Posts

Azerbaijan moves to obliterate its Armenian Christian past, destroying 89 medieval churches, Christian artifacts

Islamic jihadists want to destroy the artifacts of non-Muslim civilizations, because doing so testifies to the truth of Islam, as the Qur’an suggests that the destroyed remnants of ancient non-Muslim civilizations are a sign of Allah’s punishment of those who rejected his truth:

Many were the Ways of Life that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth. (Qur’an 3:137)

This is one of the foundations of the Islamic idea that pre-Islamic civilizations, and non-Islamic civilizations, are all jahiliyya — the society of unbelievers, which is worthless. Obviously this cuts against the idea of tourism of ancient sites and non-Muslim religious installations. V. S. Naipaul encountered this attitude in his travels through Muslim countries. For many Muslims, he observed in Among the Believers, “The time before Islam is a time of blackness: that is part of Muslim theology. History has to serve theology.” Naipaul recounted that some Pakistani Muslims, far from valuing the nation’s renowned archaeological site at Mohenjo Daro, saw its ruins as a teaching opportunity for Islam, recommending that Qur’an 3:137 be posted there as a teaching tool.

“A Regime Conceals Its Erasure of Indigenous Armenian Culture,” by Simon Maghakyan and Sarah Pickman, HyperAllergic.com, February 18, 2019:

In April 2011, when a US Ambassador traveled to Azerbaijan, on the southwestern edge of the former USSR, he was denied access to the riverside borderland that separates this South Caucasus nation from Iran. But it was not a foreign foe that halted the visit. Instead, his Azerbaijani hosts insisted that the envoy’s planned investigation inside the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan (officially, Naxçıvan Autonomous Republic) could not proceed because it was motivated by fake news. The ambassador had intended to probe the reported destruction of thousands of historical Medieval Christian Armenian artworks and objects at the necropolis of Djulfa in Nakhichevan. This cemetery is recorded to have once boasted the world’s largest collection of khachkars — distinctive Armenian cross-stones. However, according to Azerbaijani officials this reported destruction was a farce, that the site had not been disturbed, because it never existed in the first place. Despite ample testimony to the contrary, Azerbaijan claims that Nakhichevan was never Armenian.

Incompatible narratives of historical rights and wrongs have long bedeviled the unresolved Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Following the Russian Empire’s WWI-era collapse, Armenia and Azerbaijan emerged as short-lived independent states. Since centuries of imperial warfare over the strategic Armenian Highland had diversified the region’s ethnic makeup, newly-independent Armenia and Azerbaijan confronted overlapping territorial claims. Soon after the Bolsheviks took power in the area, they formalized two disputed regions — Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan — as autonomies within Soviet Azerbaijan.While Nagorno-Karabakh preserved a majority Armenian population, Nakhichevan’s longstanding Armenian communities dwindled over the twentieth century. In 1988, Nagorno-Karabakh sought unification with Soviet Armenia. Leaving Azerbaijan was necessary, Nagorno-Karabakh’s majority-Armenian population claimed, to preserve the region’s indigenous Christian past and to avoid the fate of Nakhichevan’s vanished Armenians. Amid Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika, Nagorno-Karabakh became a war zone.

Since the 1994 ceasefire among newly-independent Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno-Karabakh, mutual accusations of vandalism and revisionism have been rampant. Azerbaijan’s president protests that “all of our mosques in occupied Azerbaijani lands have been destroyed.” A visitor to Armenia-backed Nagorno-Karabakh (also called Artsakh in Armenian) would observe otherwise: there are mosques, albeit nonoperational, including one in the devastated “buffer zone” ghost town Agdam.

