Christians in Iraq Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syrians, Armenians still use an ancient liturgy. Although they are a small minority 3 Omega Seamaster 200m Pre Bond For Sale percent many are doctors and engineers, the priest said.
Although they were Christians in a conservative Muslim neighborhood, they enjoyed mutual respect.
Late in the morning on a weekday, the sisters poured Turkish coffee into espresso cups donated by a friend of Shamil's and served visitors helva candy.
When these refugees look back home now, they see a beloved country torn by harsh ethnic and religious rifts.
Christian family abandons homeland amid strife
In 2005, when American fliers dropped leaflets on their neighborhood warning of a coming air attack, the family threw together some pillows and blankets, documents and a laptop. They rented a car and drove to Diyarbakir, 60 miles inside Turkey. From there, they took a bus to Istanbul, and to a Catholic church. high commissioner accepted them as refugees. The women were given passage to the Bay Area, where they joined a brother in Dublin. Another brother, Raed Toma, still waits in Turkey.
Now, they sit at a bare table in a room with few other accommodations sorting through the photographs showing a comfortable living room then the same room with a hole punched in one wall. Other photos show scorched walls of rooms that looters emptied.
Wafa Toma, 45, a primary school teacher, and Sena Toma, 37, a teacher at a technical institute, enjoyed Omega Seamaster With Date
Her son, Shamil Toma, a testing engineer, has been in the West for 15 years and is helping them learn to make their way in the United States.
California. He asked not to be named for fear of retaliation when he returns home. "We suffer maybe more than other minorities. Why? Insurgents say America is majority Christian. This is the logic."
Life in Fallujah was already dangerous before Samiya Bashir, her three daughters and son learned American and Iraqi forces were coming to "clean" their neighborhood.
"Christmas, we set up our Christmas tree," Hana Toma said. "At Easter, Mother would color eggs. "Until 2003, nobody knew who was living next to you religionwise. After 2003, everything just fell apart."
Toma said. "People thought there would be democracy and freedom. Those terms are comparative. State Department report. The 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom blames the ongoing insurgency and "conservative and extremist Islamic elements" for the sharp decline in religious tolerance.
friendships with people of different faiths in Fallujah. In fact, faith was seldom discussed, they said.
Twenty years ago, Hana Toma, 50 the eldest of Bashir's daughters and a former translator for the Ministry of Culture worked happily with a crew that included a liberal Shiite, a Turkman, a Christian and a Muslim, and she knew of many mixed marriages.
"It was a catastrophe," Hana Omega Speedmaster 57 Broad Arrow
Men with unfamiliar accents would stop them in their car and demand to know why the women didn't cover their heads. One day, two men sideswiped them, forced them to stop and tried to pull one of the women from the car.
"In Iraq, we have the same problem as here the silent majority: Muslim clergy don't speak out because they are afraid," the priest said.
"We are a minority," said an Iraqi priest on an interfaith tour of Omega Seamaster 300 Co Axial
Three months after the attack on their neighborhood, Raed Toma returned to Fallujah and photographed the ransacked ruins of their home.
The first of several Iraqi families to be resettled by Catholic Charities of the East Bay, Bashir and her daughters have moved into a sparsely furnished apartment in Fremont and now spend their daysrunning to Social Security, the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies to accomplish the tasks it takes to establish a working life.
Despite chaos, displacement and destruction, they laugh a lot. They have always been a close family, pouring their salaries into a single pot. They built their family home together "brick by brick," Hana Toma said.
Chaldean priests have been threatened, kidnapped, tortured and killed. More than 500,000 Christians have fled the country since 2003, according to the State Department report.
"It's ironic because there have been Christians in Iraq since year zero, but Christians are associated in many people's minds with the West," said Kathleen Newland, director at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization. "Their asylum claims are less likely to be challenged and there is advocacy on their behalf."
As the bombs began falling, the minority Wahhabis a Sunni revivalist sect that advocates separation of the sexes and other fundamentalist mores, enforced by a cultural police began asserting themselves. Other Wahhabis began pouring into the city.
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