Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus. (Reuters Life!) -
The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old. The manuscript carries excerpts of the Bible written in gold lettering on vellum and loosely strung together, photos provided to Reuters showed. One page carries a drawing of a tree, and another eight lines of Syriac script. Experts were however divided over the provenance of the manuscript, and whether it was an original, which would render it priceless, or a fake. Experts said the use of gold lettering on the manuscript was likely to date it later than 2,000 years. "I'd suspect that it is most likely to be less than 1,000 years old," leading expert Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House, University of Cambridge told Reuters. Turkish Cypriot authorities seized the relic last week and nine individuals are in custody pending further investigations. More individuals are being sought in connection with the find, they said. Further investigations turned up a prayer statue and a stone carving of Jesus believed to be from a church in the Turkish held north, as well as dynamite. The police have charged the detainees with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations and the possession of explosives. Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic - the native language of Jesus - once spoken across much of the Middle East and Central Asia. It is used wherever there are Syrian Christians and still survives in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. Aramaic is still used in religious rituals of Maronite Christians in Cyprus. "One very likely source (of the manuscript) could be the Tur-Abdin area of Turkey, where there is still a Syriac speaking community," Charlotte Roueche, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College London told Reuters. Stories regarding the antiquity of manuscripts is commonplace. One case would be the Yonan Codex, carbon dated to the 12th century which people tried to pass off as earlier. After further scrutiny of photographs of the book, manuscripts specialist at the University of Cambridge library and Fellow of Wolfson College JF Coakley suggested that the book could have been written a good deal later. "The Syriac writing seems to be in the East Syriac script with vowel points, and you do not find such manuscripts before about the 15th century. "On the basis of the one photo...if I'm not mistaken some words at least seem to be in modern Syriac, a language that was not written down until the mid-19th century," he told Reuters.
Aramaic Voice of Jesus/Assyrian News
In response to the renewed violence against Assyrian Christians in Iraq, I have decided to do a weekly "podcast" on my "you tube" channel and I have also decided to start uploading videos onto God Tube. The new program will be entitled "Aramaic Voice of Jesus/Assyrian News." Please check it out at www.youtube.com/aramaic12 and www.godtube.com/aramaic7.
Obama ignores persecution of Iraqi Christians by Edwin Mora
(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki standing at his side, hailed a "new Iraq" on Monday, but he failed to acknowledge persecution of religious minorities in the country that the United States helped to liberate. "People throughout the region will see a new Iraq that's determining its own destiny -- a country in which people from different religious sects and ethnicities can resolve their differences peacefully through the democratic process," Obama told reporters after his closed-door meeting with al-Maliki. But Obama's own State Department and a federal religious-freedom watchdog say that violence and threats against Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities is a continuing problem.
In a Dec. 7 letter to Obama, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal body appointed by the president and congressional leaders, urged the president to take up the issue of religious freedom with the Iraqi prime minister. "Since 2008, and most recently in May 2011, USCIRF has recommended that Iraq should be designated as a 'country of particular concern' under the International Religious Freedom Act for systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom," the letter said. "Despite an overall decrease in violence in the country, members of Iraq's smallest religious minorities, including Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis continue to suffer from targeted violence, threats, and intimidation, against which the government does not provide effective protection."
The letter noted that sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'a Iraqis continues, yet the perpetrators of sectarian and religiously motivated attacks are "rarely identified, investigated, or punished, creating a climate of impunity. In addition, the smallest minorities experience a pattern of official discrimination, marginalization, and neglect," particularly in disputed areas of northern Iraq. "For Iraq to become a secure and stable democracy, it must guarantee and enforce the human rights of all Iraqis, both in law and in practice," USCIRF wrote to the president, urging Obama to discuss with al-Maliki "the need for his government to protect Iraq's most vulnerable religious minority communities, who face the threat of religious cleansing, and ensure them justice." In its latest International Religious Freedom report on Iraq, which covers the six-month period July 1- December 31, 2010, the State Department said Muslim Iraqis who convert to another religion face death: "In practice, government institutions do not acknowledge conversion from Islam for official purposes, and persons who leave Islam often face severe social persecution, including death, often by assailants known to the victims." The State Department also noted that it is a crime in Iraq for any person to promote "Zionist principles" or to associate with Zionist organizations. People who do so are subject to punishment by death, the report said.During the six-month reporting period ending Dec. 31, 2010, at least 12 Christians were killed and an unknown number were injured in ten separate incidents in Baghdad and other population centers, according to the State Department. The State Department says Iraq has a population of 28.9 million people, 97 percent of whom are Muslim. The remaining three percent is composed of Christians, Yezidis, Sabean-Mandaeans, Bahais, Shabaks, Kaka'is (sometimes referred to as Ahl-e Haqq), and a very small number of Jews. The report noted that Iraq's Christian population has decreased by almost half since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. In that year, Iraq's Christian population was estimated at 800,000-1.4 million, but now it's estimated by Christian leaders to be in the 400,000-600,000 range. The report stated that there are only 14 officially recognized Christian churches in the country. The 2010 report put the number of Jews in Iraq at eight – down from 150,000 in 1948, around 35 in 2004, and fewer than 10 by 2008. U.S. ground forces are expected to leave Iraq by December 31 in accordance with an agreement signed by then-President George W. Bush, bringing an end to a war that began in 2003. President Obama officially announced the troop withdrawal and the war's end in October. Negotiations to extend the U.S. troop withdrawal deadline fell through after the Iraqi government refused to grant U.S. forces legal immunity, which would have prevented them from being tried in Iraqi courts and being subjected to Iraqi repercussions. "In the coming days, the last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq, with honor and with their heads held high," Obama said on Monday.
Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Laws are Choking Freedom Worldwide by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea.
The fatwa against Salman Rushdie awakened many westerners to the danger of being accused of blasphemy in the Muslim world. As this eye-opening volume reveals, accusations of "blasphemy," "apostasy," or "insulting Islam" are increasingly used by authoritarian governments and extremist forces in the Muslim world to acquire and consolidate power. These charges, which traditionally carry a punishment of death, have proved effective in intimidating not only converts and heterodox groups, but also political and religious reformers. In his foreword, the late Indonesian President Wahid observes that coercively applied blasphemy laws "narrow the bounds of acceptable discourse...not only about religion, but about vast spheres of life, literature, science and culture in general."
Silenced provides the first survey of such accusations in the contemporary Muslim world, in international organizations, and in the West. The authors describe hundreds of victims, including political dissidents, religious reformers, journalists, writers, artists, movie makers, and religious minorities throughout the Muslim world. They also document the political effects in Muslim societies of blasphemy and apostasy laws, as well as non-governmental fatwas and vigilante violence. Finally, they address the move toward new blasphemy laws in the West and the increasing threat of violence to stifle commentary on Islam in the West even in the absence of law.
Assyrian United Organizations of Illinois
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
As the United States prepares to withdraw its troops from Iraq, a horrible wave of terrorism has swept several towns in the Kurdistan Region. On Friday, December 2, 2011, starting in Zakho, thousands of young men paraded through several areas, destroying, pillaging and burning shops, hotels, and other properties. The attacks spread to 5 other towns and carry the hallmarks of an organized campaign. Their targets were the properties of the indigenous inhabitants of the area; the Chaldean Syriac Assyrians and the Yezidis, who have been the subjects of severe persecution. Shockingly, security forces in the region seemed to be non-existent during critical hours.
The Chaldean Syriac Assyrian community of the United States condemns these acts of terrorism as a tactic to intimidate and drive our people out of Iraq, and calls upon the Kurdistan Regional Government to act swiftly and justly to investigate this crime and to punish the instigators and participants.
We further call upon the United States government to reevaluate its departure from Iraq, and work with the Iraqi authorities and the United Nations to move toward a viable and lasting solution in the form of the recognition, under the constitution of Iraq, the Province in the Nineveh Plain as a mechanism to protect the safety, property, culture, and identity of our peopleand that of other vulnerable minorities who coexist in the area. For over 8 years, the continued targeting of these minorities in Iraq has resulted in an exodus that has threatened their very existence. The world today cannot and should not allow the destruction of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian community and other minorities in Iraq.
The Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government's lack of sufficient response and meaningful concrete movement toward a solution, along with the insufficient response of the security forces of the KRG to the latest attack, have formed a resolve in our community. A viable and permanent solution - in the form of the Nineveh Plain province must move forward immediately.
History must not repeat itself. The Semele massacre of innocent Assyrian women, children, unarmed men, and priests in 1933 lingers in our memories, as does the crime committed against our people at the Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad last year. Those who attacked Semele again, where the bones of our ancestors cry out for justice, must know of our resolve. We stand united in seeking a dignified solution to the plight of minorities in Iraq.
We call upon the Iraqi Government and all of its branches to move swiftly and immediately toward the establishment and recognition of the Nineveh Plains Province, to allow the minorities the security and protection under law. We call upon the government of the United States to consider the importance of its role and responsibility, under international law and obligations, in considering its next steps in Iraq. In the very immediate future, the United States has the chance to pass policy language currently adopted by the United State Senate for the 2012 appropriation that will support progress towards the formation of the Nineveh Plain Province. We finally call upon the United Nations, pursuant to the various treaties and charters, to consider the current plight of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrians and the Yezidis, Shabek and Turkmen with utmost concern.