Yet a tourist in Nakhichevan, which was not a war zone, would encounter neither Armenian heritage sites nor public acknowledgment of the region’s far-reaching Armenian roots, including the medieval global trade networks launched by Djulfa’s innovative merchants. These merchants’ legacies, documented in Sebouh Aslanian’s From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, include the legendary treasures of the “Adventure Prize” ship pirated in 1698 by celebrated outlaw Captain Kidd. In addition, according to Ina McCabe’s Orientalism in Early Modern France, many of Europe’s first cafés were founded by these Djulfa (Julfan) merchants in the seventeenth century — contributing to a culture that, as Adam Gopnik writes in The New Yorker’s last issue of 2018, “helped lay the foundation for the liberal Enlightenment.” Save for appropriated Armenian folklore linking the region to the Biblical Noah, whose ark was said to have landed on nearby Mount Ararat, Nakhichevan’s Armenian past has all but been erased.

Photographic Memories

Unlike the self-publicized cultural destruction of ISIS, independent Azerbaijan’s covert campaign to re-engineer Nakhichevan’s historical landscape between 1997 and 2006 is little known outside the region. But one man, Armenia-based researcher Argam Ayvazyan, anticipated the systematic destruction decades before.

Ayvazyan feared that Nakhichevan’s Armenian material heritage was destined to disappear, like its indigenous Armenians already had. The region’s Armenian population shrunk following the 1921 treaties of Kars and Moscow, in which Turkish negotiators secured the disputed territory as an exclave under the administration of Soviet Azerbaijan. Ayvazyan was barely 17 when he started photographing the cultural heritage of his native Nakhichevan. From 1964 to 1987, he collected enough documentation to ultimately publish 200 articles and over 40 books. His photographic missions were self-financed, undercover, dangerous, and supported by his closest companion: “My wife, a teacher, was my number one pillar,” recalls Ayvazyan, “she never once complained about my prolonged absences, financial hardships, or being our children’s primary caretaker.” By the time the Berlin Wall fell, Ayvazyan had documented 89 Armenian churches, 5,840 ornate khachkars, and 22,000 horizontal tombstones, among other Armenian monuments. His affection for Nakhichevan’s artifacts was not confined to Christian sites: Ayvazyan also surveyed the region’s seven Islamic mausoleums and 27 mosques.

Treading carefully while researching contentious sites is a skill Ayvazyan learned early in his work. In 1965, after being taken to a police station for photographing a church near his birthplace, Ayvazyan received a warning from a visiting KGB chief, who treated the teenage offender to tea. In a recent interview with the authors, Ayvazyan recalled that Comrade Heydar Aliyev told him in Russian, “Never again do such things, there are no Armenian-Shmarmenian things here!” Four years later, Comrade Aliyev would become Soviet Azerbaijan’s leader and then, in 1993, president of independent Azerbaijan. “Who knew,” Ayvazyan tells Hyperallergic, “that the man who told me not to photograph churches would 30 years later launch their annihilation.” Ayvazyan became increasingly cautious. For example, when it came to surveying the interior of Nakhichevan’s preeminent cathedral in the town of Agulis in September 1972, he asked an elderly local matriarch, Marus, to escort him to a potentially hostile encounter. As the last Armenian resident of a nearby village, she knew how to speak softly with the Azerbaijani community of Agulis. There, Marus convinced locals to unlock the sealed Saint Thomas cathedral, which tradition states was founded as a chapel by Bartholomew the Apostle. Marus insisted that Ayvazyan was suffering from an illness that, he believed, could only be eased by solitary time spent inside the cathedral.

Post-Communist Manifesto

In August 2005 the region’s authorities detained another visiting scholar. Scottish researcher Steven Sim had traveled to post-Soviet Nakhichevan to assess the condition of the Armenian churches photographed earlier by Ayvazyan. Instead of medieval churches, Sim found vacant plots with no vegetation. His police interrogators had a quick response as to why there was nothing for Sim to study: “Armenians came here and took photographs … then went back to their country and inserted into them photographs of churches in Armenia … There were no Armenians ever living here — so how could there have been churches here?!,” he was told. At the end of the interrogation, Sim was given until midnight to exit Nakhichevan, leaving with photographs of empty lots. But at least some of the toppled headstones of Djulfa, which he had seen from his window during a train ride, were still there. Because of its prominent location on an international border, Djulfa — spelled varyingly and originating from the Armenian “Jugha” — had survived.

