’t think we give the Assyrian people enough credit for all of our amazing accomplishments.

-If there is something you would like to say to all Assyrians out there , what would it be? 

I think it is important to be proud of being Assyrian but that should be matched with an eagerness to learn more about what it means to be an Assyrian. Often, Assyrians are tied to one way of understanding our own Assyrian ethnicity. If the Assyrian nation is going to grow, then it needs to begin thinking deeper.


-Google or Apple


-California or Texas?

Depends on the time of year.

-liberal or conservative?

Depends on the topic.

-Preaching or teaching? Preaching is a lost art and it needs to be reclaimed. What do people thin when you say the word ‘sermon’? Usually, it’s ‘boring, dull, agenda, political.’ Instead, I wish people thought, ‘inspiring, intellectual, thoughtful, subversive.’

-Football or baseball? Football!! WHO DAT

-Paris or New York? Paris. New York is great but Paris speaks to my soul.

-Favorite food? Nothing beats my moms Assyrian home cooking!

-Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad, Dexter, Mad Men, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones…the list keeps growing.

-Favorite NHL/NFL/MLB/NBA teams?NFL: New Orleans Saints, NBA: Boston Celtics, MLB: San Francisco Giants


Final thoughts

-Who is one Assyrian celebrity or person you would like us to interview in the future and what question should we ask them?

I think it would be great if some of our Assyrian religious leaders were interviewed and if they were asked some of the questions many of us wonder about. Practical questions that sceptics think about. Ideally, it would be great for the Assyrian community to setup a panel of speakers from all the different Assyrian religious traditions, ACOE, Protestant, Chaldean and so on.

-Someone is going through tough financial and social hardships and wants your guidance to help him through this difficult time: what biblical lessons would you give them?

I would probably stay away from biblical lessons and focus on more practical or immediate needs. The Bible is a great compendium of books but I don’t view it as a manual for life. Instead, we are led to make healthy choices through the reading and meditation on Scriptures that is in community with others and driven by the Holy Spirit. People often try to apply the Bible to real life situations and end up creating a standard that just doesn’t jive with the Spirit of the Scriptures.

-What is the last thing you want to do before your time on earth is up?

I’d like to preach a sermon that inspires churches to connect at a deeper level.

-Do you have one big regret from the past?

I am still bummed about when the Saints kept blitzing the 49ers on the last drive of a playoff game. It made no sense and to this day I regret not running out on the field to stop the madness.

-If we were to meet again in 50 years from now, what do you hope to have done or accomplished?

I hope that 50 years from now I have a brand new heart and a wrinkled face. That’s a line from one of my favorite songs.
Thank you for your time Steve and good luck on your new book and all your future endeavors and career in general.


It Is Time For the Assyrians to be Truly United With One Strong Voice


By: Abbey Mikha

Dear God protect my suffering Assyrian nation.  The young, women, men, elderly, and disabled and those suffering from mental illness.  I know its difficult to believe in God sometimes when we see our nation in such a situation, but this is when we must be strong in our faith, and realize that we need to be truly united as Assyrians with one strong voice.

There is no superpower on earth willing to help us thus far, but perhaps the Superpowers of the Universe will help us?! Dear Jesus use your powers to help your nation.  Dear Melchizedek I read once that you are at a high level in the hierarchy of heaven, so help us.  Dear Inanna or Ishtar as we call you, you have always loved the Assyrian nation, so will you love us again and help us?!  I always believed that heaven was much more powerful than even any atomic bombs on earth.  So, let it be so.  Let us witness your love and power.

Our people are dying, they have been abducted and God only knows what they are going through in this moment and what evil place they have been taken to.  Our artifacts have been destroyed in the museum of Nineveh and looted and sold in the black market by the international mafia.  The jewel of ancient civilizations, the city of Nimrud has been destroyed. Today more villages in Syria have been attacked by ISIS and our men are fighting them off with riffles and limited ammunition.  I’m afraid to ask what is next.  Why wont anyone help the Assyrians defeat this evil group of people?  Who are the powerful individuals planning for this to happen to the Assyrian nation and why?  We are being attacked by many, but we will resist and we will never give up.

 I just wish that we could say the powerful words which Queen Zenubia declared to a Roman general once, “You may have the civilization of power, but we have the power of civilization.” Help us that “power of civilization” and I say it again make us be united as one strong voice so that we can rebuild ourselves, our nation, and our Assyria.  Our spirit has been shaken for we are good sensitive humanitarian people and we are worried about the future of our nation, and of the future of humanity on earth, but until our last breath we will write about and defend our suffering nation.

