Archive for December 2010

Say no to a “Christian Province” in Iraq. Say Yes to an “Assyrian Province” in Iraq

For the first time in recent memory, representatives from almost every major Assyrian party and movement met in northern Iraq to discuss Assyrians’ future in Iraq, following the horrific and bloody ‘Baghdad Church Massacre

The major theme and topic of discussion of the meetings was the safety of our people and their future in Iraq. More specifically, a big part of these meetings was dedicated to the possibility of forming a ‘Christian Province’ in Northern Iraq, where the current Assyrian-populated ‘Nineveh Plain’ region is.  A full-fledged province where our people have the freedom to administer and manage their own politics and affairs within a federal Iraq.

Yes, a ‘Christian Province’, not an Assyrian one. There is something seriously wrong with this very term.  In fact, there is a lot wrong with it, and I will try to go over most of them.

First, the very term ‘Christian Province’ is wrong. How can you give it a religious name in a country like Iraq, surrounded by Muslim countries with lots of fanatics and radicals. This is an easy invitation for them to target our people even more.  Can you imagine planting a satellite state for the Vatican in Iraq? Don’t think that will go very well with lots of people in the region.

Being a Christian is not an ethnic identity, but rather a religious one.  Moreover, this is a historical area where Assyrians have lived, thousands of years before Christianity had formed.

Is this area supposed to be for any Christians? what if it is a Christian Kurd? Christian Arab? etc. Sure, this will be an open province, and anyone is welcome. But most importantly,  it is a province based on an ethnic group, who are already Christians to begin with. So we don’t need to identify it as being a Christian province. That is already established. What is not established and needs to be made known, is that this province or area, is to be inhabited and administered by Assyrians, the same indigenous people who have been there for thousands of years.

The more dangerous implication to calling this a ‘Christian’ rather than an ‘Assyrian’ province, is the hidden agenda from the outside. Calling  it a Christian province is a ploy to erase our history and identity.  This is the same ploy used to refer to our people in the north as ‘Christian Kurds’ rather than what they really are and have always been: ASSYRIANS!

By referring to this area as a Christian area, you are also referring to its inhabitants as Christians first and foremost. But if you call it what it should really be called, an Assyrian area, then even if our people don’t make up the majority there one day, we still won’t risk losing our identity.

In the rush and excitement of getting our own province in Iraq, we may lose sight of what is more important and what this area means to our existence in Iraq and the region. If we are worried about our survival as Christians, we can move to the west, where our survival is guaranteed. On the other hand, if we are worried about our survival as Assyrians in the long term, then migrating to the west is only a short term solution.

We need an Assyrian province that will protect both our people as well as their cultural and historical survival. And by extension, that will ensure their survival as Christians in Iraq.

We could give this new area any one of the following names, including ‘Ashur’, ‘Nineveh Plain’, ‘Beth Nahrain’ etc. These are names that are both historically and geographically accurate.

It would be nice to have our own province. Our people have suffered enough in Iraq and it is time they are protected in their own region, away from all political, ethnic and religious prosecutions.  But let us also ensure that we take the time to think about what this region will be called. We can’t just ignore this issue.

Our enemies may not mind an area to call our own, as long as it doesn’t have an Assyrian name and culture embedded into it. They would rather see a Christian province instead where our culture and identity is no longer a priority.

Say NO to a Christian Province in Iraq. Say YES to an Assyrian Province in Iraq