Four months later, in December 2005, an Iranian border patrol alerted the Prelate of Northern Iran’s Armenian Church that the vast Djulfa cemetery, visible across the border in Azerbaijan, was under military attack. Bishop Nshan Topouzian and his driver rushed to video tape over 100 Azerbaijani soldiers, armed with sledgehammers, dump trucks, and cranes, destroying the cemetery’s remaining 2,000 khachkars; over 1,000 had already been purged in 1998 and 2002.

The helpless bishop officiated a tearful memorial service for the disturbed dead as the heart-wrenching scenes and screeching sounds of the obliteration continued across the border. Photographs from 2006 taken from the Iranian side of the border showed that a military rifle range had been erected where the cemetery used to be, presumably by Azerbaijan’s armed forces, to rationalize the existence of the freshly flattened soil. Likely due to three factors — its noticeable position on an international border, reputation as the world’s largest collection of khachkars, and previously voiced Armenian concerns for its preservation — Djulfa was the last major Armenian site in Nakhichevan to be destroyed. Its 2005–2006 demolition was the “grand finale” of Azerbaijan’s eradication of Nakhichevan’s Armenian past.

Since Azerbaijan banned international fact-finders from visiting Nakhichevan, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) employed remote sensing technologies in its pioneer investigation into cultural destruction. Their 2010 geospatial study concluded that “satellite evidence is consistent with reports by observers on the ground who have reported the destruction of Armenian artifacts in the Djulfa cemetery.” In November 2013, dressed in the guise of a pilgrim to a Djulfa chapel now preserved on the Iranian side of the border, one of the authors of this article saw desolate grasslands across the river in Azerbaijan. The breathtakingly ornate stones of the world’s largest medieval Armenian cemetery were no more. Except for the peculiarity of flat fields on otherwise uneven terrain, it was as if no human had ever touched the landscape, just as Azerbaijani leaders intended.

Rebuttal by Baku

“Absolutely false and slanderous information … [fabricated by] the Armenian lobby.” These were the words used by Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev — successor to and son of KGB-leader-turned-President Heydar Aliyev — to describe reports of Djulfa’s destruction in an April 2006 speech. Dismissing any criticism as “Armenian propaganda” has been commonplace in Azerbaijan since war gripped South Caucasus in the early 1990s. By the time a fragile Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire was signed in 1994, this conflict — the Nagorno-Karabakh war — had scarred the wider region. It caused tens of thousands of deaths on both sides and many more displaced refugees, the majority of whom were Azerbaijanis from surrounding territories that the otherwise island-shaped Nagorno-Karabakh considers its existential guarantee. “After its defeat and suffering at the hands of the Armenians,” reflected Black Garden author Thomas de Waal on Azerbaijan’s post-war rhetoric, which came to include denial of the WWI-era Armenian Genocide, “[Baku] wanted to assert Azerbaijan’s right to victimhood too.” Azerbaijan’s narrative includes Armenian aggression, ethnic cleansing, massacre in Khojaly, occupation, and anti-Azerbaijan propaganda spread by the well-connected Armenian Diaspora.

But historical revisionism in Azerbaijan challenging Armenian antiquity predates the bloody 1990s war by decades. In the mid-1950s, writes Victor Schnirelmann in the Russian-language book Memory Wars, Azerbaijani historiographers initiated an anti-Armenian agenda. Such a shift likely occurred in response to the rebellious cultural awakening in Armenia, which, as Armenian-American scholar Pietro Shakarian argues, was among the first Soviet republics to experience the “Thaw” and de-Stalinization. Each new argument of the anti-Armenian revisionism, writes Schnirelmann, “inflamed the imagination of the Azerbaijani authors.” In 1975, for instance, a Soviet Azerbaijani construction project demolished the ancient Holy Trinity church, the site of Arab invaders’ mass burning of Armenian noblemen in 705 CE. At the time of the demolition, Azerbaijani historian Ziya Bunyadov downplayed the destruction. Wrecking the church was insignificant since the “real” Holy Trinity, Bunyadov abruptly claimed, was located outside Azerbaijan. A decade later, as the Soviet Union was crumbling, Azerbaijani historians claimed that the churches and cross-stones of Nakhichevan were not the work of medieval Armenians but that of long-gone “Caucasian Albanians,” whom many Azerbaijanis consider to be ancestors, even though the extinct nation’s geographic distribution never included Nakhichevan. But, after the region’s last remaining traces of Christianity were expunged in 2005–2006, the Azerbaijani authorities abandoned discussions of “Caucasian Albanians,” and began promoting Nakhichevan as the bedrock of an “ancient and medieval Turkish-Islamic culture,” without reference to its deep Christian past….

