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Attack on Catholic Church in Iraq left 58 dead
Members of Detroit, Michigan's Chaldean community, Iraqi Catholics, rallied in support of members who face persecution in their native land. Demonstrators say there is a lack of protection for Christians in Iraq. Rallies to be observed around the world will call attention to the Chaldeans' ongoing plight.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Members of Michigan's Iraqi Christian community expressed sorrow and anger over the attack on October 31 on a Baghdad church that left that left 58 people dead.
Since 2007, thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees or immigrants 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.
More than a thousand demonstrators sang, prayed and waved signs and American flags at a rally outside the McNamara Federal Building in downtown Detroit. Demonstrators say the U.S. and Iraqi governments have not done enough to keep Iraq's Christians safe from Muslim extremists.
Last month's massacre at the Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, left Detroit Chaldeans stunned. Metro Detroit Chaldeans, along with Assyrians say they have appealed to the U.S. State Department over the past few years to do more to protect religious minorities in Iraq.
"We hear a lot of people talking, but nothing ever gets done," Andre Anton of Farmington Hills, one of the rally organizers says. "Religious and ethnic minorities are not a priority."
Anton said that in three weeks, a similar rally will be held in Washington, D.C., to get the attention of the nation's lawmakers.
At a news conference at the St. Toma Syriac Catholic Church in Farmington Hills before the rally, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters called the church killings "despicable" actions.
"We have to step up and step up and be firm," he said.
Peters said it's especially important to do something now that U.S. forces in Iraq are being drawn down.
"We have to be sure those religious minorities that live in Iraq have the protection they need," he said.