The Assyrians have been massacred from 1915 until 2015.  That is a hundred years of massacre, murder, and GENOCIDE.  We may ask from heaven to help us, but we also ask, “When will the world rise up and defend the Assyrians?”  This may be your last chance.  Are we not humans, are we not people, or do you actually think still that we are not part of the chosen people?  Well I’m here to tell you there are no chosen people.  Every individual good person from any nation is chosen.  We are chosen to live too.  We want to live and we do not want to die anymore.  Let us all rise up together and end the suffering of the Assyrians one of the ancient Christian peoples of the world.


The Ancient City of Nimrud Always In Our Hearts


By: Abbey Mikha

I have been surprised by many things in my life.  I have been outraged by things which have been occurring in the past weeks in our homeland.  As I heard the news today in regards to the ancient city of Nimrud, I was questioning society and why the world is standing by idle and watching silently as this ancient city is being destroyed by ISIS terrorists?!

If Nimrud were Jericho or some other significant place for westerners, we would be hearing a whole other story unfold in American and Canadian news outlets.  There was a program on television last week.  It was supposed to be funny. Anyway, the people of the program said, “Isis is destroying artifacts in Iraq” then they said, “but what color is that dress?”  Referring to the dress that has been on the news all week.  People are wondering is the dress black and blue or gold and white.  Is this what people in America and Canada really care about?  Are they that brainwashed by the media?

The ancient city of Nimrud is a jewel of the ancient world. Everyone should be devastated at the destruction of this great ancient city.  They should be outraged.  It doesn’t matter who you are. Any god which is against the ancient people of the world is no god at all. Any god who encourages the destruction of ancient artifacts whether Lamassu or Buddha  deserves to be destroyed himself for he definitely does not exist, only in the minds of the true infidels which is ISIS and the other extremist gangs…

If the world were able to squeeze out oil from these ancient artifacts surely they would be receiving much more attention, but everyone believes these artifacts to be lifeless rubble.  What everyone doesn’t know is that the sacred Assyrian spirit resides in every wall and artifact which is supposed to be home, in its own homeland, and is today being destroyed by godless people who do not belong in this country or anywhere else.

The city of Nimrud will always live in the hearts of Assyrians and belong to the Assyrians.  This is written in the stars, just like the three pyramids of Egypt are a perfect reproduction of the three stars of Orion’s belt.  Today its the destruction of ancient Nimrud.  What is next ISIS, the pyramids in Giza?


Not for the Assyrians Mr. Walsch

17887_10153041339715851_6624592021715608757_nBy Abbey Mikha

Today my favorite author Neale Donald Walsch, who wrote “Conversations with God” posted a thought-provoking message on his Facebook page. He said, “Nothing is as bad as it seems. Nothing. There is a benefit and a blessing hidden in the folds of every experience and every outcome. That includes every and any ‘bad’ thing that may be happening to you right now. Change your perspective. Know that nothing happens ever that is not for your highest good.  All that needs to change for you to see this…is your definition of ‘Highest Good.’” I know that Mr. Walsch’s message was intended to be positive but it made me teary and questioning “logic”.  As Assyrians today his thoughts are not our reality. This is the reality of elite human beings who have countries, rights, and are allowed to dream. The Assyrians are not being afforded any privileges in their ancestral homeland. To say the least the Assyrians are being treated inhumanely in Syria today.  Assyrian teenagers protecting their families are dying in combat in Khabour at the hands of ISIS.

So, I had to respond to Mr. Walsch and let him know about our desperate situation. I said, “I believe this to be true but not for everyone Neale. My people (The Assyrians) are today facing Genocide at the hands of ISIS in Khabour, Syria. Thousands have escaped from their homes, hundreds have been kidnapped (children, women, and men) and we are afraid that we will hear of brutal murder like was done to the 21 Coptic Christian men a few weeks ago. My highest good Neale? We are commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Assyrian Genocide of 1915 at the hands of Kurds and Turks. Today it’s ISIS! The people who are under attack in Syria today are the grandchildren of those Assyrians who escaped the Semele Massacre of 1933 which was committed by the Iraqi army of those days. Please, for those of you fair minded spiritual people. Make your voices heard about this new Genocide which started in Mosul (Nineveh) Iraq a few months ago and now has moved to Khabour, Syria. They want to wipe out the Assyrians! Our little Christian nation needs good people like all of you to stand up and express your disgust and outrage at what is happening, for you stand for humanitarianism and for everything that is good in this survival of the fittest world…”

There are hundreds of thousands of people who read on this page on Facebook, so I hope my emotional appeal will work and many people from various cultures will raise their voices on behalf of the Assyrian people. I also post similar messages on the White House website on Facebook. I feel really helpless and sad about our people’s situation and I don’t know what to do. My only power is in writing how I feel about the situation, but is that enough? The answer of course is that no it’s not enough. Nothing we can do is enough and we must always do more! We must band together to stop this Genocide from going further!