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Yevhen1971 from Pixabay.

VIDEO: Christianity and Islam — Two Visions of Humanity

On January 21, 2019, I had the honor of speaking at the Christian Rights and Freedom Institute in Naples, Florida, on the Muslim persecution of Christians. I explained why those Muslims who do persecute Christians actually think that when they do so, they’re doing something right and righteous.

EDITORS NOTE: This video is courtesy of the Christian Rights and Freedom Institute.

U.S. Catholic bishops welcomes block of Trump immigration ban

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution.”

About those refugees who are coming in order to persecute non-Muslims, Vazquez was silent. This is what he doesn’t want you to know: Somali Muslim migrant Mohammad Barry in February 2016 stabbed multiple patrons at a restaurant owned by an Israeli Arab Christian; Ahmad Khan Rahami, an Afghan Muslim migrant, in September 2016 set off bombs in New York City and New Jersey; Arcan Cetin, a Turkish Muslim migrant, in September 2016 murdered five people in a mall in Burlington, Washington; Dahir Adan, another Somali Muslim migrant, in October 2016 stabbed mall shoppers in St. Cloud while screaming “Allahu akbar”; and Abdul Razak Artan, yet another Somali Muslim migrant, in November 2016 injured nine people with car and knife attacks at Ohio State University. 72 jihad terrorists have come to the U.S. from the countries listed in Trump’s immigration ban.

What’s more, all of the jihadis who murdered 130 people in Paris in November 2015 had just entered Europe as refugees. In February 2015, the Islamic State boasted it would soon flood Europe with as many as 500,000 refugees. The Lebanese Education Minister said in September 2015 that there were 20,000 jihadis among the refugees in camps in his country. On May 10, 2016, Patrick Calvar, the head of France’s DGSI internal intelligence agency, said that the Islamic State was using migrant routes through the Balkans to get jihadis into Europe.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a monetary interest here behind all its hypocritical talk about welcoming the newcomer. This corrupt and authoritarian fraternity, which moves ruthlessly to stamp out any dissent from its new dogma that Islam is a religion of peace, received $79,590,512 in 2014 alone — that’s right, nearly 80 million dollars — from the federal government for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration Fund.

“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

“US Bishops welcome Appeal Courts decision on Muslim travel ban,” Independent Catholic News, February 12, 2017:

US bishops have welcomed an appeal court’s decision to overturn President Trump’s Muslim travel ban. On February 9, 2017, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a unanimous decision upholding a lower court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking the implementation of several key provisions of Executive Order 13769. The TRO was put in place by the US District Court for the Western District of Washington on February 3, 2017.

The provisions that that have temporarily been blocked by the TRO include: a 120 day halt of the US refugee resettlement program; an indefinite prohibition of resettling and admitting Syrian refugees; a preference for resettling Christian minorities; a case by case evaluation of refugee admission during the 120 day pause on resettlement; and a 90 day prohibition on entry, travel, and visas for individuals from the seven identified predominantly-Muslim countries of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In response to the Appeals Court ruling, Most Reverend Joe Vasquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, and Chair of the Committee on Migration stated: “We welcome the decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We respect the rule of law and the American judicial process. We remain steadfast in our commitment to resettling refugees and all those fleeing persecution. At this time, we remain particularly dedicated to ensuring that affected refugee and immigrant families are not separated and that they continue to be welcomed to our country. We will continue to welcome the newcomer as it is a vital part of our Catholic faith and an enduring element of our American values and tradition.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Robert Spencer: Parents of People Killed by Muslim Hit Trump for Calling Murders Terrorism

Istanbul nightclub jihad attacker: “My aim was to kill Christians”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on Jihad Watch.