Assyrian United Organizations of Illinois:
Assyrian Aid Society of America - Chicago
Assyrian American Association of Chicago
Assyrian American Civic Club of Chicago
Assyrian American National Federation - Midwest Region
Assyrian American Police Association
Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Movement
Assyrian Democratic Movement - Chicago
Assyrian Democratic Organization - Chicago
Assyrian Democratic Party - Chicago
Assyrian Liberation Movement - Chicago
Assyrian National Council of Illinois
Assyrian Patriotic Party - Chicago
Assyrian Teachers Association of America
Assyrian Universal Alliance - Chicago
Bet Nahrain Democratic Party - Chicago
Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council of America - Chicago
Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council - Chicago
MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT-WE ARE AT WAR!
You might not know it from TV or your newspaper.
But make no mistake about it. We're at war.
On one side are Marxist leaders as well as Muslim and Hindu fanatics who play upon ignorance and prejudice to turn ordinary people into violent mobs bent on murder and destruction.
The other side? That would be those who choose to follow Christ in persecuted areas.
And while radical Hindus pose life and death problems for Christians in India, the greater threat comes from Islamist militants financed by the oil wealth of the Middle East.
These fanatics are intent on wiping out Christianity in their homelands - where it has existed for two thousand years. But they don't plan to stop there.
They seek not only to end Christianity in their own countries, but to destroy the whole of Western Civilization. They believe that they must do so to "cut off the head of Christianity."
Why do these militants hate Christianity so much? Because they fear it
They see Christ's message of love, peace and social justice spreading throughout the world and into "their" territory. They see people transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and they absolutely hate it. It is the polar opposite of everything they preach and it drives them mad with hate.
You see, if people turn to Jesus, the militants' message of hate goes unheeded and they lose their power over the masses. It is this fear that drives much of what they do.
Reading the headlines, you might think the Islamists are winning this war.
After all, Islamists assassinated the two leading politicians in Pakistan that stood up for Christians, and they have vowed to decapitate Christianity by killing any Christian leaders that rise up.
Fundamentalist Muslim groups seem poised to seize the leadership of Egypt and Libya ... Christians are massacred in Nigeria ... and everywhere in the Middle East, Islamic militants seem ascendant.
What can we do to turn the tide?
We can send Bibles in Arabic to believers ... we can set up printing presses for Bibles in the most dangerous countries in the world and fund pastors to build the Church in these same Muslim areas. We can support and teach Church leaders how to build the Church in these incredibly dangerous environments. We can also take care of the widows and children of imprisoned and murdered pastors.
ICC is doing all this. . .and a lot more!!
The truth is that all of the work we do is because people like you have decided it's vital to support our persecuted brothers and sisters as the Lord calls us.
You see we can't really do anything unless you "tell us to do it" by directing your giving to the persecuted Church via International Christian Concern.
We are nothing but a pipeline, a conduit of your care.
We are your hands and feet to bring your financial support to the widow of the pastor that was murdered for preaching Christ to Muslims. We are your hands and feet to bring the gospel or a Bible to a Muslim that desperately wants to find God.