How can the stories of a Pizza delivery driver and a factory worker inspire Assyrians to do more?

By: Ashur Sada

James Robertson is a factory worker in Troy, Michigan.

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Jarrid Tansey is a pizza delivery driver in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.

For those of you who haven’t heard of them-assuming the majority of you-and what is common between the two, let me give a brief background.

Both of these two men were the subjects of online fund raisers by complete strangers. For the former, his story was very inspiring and got a student to start an online fund to collect money to pay for a car, so he doesn’t have to walk some 20+ miles to get to and from work. For the latter, he was the subject of what amounted to being bullied on the job by a customer, and this in turn received some strong reactions from the online public and lots of sympathies and donations.

In both cases, the original goal for the fund was not only reached but completely shattered. For Mr. Robertson, the original goal was $5,000 which was broken in a matter of hours. It was then raised to $25,000, which was also reached in less than 24 hours. By the 11th day, an astonishing $350K was raised for him! Mr. Tansey may not have been as lucky, but he too got close to $30,000 in donations from complete strangers online.


Online funding for Assyrian causes

So what, if anything, can these two stories teach us as Assyrians? they are great examples of what online funding can do for people and causes. What if we attempted the same thing with Assyrians? say we launched an online funding campaign to do one of the following:

-Help an Assyrian family in need
-Donate to arm an Assyrian defense force in Iraq or Syria
-Give money to help build an Assyrian church in a certain city
-Donate to help build an Assyrian library
-Give money to help Assyrian students make a trip of a lifetime to their homeland

One such online fund-raiser was already done. It was a fund-raiser for Assyrian activist Suzy Younan to help her travel to Iraq to provide humanitarian relief for Assyrians displaced from the Nineveh Plain by the recent ISIS onslaught. So what were the results? While encouraging, you would think such a noble cause would have generated a lot more money or at least met the goal of $25,000. The end result was $13,290! That is $11,710 short of the goal set. But Suzy and her travel companions made the best of these donations and helped as many people as they can.

But it is so much more than just the money. It is about sending a message of support, unity and sympathy. If so much money can be raised for two individuals, by complete strangers, why can’t we raise a lot more money for more urgent needs and much nobler causes? If the plight of Assyrians living in tens, in extreme weather conditions doesn’t get us to open our wallets, what will?

In the past, we have come across so many different Assyrian fund-raisers and for different causes and rarely did I see one that matched or exceeded its goal, no matter what the objective was.  Whether it is a trust issue or one of laziness and lacking of generosity, we just don’t do enough to help those in need.

Assyrian Aid Society and ACERO are the two most established and credible Assyrian charities out there. I trust them with my life, never mind my money.  The two have achieved some success in convincing Assyrians to open their wallets to those in needs. They have done a great job of matching donors’ money with those who need it the most. But even they (ACERO and AAS) can do a lot better, if more people become more generous and comfortable with donating their money, especially online.

Despite all of this, the responsibility actually starts with the fund-raiser organizers first, rather than the donors. If the organizers (i.e those who run AAS, ACERO etc.) do a good job of explaining where the money is going, publishing regular reports, posting their accounting online, people will be a lot more trusting and give more of their money. If you go to the two organizations’ respective websites, you will find that both do an excellent job of being accountable with the money they collect from donors. Moreover, their own directors and founders are often on the ground, helping with the relief effort themselves.

Unlike other ethnic groups who may have richer groups and nations behind them, Assyrians only have themselves to support their own. The responsibility and stakes are higher. We simply can’t run away from it and hope that someone else will donate. The ‘by-stander effect’ doesn’t apply here! Each has to do their work. When you go to church on Sunday morning, you don’t tell yourself “I won’t put anything in the basket today, other people are doing that already.”  Why would you treat Assyrian charity any differently? You can donate once or you set a reminder in your calendar to donate multiple times a year. For example, if you believe in ACERO and AAS, you can set a reminder in your smartphone to donate to each one every other month. For example, on January, you donate to AAS, on February you donate to ACERO and so on. If each or most of us did this, the two organizations would have more than enough money to help almost every Assyrian in need.