Muslim screaming ‘Allahu akbar’ slits Christian shopkeeper’s throat

When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks…” (Qur’an 47:4)

“Egyptian Christian Shopkeeper Murdered In Suspected Sectarian Attack,” by Mark Woods, Christian Today, January 5, 2017:

A Christian shopkeeper has been murdered in the Egyptian city of Alexandria in a suspected sectarian killing.

According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Youssef Lamei was smoking a pipe outside his shop in the popular Montazah district when the man accused of the murder, reportedly a 48-year-old hard-line Salafist, yelled “Allah Akbar” and cut Lamei’s throat. Police arrested the suspect early on Wednesday morning.

Lamei’s brother Nasef told ICC: “The killing of my brother was planned and carried out accurately as the killer visited the shop many times before committing the crime and knew that my brother used to sit in this place.”

He said Lamei was known as a peaceful man who agreed to close his shop for the whole month of Ramadan so as not to offend his neighbours. He was even known to close his shop during the five daily Muslim prayers.

“He would obey them to prevent any trouble from occurring,” Nasef told ICC.

Lamei’s son was inside the shop when his father was killed.

“I’m grieving for the loss of my father; he was slain in front of my sight,” Tony Youssef told ICC. “I’m sad that we live in a country that doesn’t have the security and safety… He was my father, friend, everything sweet in my life.”…

RELATED ARTICLES:

Fort Lauderdale Airport shooter had told FBI he was forced to fight for the Islamic State

France: Peugeot car plant closed as Muslim workers took “too many prayer breaks”

Islamic State: If Muslims ran America, black slave trade would have continued

“In a bizarre digression from their latest anti-Christian tirade, the Islamic State addressed the question of black slavery, claiming that if Muslims had been in charge of Western states, the slave trade would have continued.”

The Islamic State message should be no surprise, given how blacks are treated throughout the Islamic world, despite the IS explaining that it’s more about slavery of the infidel than about race. One need only look at the racist genocide of blacks in Darfur and the slavery of blacks still going on in Islamic states, as well as the deep involvement of Arabs in the American black slave trade.

Jihad Watch reported about an Islamic State message to Ferguson protesters last year: “Hey blacks ISIS will save you”; and has also reported about instances that reveal the black-jihadi alliance in America. For example, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan accused whites of persecuting blacks, pointing out ominously that the Qur’an teaches that persecution is worse than slaughter (cf. Qur’an 2:191 and 2:217) , thereby justifying the slaughter of the alleged persecutors. Farrakhan then called for a bloody race war when he stated that he was looking for “10,000 fearless men” to “rise up and kill those who kill us; stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling!”

He was referencing police shootings of blacks, although whites get shot by police far more frequently than blacks do; more violent crimes are being committed by blacks; and blacks kill blacks in staggering numbers. But Farrakhan does not care about those inconvenient truths. Why? Because he is racist himself, and acquires money and fame from sensationalizing historic black victimization.

The Washington Post has also reported that the Islamic State, along with other jihadist movements, was taking advantage of the Ferguson crisis to recruit blacks for jihad.

The article stated: “All of the jihadists interviewed said Brown’s death confirms their beliefs that blacks are seen as second-class citizens by whites and especially by the police. ‘I think that blacks in the U.S. will look more towards Islam,’ said Anjem Choudary from Great Britain, co-founder of the banned ‘al-­Muhajiroun’ group.”

The fact that Muslims enslave blacks in Islamic states is nothing new, and now that the Islamic State has come out and stated that if Muslims ran America, “Lucrative African Slave Trade Would Have Continued”, where is Farrakhan in his condemnation of black slavery?

