U.S. Vice President discusses plight of Iraqi Christians with local Chaldeans

WEST BLOOMFIELD – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made a stop at the Shenandoah Country Club here Tuesday where he discussed the plight of Iraqi Christians with members of the Chaldean community.

Chaldeans are Iraqi Catholics, and the largest concentration in the United States resides in metro Detroit. More than half of Iraq’s Christians have faced exile from their homeland, in addition to persecution following the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq.

According to Derek Dickow, an activist in the Chaldean community, it was announced at the event that a few Chaldean Americans have been selected to serve as senior advisors to the Obama Administration to discuss the issues plaguing Iraqi Christians worldwide. Dickow says the names of the individuals have not been released.

The Shenandoah Country Club is the largest Chaldean center in Michigan. The event was a fundraiser, tickets cost as much as $500 to $2,000 and nearly 100 attended. It was organized by John Oram, another activist in the Chaldean community who had worked with President Barack Obama’s campaign previously.

Many Iraqi Christians believe the United States is obligated to provide safety measures to minorities in the country, since the invasion destabilized its security. More than 50 churches have been bombed since 2003, and the future of Iraq’s Christians still looks grim.

Dickow says Biden was well versed on foreign policy, and discussed on going issues occurring in other parts of the world including Pakistan.

Biden also noted that he has visited Iraq numerous times and met with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to discuss democracy in the region. Dickow says Biden met with a small group of community members in a separate room for a meeting that was not open to all attendees.

The Obama Administration has been condemned for not doing enough to protect Iraq’s minorities. For Dickow, and other Iraqi Christians the idea of visiting the country they trace their roots to isn’t possible because of the ongoing violence against them. “When will we be able visit our homeland?” he said.