And when all else fails, put yourself in someone else’s shoes: image you are one of thousands of people who used to live in Mosul or the Nineveh Plain, and were driven out from there by ISIS and have lost your home and all that you built in your lifetime. You are now living in dirty tents under such extreme wintery conditions. Your kids don’t even have a proper blanket to cover themselves, let alone a proper bed to sleep in or a good meal to enjoy. Would you not want people to donate and help you get out of this misery? I am sure you would! Count your lucky stars. You are not living this miserable life. You are sitting comfortably in your home and your kids are well-fed and taken care of. The least you can do is to help these needy Assyrians by making a donation.

Next time you come across an Assyrian fund for a noble cause, don’t hesitate to reach for your wallet or credit card and donate. It will help someone who is in extreme hardship. People did it a pizza delivery driver and a factory worker, whose condition was not nearly as bad as what our Assyrian people are enduring.


5 health and social benefits of Assyrian dance (Khiga)

By: Ashur Sada


Ever noticed that a lot of the good Assyrian dancers are often slim and in good shape? is that a coincidence? could be, but it could

Assyrian dancing (Khiga) has a lot of social and health benefits

Assyrian dancing (Khiga) has a lot of social and health benefits

also be that dancing helps them stay in shape.

If a scientific study was done on Assyrian dance (khiga) they would find so many health and social benefits. Let us go through some of them:

1-Get to see everyone dancing: when dancing, you will go through everyone else that is dancing, at least once. This is an easy and quick way to see people, without having to stop and chat to them.

2-See new people: related to the earlier point about seeing people you know, Assyrian dance, given its mobile nature, is great for people watching. It lets you see new people, new styles, new ways of dancing etc. You are observing others and seeing new things and faces.

3-Great exercise: when it comes to Assyrian weddings, most are held at big banquet halls. If you look at the size of an average hall, it is almost as big and wide as half a football field. Even one or two laps of dancing around the hall will help you burn so many calories and give you a much needed workout. All while having fun. And for those that dance a lot during the night, you can burn most or all the calories you just gained from eating at the wedding.

4-Music becomes more fun: ever noticed, music is more fun and enjoyable when you dance to it than just listening? and as the beat goes, so goes your body, and that all makes the experience that much more fun.

5-Great mind and body booster: dancing in general helps boost the mind and body. It is an exercise after all, and exercising is always good for the mind and body. In the specific case of Assyrian dancing, where there is a lot of mileage, you get to exercise your stress out and sweat your calories away. That all translates into feeling better about yourself and having  a sharper mind. Anecdotally, I have observed that my friends, shortly after finishing a round of Assyrian dancing, come up with some nice things to talk about and usually sound more confident and open-minded. That, my friend, is the effect of Assyrian dancing.

As you can see, Assyrian dancing is more than just going in circles. It has a whole range of social and health benefits. And I didn’t even get into the cultural aspect of Assyrian dancing and how significant it is in that regard as well.  So the next time you are at an Assyrian wedding or party, remember, traditional Assyrian dancing (be it Khiga, Khiga yaqoora, Sheykhani, Belati, Saskani, Toulama etc.) has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious ones. Needless to say, it will improve your health, boost your confidence and connect you better with people around you.


Why did the chaldean parties fail miserably again at the recent Iraqi elections?

Parliamentary elections were held in Iraq on 30 April 2014 to select the 328 members of the Council of Representatives.  assyrian chaldean in iraqi elections failureThese in turn will elect the Iraqi President and Prime Minister.

Our Assyrian Chaldean Syriac politicians and parties were also very active in this election, vying for the 5 seats allocated for the ‘Christian quota’.  There was a total of 9 lists representing our people in Iraq and these were:

298: Sons of Mesopotamia
299: Al-Warkaa Democratic List
300: Al-Rafidain List (Zowaa)
301: Bet Nahrain National Coalition
302:  Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council (KRG affiliated)
303: Babylon List
304: Souraya National Coalition
305: Ur National List
306: Shlama Entity


Of those, lists number 303 and 305 had relatively or majority chaldean representatives and were heavy on promises for reviving chaldean politics and aspirations.  Problem is, many or most were based on empty rhetoric, one that serves no one but the candidates themselves in most cases.  Moreover,  most of their platforms was heavy on anti-Assyrian agendas, as if Assyrians are the one and only problem facing our chaldean brothers in Iraq and outside of Iraq.