The Islamic State supported its position about slavery on Islamic theological grounds, and went on to blame the “emancipation and the end to black slavery on a corrupt Christianity that has gone soft and no longer lives according to the most brutal dictates of the Old Testament”. It goes on to state that “the clear difference between Muslims and the corrupt and deviant Jews and Christians is that Muslims are not ashamed of abiding by the rules sent down from their Lord regarding war and enforcement of divine law”.

To be noted in the very telling article below: the Islamic State directs its most vitriolic rancor against Jews, but also states what it would have done to Native Americans and the Japanese.

Stacks of evidence reveal clearly that the West is at war with jihadists who base their atrocities on a literal reading of Islamic texts; yet the Pope and leftist leaders continue to deny the religious nature of this war, even as the Islamic religion inspires the very zeal that drives it on.

slave-trade-

“Islamic State: If Muslims Ran America, ‘Lucrative African Slave Trade Would Have Continued’”, by Thomas D. Williams, Breitbart, August 2, 2016:

In a bizarre digression from their latest anti-Christian tirade, the Islamic State addressed the question of black slavery, claiming that if Muslims had been in charge of Western states, the slave trade would have continued.

If Muslims rather than Christians had been running things in countries like the U.S., the Islamic State argues in the most recent issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq, “the lucrative African slave trade would have continued, supporting a strong economy.”

As usual, the Islamic State supports its position with theological arguments, suggesting that Allah is pleased with slavery, as long as the slaves are infidels.

“The Islamic leadership would not have bypassed Allah’s permission to sell captured pagan humans, to teach them, and to convert them, as they worked hard for their masters in building a beautiful country,” the article reads.

Trading in black African slaves, the magazine notes, would not be done for racial reasons but religious ones.

“All of this would be done, not for racism, nationalism, or political lies, but to make the word of Allah supreme. Jihad is the ultimate show of one’s love for his Creator, facing the clashing of swords and buzzing of bullets on the battlefield, seeking to slaughter His enemies – whom he hates for Allah’s hatred of them.”….

….The Islamists blame emancipation and the end to black slavery on a corrupt Christianity that has gone soft and no longer lives according to the most brutal dictates of the Old Testament.

“The clear difference between Muslims and the corrupt and deviant Jews and Christians is that Muslims are not ashamed of abiding by the rules sent down from their Lord regarding war and enforcement of divine law,” the authors claim.

“And since those mujahidin would have done so bound by the Law, they would have been thorough and without some ‘politically correct’ need to apologize years later.”

Along with African slavery, the Islamic State authors also state that “if it were the Muslims,” instead of Christians, who had “fought the Japanese and Vietnamese or invaded the lands of the Native Americans, there would have been no regrets in killing and enslaving those therein.”

“The Japanese, for example, would have been forcefully converted to Islam from their pagan ways – and if they stubbornly declined, perhaps another nuke would change their mind. The Vietnamese would likewise be offered Islam or beds of napalm.”

As for the Native Americans, the article continues, after the slaughter of their men, “then the Muslims would have taken their surviving women and children as slaves, raising the children as model Muslims and impregnating their women to produce a new generation of mujahidin.”

Finally, the Islamic State authors turn to the Jews, saving some of their most bitter vitriol for their sworn enemies..

“As for the treacherous Jews of Europe and elsewhere – those who would betray their covenant – then their post-pubescent males would face a slaughter that would make the Holocaust sound like a bedtime story, as their women would be made to serve their husbands’ and fathers’ killers.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Panic mode: Khizr Khan deletes Muslim immigration law firm website

CFR “terrorism theorist” Max Abrahms hits Trump for not distinguishing “law-abiding” Muslims from terrorists

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of captured Yazidi girls being led by Muslim women to be married to Islamists.

Christian Forces in Iraq: Help Us Save Christianity

A spokesman and soldier with an Assyrian Christian defense force in Iraq has a message for the people and church of America in an interview with the Clarion Project: We need your help if Christianity is to be saved in the Middle East.

