Chaldean community in Detroit rallies, calls for more protection of Christians in Iraq

DETROIT (AP) — Hundreds of black-clad protesters gathered Monday to demand peace and security for Christians in Iraq following a recent bloody siege on a Baghdad church.

Chanting “Wake up America,” ”Stop the genocide” and “We demand peace,” the protesters gathered in front of a federal office building in downtown Detroit. The rally was organized by members of Michigan’s Chaldean community.

“The message is this: This massacre is not a one-time event — it’s part of a systematic effort to bring about a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Iraq’s indigenous Christians,” said Wisam Naoum, a rally organizer.

Chaldeans are Iraqi Catholics. Since 2007, thousands of Iraqi Christians have come to the Detroit area, which has one of the largest communities of people in the United States with roots in the Middle East.

Demonstrators filled the plaza in front of the building and at one point spilled out onto the street. They held signs including “66 Churches Bombed in Iraq Since ’03” and “US Gov’t You Have Made the World Miss Saddam Shame on You.”

Others held photos of the two priests who were killed in the Oct. 31 attack on Our Lady of Salvation church.

U.S. Iraqi Christians have sought international help for Iraq’s Christian community since the attack that left 58 people dead. It was the worst attack against the country’s Christian minority since the 2003-U.S. led invasion.

The rally coincides with others in Chicago, London and Paris, organizers said.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-bc-mi–iraqattack-michiganrally,0,1368587.story