This brings us to the following question: why do chaldean politicians and platforms keep failing in winning in Iraqi elections? to be clear, it is not necessarily about the candidate being a chaldean. It is about their platform and its separatist aspirations.  After decades of useless divisions, our people are tired of these divisions and are making it clear at the ballot box. We want unity and not someone who makes false claims and empty promises about ‘restoring Babylon to its former glory’. By all means, if you can do that, go ahead, liberate Babylon and reestablish it again. Last time I checked, Babylon is inhabited by Arab Muslims and has virtually no Christians living there.  Our true home is in Nineveh, more specifically the ‘Nineveh Plain’, where the majority of Assyrians now live and happens to be where the former great Assyrian empire once stood.  That is where we should focus our attention, hopefully getting our own province there, and not on a false promise to ‘bring back Babylon’!

Our politicians, like most have been doing in the last few years, should instead focus their energy on unity. Nothing else matters in this day in age. With unity, we can do a lot.

To these chaldean politicians who keep lying to the people and screaming their lungs out about serving the chaldean people and their political aspirations, just do yourself and your people a favor and stop it. This is not what people want anymore, even if those close to you-cousins and friends-tell you otherwise.


Facebook now wasting valuable time from Assyrians’ already busy schedules

By: Ashur Sada


As if Assyrians didn’t have enough distractions, you can now add spending hours and hours on Facebook to the list.  We already

Assyrians are increasingly wasting more and more valuable time on Facebook. Time they could have and better used it on more useful things like reading, working out, volunteering, family time etc.

had Turkish soap operas on satellite dishes to make even the most active of Assyrian mothers and wives into very immobile, lazy and stationary creatures, glued to the TV for hours-or to a computer-watching non-stop Turkish soap operas. Ask any Assyrian or Middle Eastern female about the name ‘Mohanad’ and they will tell you everything about him before you are even done asking the question. For the record, he is a blonde, blue-eyed Turkish actor whom ladies find very handsome and attractive.

And while Assyrian ladies are busy watching Turkish soap operas and non-stop Arabic songs and movies on satellite dishes, Assyrian men are busy at coffee shops and other places of socialization, wasting even more time. In other words, both have enough time-wasting activities to ensure not much is left for useful and educational things (i.e reading, house work, volunteering, working secondary jobs, working out etc.)

Then came Facebook…

As if things weren’t already bad enough, we then had Facebook to worry about (in addition to the other already time-wasting online activities, including Paltalk, Youtube etc.) But when Facebook came, the number of hours in a day for Assyrians remained fixed at 24 and didn’t increase. So Assyrian parents and even younger generations now had to prioritize. How do you divide your day between watching Arabic and Turkish soap operas, be able to go to coffee shops and be on Facebook for hours? And if you were unfortunate enough to have a job, you had even less hours to do all of these. Here are some examples:

  • Unemployed:
    -Wake up at 12 PM
    -Go online till 1 PM
    -Start watching the dish till 6 PM
    -Go to your local coffee shop to socialize and waste more time
    -Be home by 9 PM and go online to waste more time on Facebook, Youtube etc.
  • Employed
    -Wake up at 8 AM and go to work
    -Come back home at 5 PM and spend some time online, but not much, because you have to go out
    -Spend your early evening at the local coffee shop to socialize
    -Come home and go on Facebook for hours until it is time to sleep

Now to be fair, some have become creative and started multitasking to be able to enjoy as many of these activities at once, without missing a beat. For example, some can now be found at their local coffee shop, with a mobile phone glued to their hand, so they can be connected to Facebook while being with their friends drinking coffee and socializing. While others have either installed a TV in their rooms or bought a laptop/table to be able to be on Facebook while watching satellite TV.   And there are some who  have ingeniously combined all three activities. This last group is to be commended for their time and multitasking creativity!