International Christian Concern
Obama Administration works to make criticism of Islam an international crime:Religious Tolerance Resolution Backed by Obama Administration Aligns With Islamic Bloc's Interests
By "Patrick Goodenough" CNS News 16 December 2011
(CNSNews.com) – The head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has acknowledged that a U.N. religious tolerance resolution heavily promoted by the Obama administration has the same aims as the Islamic bloc's annual "religious defamation" resolutions, which Western democracies have consistently opposed for more than a decade. The State Department this week hosted three days of talks with foreign governments and international organizations, including the OIC, on implementing "resolution 16/18," a measure adopted "by consensus" – without a vote – at the U.N. Human Rights Council last March and set to be endorsed by the full U.N. General Assembly within days. The resolution, formally entitled "combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief," has been championed by the administration – and some human rights advocacy groups – as a historic achievement, in that it supposedly seeks a balance between freedom of religion and freedom of expression.It was hailed as a shift away from earlier "defamation of Islam" (later changed to "defamation of religion") resolutions introduced by the OIC, and duly voted through each year at both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly – in recent years, by steadily smaller margins. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday told the closing session of the meeting at the State Department that the adoption of resolution 16/18 had "ended 10 years of divisive debate where people were not listening to each other anymore." Critics have been doubtful about the OIC's sincerity, however, noting the top priority it has given to the drive to curb speech and actions which it views as insulting to Islam – ranging from the Mohammed cartoons and threats to burn the Qur'an to anti-shari'a campaigns and post-9/11 security profiling. In remarks delivered on his behalf to the State Department meeting – released by the OIC after the closed-door talks ended – OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu made it clear that, for the bloc of 57 Islamic states, the goal remains the same. Passage of resolution 16/18, he said, "clearly demonstrated that, as a mature international organization, OIC was not wedded to either a particular title or the content of a resolution," Ihsanoglu continued. "We just wanted to ensure that the actual matter of vital concern and interest to OIC member states was addressed. He went on to commend the role played by the Obama administration: "I particularly appreciate the kind personal interest of Secretary Clinton and the role played by the U.S. towards the consensual adoption of the resolution." Ihsanoglu said it was now vital to ensure the resolution was implemented. "The adoption of the resolution does not mark the end of the road. It rather signifies a beginning based on a new approach to deal with the whole set of interrelated issues. The success of the alternative approach contained in the resolution 16/18 will be judged by addressing vital concerns of all parties in a time-bound framework," he said. "As mentioned in the resolution, steps to end double standards and racial or religious profiling need to be taken. Such acts must not be condoned by states but duly addressed through structured and sustained engagement." Ihsanoglu silent on freedom of expression Resolution 16/18 calls on states to make "a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures." Countries are expected "to take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries in the conduct of their public duties do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief." For the U.S. and other mostly Western democracies, a crucial aspect of the resolution is a clause "[r]affirming the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance." Despite the importance ascribed to that aspect of the resolution by the U.S. and other, Ihsanoglu in his brief comments to the Washington meeting made no reference to freedom of expression or freedom of speech. Instead, he obliquely warned that failure to act against religious "hate speech" would fuel Islamic terror. "Let me be clear. In a world faced with the menace of terrorism, the implications of not evolving a normative framework to respond to hate speech and other forms of incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence, cannot and must not be ignored," he said. "The resolution 16/18 provides with a good basis for concerted action by states, at both the national and the international levels. It must be utilized accordingly. We would, otherwise, be faced with the unaffordable risk of the agenda hijacked and set by radicals and non-state actors." 'More dangerous' One of the features of resolution 16/18 cited most often by its Western supporters is the fact that it calls for the criminalization only of religion-related "incitement to imminent violence" – not for instances of religious stereotyping or stigmatization that stop short of inciting violence, as was the case in the earlier religious defamation texts. Critics are concerned, however, about how this could be interpreted. Would the burning of a copy of the Qur'an be viewed as inciting "imminent violence," given the intensity of Muslim feeling about the sanctity of the book? In the view of veteran international religious liberty analyst and advocate Elizabeth Kendal resolution 16/18, "far from being a breakthrough for free speech … is actually more dangerous than" the religious defamation resolutions. "Indeed, the strategic shift from defamation to incitement actually advances the OIC's primary goal: the criminalization of criticism of Islam," she wrote. "For, in Resolution 16/18, the OIC has deliberately and strategically adopted the language of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 20.2, which mandates: any advocacy of hatred that 'constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.'" The ICCPR, which came into force in 1976, is legally binding on those countries that have ratified it. The United States ratified it in 1992, although with a declared reservation that "article 20 does not authorize or require legislation or other action by the United States that would restrict the right of free speech and association protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States."
Hope for the Future?
There has been a lot of bad news the past four years. The fact of the matter is that elections have consequences and now we are reaping the bitter harvest of the historic 2011 election. If this administration is re-elected-the American Republic is finished. America will become a Leftist totalitarian police-state like Venezuela. It seems to me that America's days are now numbered. It was once a great nation but the Liberals have destroyed it. America no longer deserves to be called the "leader of the free world." America is no longer truly a free country. You are free to engage in sexual perversion-but not free to think or speak outside of liberal orthodoxy. (See David Limbaugh's excellent article from December 5, 2011 entitled "the Orwellian American Left.") This nation is now a stench in the nostrils of God Almighty. Americans love abortion, sexual perversity and sodomy and hate God. So, don't look to the decadent declining US of A for guidance-look to Jesus Christ. There is Good News-the Gospel of Jesus Christ! God is in control. All these Islamist who slaughter Christians are going to face God in judgment and if they don't repent-justice will be done upon them. These Leftists who have unleashed social evils upon America and upon the world will also face God-and if they don't repent-they will experience his judgment as well. Jesus said that "Heaven and earth will pass away-but my word shall never pass away." Our hope should be built on Jesus-not on Washington, DC. Jesus-not the USA is the Rock of Ages.