Clarion Project spoke with Athra Kado, a media spokesman and soldier for the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) in Iraq, who described the group’s efforts to save Assyrian Christians, Yazidis and others from genocide.

Earlier this month, the NPU battled the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Telskuf alongside Kurdish forces backed by U.S. airpower. One U.S. Navy Seal was killed, who the NPU mourned and thanked as a “martyr.” The NPU posted pictures and videos from the fighting on its Facebook page, including footage of three of its wounded soldiers.

Below is the interview between the Clarion Project’s National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro and the NPU’s Ahtra Kado:

Ryan Mauro: Can you tell us when the Nineveh Plain Protection Units started, how strong the group is and what its current activity is?

Athra Kado: Recruits began being registered in August 2014 but we didn’t receive the official permission of the Iraqi government. Then in November, the official announcement of the NPU’s establishment was released and more than 2,000 Assyrian Christians from the Nineveh Plain registered.

The first basic military training course happened in February 2015 for more than 500 men. All of the funding came from donations from our people in the diaspora and some great individual foreigners.

After that, the NPU commanders asked for support from the Iraqi government for the trained 500 men and permission for a military camp for us. It took over eight months for us to get permission for it. The camp has been built by volunteers and with donations.

The NPU is an official force, registered with the central Iraqi government. We are not a militia. We want to work with all official forces, but we are not getting the same treatment from them in return.

We now get salaries, and our activity is focused on guarding Alqosh and Telskuf. Our forces in Telskuf recently defended it against an attack  by ISIS.

Mauro: What is the relationship between the NPU and the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi government in Baghdad like?

Kado: We are officially registered with the Iraqi government and we cooperate with the Kurdish Peshmerga and other forces in the Nineveh Plain.

Mauro: Do you have any relationship with the U.S. government?

Kado: We don’t have any official relationship with the U.S. government yet, but we have had American individuals help us with training before.

Mauro: What is your message to the people of America and the West as a whole?

Kado: If the people of America want to help humanity, they have to us Assyrian Christians, especially if they want to help the people of the Nineveh Plain. We and the Yazidis are the only ancestral people of the area and we have our own humanitarian and military organizations.

What we need is military support, just like the U.S. is giving to the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga. We need a part of the U.S. aid reaching the two governments—the Baghdad government and the Kurdish Regional Government. And we need the U.S. to help make the two governments help us, just like they do with all other official forces in the area.

If the church of America wants to save Christianity in the Middle East, they have to help us, because Assyrians were the first nation to become Christians. The early origins of Christianity are here. We can save our people and help the people who are on the right side in the area, but we need your help.

Get a preview of Clarion Project’s upcoming film, Faithkeepers, about the violent persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The film features exclusive footage and testimonials of Christians, Baha’i, Yazidis, Jews, and other minority refugees, and a historical context of the persecution in the region.

ABOUT RYAN MAURO

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Pakistan’s Minorities: Fleeing a Fire for a Snake Pit

Islamic State Executes its Own Commanders With Attack Dogs

Gigs of Band in Paris Attack Cancelled After Leader Speaks Out

Soft Targets and the Politics of Fear

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of wounded soldiers from a Nineveh Plain Protection Unit who engaged in battle with Islamic State. Photo: Facebook.

Al Azhar University distributing free book dedicated to discrediting Christianity, the “failed religion”

Al Azhar—arguably the Islamic world’s most prestigious Islamic university—continues to incite Egypt’s Muslims against Christians.  Most recently the university was exposed distributing a free booklet dedicated to discrediting Christianity, chock full of direct attacks on Christianity in general and the nation’s Coptic Christians in particular.

Christianity is referred to as a “failed religion,” while Islam  is hailed as the true and superior religion.

Because the “seeds of weakness” are inherent in Christianity and the Bible, says the booklet, Islam was easily able to supplant it in the Middle East.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Egypt summons U.S. ambassador over D.C. Muslim Brotherhood meetings

Turkey: Christian schools shut down for distributing Bibles to Muslim refugees from Syria