Chicago’s Iraqi Christians rally against genocide

The largest group of Iraqi Christians outside of Iraq lives in Chicago. Friday, hundreds of Assyrians asked the world to stop the genocide in northern Iraq, demanding a safe haven for rebel-targeted Christians.

Nadia Davood’s uncle and his six children are now religious refugees.

“They all escaped from their families, from their houses. They left everything, and they are really, really in a bad situation,” Davood said. “And we cannot do anything from there. That’s why we are here today.”

The stories coming out of northern Iraq are horrifying. The rebels are marking every Christian home with a sign and forcing families to either convert to Islam, pay a huge fine or be killed.

“Even if they pay or convert, they’re still slaughtering their heads or torturing them,” Gathoon Garmoos, an Assyrian American, said. “They’re taking the wives and the little daughters and selling them as sex slaves.”

The group of Assyrian Americans wore the sign proudly Friday.

Earlier, President Barack Obama carried out air strikes. The bombs are targeting Islamic militants who have the country’s religious minorities surrounded on a mountain. They have no shelter, food or water.

“It’s bad news. There’s suffering, there’s hunger, there’s thirst, there’s no work, there’s nothing,” Joe Rasho of the Assyrian Media Center said. “The massacre’s happening, the killing is happening.”

Those at the rally say the U.S. airstrikes are a good start, but more needs to be done to protect Iraq’s Christians. They want protection from the U.S. and the UN.

Theo Bethshlimon, another Assyrian American has been back and forth from Iraq since 1973. Four years ago, he lost six family members in a bombing.

“Please, please wake up!”

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