Protesters rally at Hamilton City Hall in defence of humanity

Rachael Williams,Special to The Hamilton Spectator
Protestors gather at Hamilton City Hall to raise awareness for the “silent genocide” of Assyrian Christians by Islamic State militants.
By Rachael Williams

Roughly 400 people gathered at Hamilton City Hall on Saturday in support of a worldwide protest against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that is on a murderous march across much of Iraq and Syria to gain political control.

Local Assyrian-Canadians who want the international community to take action against ISIS organized the protest. They marched to Gore Park and back to City Hall on Saturday, receiving support via car horns and shouts from onlookers.

“It’s a silent genocide over there,” said Fadio Mamo, university student and head of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriak student union.

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is systematically expelling or killing several minorities, according to a United Nations report on civilian casualties in Iraq released in July. Members of the al-Qaeda splinter group have also burned historic Christian churches and desecrated sacred tombs all in the name of creating a self-governing Islamic state.

“It’s not about money, it’s about blood,” said Reemon Daniel, one of the protesters.

The crowd walked with Assyrian flags raised above their heads or worn around their shoulders. They wore white shirts decorated with a red Arabic letter, representing a pejorative Arabic word for Christians. Since taking over Mosul, Iraq, on June 10th, ISIS has used the symbol to mark Christian homes. Once marked, these people are given the option to flee, pay a tax or be killed. Assyrian-Christians and Muslims across the world are now using it as an international symbol of solidarity.

Priest Youkhnna kicked off the event with a prayer and offered blessings to those who came out.

“We are demanding a safe haven in Canada and the United States. We want the government to help protect our people because no one else is going to,” said Mike Khamis, event organizer.

Rena Chaio, who also helped organize the rally, hopes the worldwide protests convince the United Nations and Western leaders to join forces and combat what has become more than just a terrorist group, but a full-fledged militant army.

There were five police on scene escorting the protestors during their march through the core. Sergeant Harold Harris said it was a “good group…very peaceful.”