Archive for June 2007

Are Chaykhanas Ruining the Assyrian Family?

How could a simple cup of tea or coffee, playing cards and some buddies, be a threat to an entire society? Well they shouldn’t be, but for some Assyrians, it is! We are talking about Assyrians’ male obsession with Assyrian Café places, or as we call them ‘Chaykhana’ But what is with this fixation and addiction to these bloody tea pubs? Sure they could be fun and a good place of socializing with friends, but Assyrians take it too far sometimes, especially the married amongst us. Unfortunately, every hour spent at these cafes, is an hour taken away from being with the family. And the result is nothing less than a further erosion of family values and union.

For anyone reading this, you must know of at least one or more Assyrian relatives who spend more time in the Chaykhana after work, than they do with the family. This minority of careless husbands, Chaykhana-loving, family-abandoning men, becomes a majority when magnified under the microscope of society. An Assyrian wife is almost cheated on before she even gets engaged. As marriage life begins for Assyrian couples, and where a couple starts building their social nest, the two have to be together and sharing some good company in the presence of one another. Not for our subjects here, where the wife endures some lonely nights, waiting for her husband to come back and join her on the dinner table or even on the bed. He is too busy cheating with his beloved triad: his cup of tea, playing cards, and his buddies!

There has to be some solution to this, don’t you think? It starts with the very husband, how he is raised, and who his friends are. Sure, we are getting better, in that we are no longer spending most of our time at a Chaykhana, but have substituted that with a Tim Horton’s or a Dunken Donuts. And believe me, not only is the coffee better at Tim Horton’s, you are at least allowed and even encouraged to bring your wife to meet up with other family friends and relatives there. Yes, Tim Hortons and other coffee places, are the North American version of our Chaykhana, but at a much more modernized social level. Assyrians’ lack of any true community and social clubs, also contributes to this social disorder, so-called ‘Chaykhana.’ The key is to keep the ‘chaykhana-goers’ as busy and as occupied with their life, family and jobs, as possible. This way, they have a meaning in life, and will look for better things than to wait for the evening to be able to flock to the café.

There is nothing wrong with Assyrian Café places, also known as chaykhane. There is also, absolutely nothing wrong with the men and people who go there. What is wrong is in turning these places into worshiping destinations for a lot of men, and making them their nightly living place. Your average Khinzada, Helane, and Najeeba deserve better than to be left at home alone, as if they are with no husbands. Not sure how the Assyrian Chaykhana-loving crowd will like my words, but I guess I need to start frequenting these places more often, to get to their heads. Boy, I already feel the heat!


Calling for Mar Dinkha to meet with an Iraqi Sunni Terrorist

“Harith Al Thari is a criminal mass murderer and a terrorist” is what a lot of Iraqis would refer to Al-Thari. He is no less of a terrorist than Al-Zarqawi was, or Bin Laden still is. So who is he? Al-Thari is the head of the influential Iraqi Sunni ‘Association of Muslim Scholars’, which was formed in 2003, following the liberation of Iraq from the former Ba’ath regime. Since its inception, the association, and despite its religious nature, has had very close ties with the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Over the last few years, he has fired one controversial comment after another.

Iraqis, especially those against the insurgency, would have been very happy if someone could put a glue to his mouth, or if he was born speech-impaired. Al-Thari has been out of Iraq for over a year now, and is wanted by Iraqi authorities on charges of supporting the insurgency and terrorism in Iraq. Despite all of this, I think our Patriarch Mar Dinkha should seek an opportunity to meet with this evil man. Why? it is one of the few things we can do, to stop the violence against our people. Let me elaborate.

“Mar Dinkha should use the excuse of ‘finding common
solutions for the problems in Iraq’ as a means of initiating
something with this man”

It is a known fact that Al-Thari has close ties with the insurgency and even Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He has a high influence amongst the Sunnis, especially in Western Iraq, where insurgency runs high. Moreover, and despite being out of Iraq now, he still gets in touch with the local insurgent leaders in the country. But the key thing to emphasize here, is that he is outside of Iraq; currently in Egypt. That puts him under the spotlight little more than if he was in the lawlessness of Iraq. This is an opportunity for his holiness Mar Dinkha to seek to meet with him.

Basically, Mar Dinkha should use the excuse of ‘finding common solutions for the problems in Iraq’ as a means of initiating something with this man. Once the meeting is up, Mar Dinkha should deviate from the topic of violence in Iraq, to something more specific: the violence committed by Al-Thari’s groups against Mar Dinkha’s Assyrian and Christian communities in Baghdad. Once cornered, a condemnation or even a call to halt violence against Christians, is not an impossible task, despite the given hard and violent nature of this imam. Yes, he is an Imam, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Al-Thari is a religious figure, at least in the nature of his status and what he does. But lately, he has been more seen on the political scene than to be concerned with religion. In fact, he also uses politics to launch his religious Fatwa and other despicable acts against innocent Iraqi civilians. Mar Dinkha on the other hand, is a religious figure by nature and status (although many will disagree with this statement.) Nevertheless, Mar Dinkha has involved himself in politics too lately, be it voluntarily or given the situation our nation is going through. That makes him capable and suitable for a meeting with Al-Thari. But why Mar Dinkha, and not someone like Mr.Younadam Kanna, the secretary of Zowaa, and a member of Iraq’s parliament? Well for one thing, and despite his huge political experience, Mr. Kanna wouldn’t be allowed to meet with Harith Al-Thari, given the Iraqi government’s warrant against him. Mar Dinkha has no such restriction put on him.

Moreover, we would have more chances of success when Mar Dinkha is on the table than if another pure politician was on the table. Al-Thari, and much like other terrorists that he supports, is not a man that would deal in logic or negotiation. But given his religious status, he would have an easier time relating to Mar Dinkha than to a non-religious figure.

It is inevitable that the jaws of many people reading this, have already dropped, in disbelief for my call for our Patriarch to meet with a terrorist. It indeed is an odd thing to be calling for, but it will probably and possibly lead to some consensus. We could even hope that the meeting would lead to a denouncement by Al-Thari against the unfair criminal acts being committed against the innocent Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Mar Dinkha can use his warmth and influence to let Al-Thari know that Assyrians are innocent and shouldn’t be targeted by his groups. If the late Pope John Paul II was able to meet face to face, with his would-be killer, it should be a much easier task to see our patriarch meeting up with this violent imam. After all, why not use some bible-inspired peace, to solve one more piece of the big Iraqi puzzle.