Seriously, is there a middle ground? there is nothing wrong with doing any of these activities, or even all 3 together. But it is all about moderation.  Do we have enough time left for family, kids, reading, studying, working around the house, working a second job, learning something new, working out etc.?  Think about the time people-not just Assyrians-are wasting on Facebook. It is mind-boggling. Hours that can easily be spent on something much more advantageous.  If we were to assume that Assyrian Facebook/Cafe/Dish addicts are spending  and average of 3-5 hours on these activities everyday, that is a lot of wasted time that could have been spent doing something much more useful.  That is enough time to make a good secondary income from a PT job, finish a course in a few weeks or even volunteer doing something at a local charity or church.  And if all of that is not possible, how about doing some reading, even if that reading is done online. Given all the vast and free information at our fingertips, it is a crime for us not to make use of it.  And even if you are going to spend time on Youtube for example, you can find thousands upon thousands of tutorial and educational videos, from which you can learn a lot. Wasting time while learning and gaining nothing is simply stupid.

This post may have a few generalizations, exaggeration and assumptions but the message is clear: Facebook, as useful as it may be at times, is wasting valuable time from us. Time that could be spent doing other more productive things.   Our world is moving at a very rapid pace and competition is fiercer and more global than ever before. We need to do our best to be ready for what is to come and ensure we have an even better generation coming up. Put down the remote and mouse and grab a book instead. Even if for just 15 minutes!


Using crowd-sourcing to count the Assyrian population worldwide

If you were to ask 10 different Assyrians about the population of Assyrians around the world, you would probably get 10

assyrian population

What is the true Assyrian population worldwide?

different varying answers. And it is likely that none of the answers would be accurate enough.  And we can’t blame any of them for such a discrepancy, since there has been no worldwide effort made at counting the true Assyrian population.

For starters, it all depends on how you count and who you are including etc.  For example, do you include Assyrians from all church affiliations, including those who don’t admit to their Assyrian ethnicity? Once you have a criteria in place for who should be counted, you then move to the actual step of  counting the population. But how do you count them? Even after agreeing on a criteria on who should be included, what is the methodology?


Say hello to ‘crowd-sourcing’, a new phenomenon that is revolutionizing the way we work and interact across cultures and continents. So what is this fancy word and how can it help Assyrians in counting their population accurately? it is simply a process that involves outsourcing tasks to a distributed group of people, for an eventual and unified common goal. In this case, you would leverage the power of online users for the task of counting the population of all Assyrians worldwide.

Given the power of internet and crowd-sourcing, this could be one project we can all work on together. Here is how:

Different people from different cities can volunteer to represent their cities and regions for this project (where significant and large Assyrian populations live)  These volunteers will  go to their local churches or even social clubs and try to get figures of how many registered members/families/individuals they have. Then we can all add up these figures.  For example, the Assyrian church of the East, here in Toronto, has about 1200 registered families in their database. Assuming every family is 4 individuals, that means we have close to 5000 Assyrians going to this church. That would be a good start. Then you have to account for those who are not registered or go to a different church and so on.  To make this project more accurate and successful, it would help if the volunteers or at least some of them had a good background in statistics and census-counting.

To ensure accuracy and proper oversight of the data collected, there has to be a central database to gather, manage and tabulate all the data coming from different sources. There would also have to be a system of ‘double checks’ to ensure the data being gathered is as accurate as possible.  Slowly but collectively, using the power of online crowd-sourcing, we can come up with a better number and more accurate number.

In addition to some of the issues already mentioned at the top, there would surely be other obstacles facing such a massive project. For one, how do you account for regions that are sparsely populated by Assyrians (less than 100 people)? Another is the issue of getting conflicting numbers from different sources and trying to consolidate them. For example, the church in a certain city may give out one number while a popular social club in the same city may give out a totally different number, even though it is a known fact that the two entities are attended by mostly the same members. This is where more research is needed to reach an accurate figure.

A project to count or estimate the true worldwide Assyrian population would take more than a few weeks or even months to conclude. It could possibly take years, until all efforts have been exhausted to get to every region and center where Assyrians live. And even when that has been done, double or even triple checks have to be done.

Once a good number has been reached, what can we do with such a number and data? To some, it may not be worth all this effort just to get to one number. But in reality, such a number will be of vast importance to Assyrians, for many reasons and implications. To start, it could help their case politically, arguing that Assyrians are not a small minority, but one that numbers in the millions.  The bigger the number the more weight it bears on the UN and other humanitarian and political agencies.  It would also help us culturally in that it could increase worldwide efforts to save our language and heritage. And last but not least, it is important for us Assyrians. To have a good idea how many Assyrians there are in the world, it will increase our own passion and awareness of our nation and drive the idea that the Assyrian population, despite all the genocides committed against it, has risen again and is alive and well.