Mark Arabo

MINORITY HUMANITIES PRESIDENT AND CHALDEAN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY LEADER PRAISES RULING UPHOLDING SUSPENSION OF TRAVEL BAN

 

East County News Service

February 11, 2017 (San Diego) -- The news of President Trump’s wide reaching immigration ban has stunned the world as well as many Chaldean Christians in San Diego. The ban, which has put a halt to the travels of many Chaldean Christians in San Diego and abroad has been uniformly condemned by Chaldean residents in El Cajon. A ruling suspending the Trump ban has just been upheld by the Court of Appeals.

CHALDEAN CHRISTIAN REFUGEES COULD BENEFIT FROM TRUMP EXECUTIVE ORDER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

File photo:  Prayer vigil for Iraqi Christians in El Cajon

January 28, 2017 (El Cajon) – President Donald Trump’s sweeping order restricting refugees from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. has been greeted with optimism by some in San Diego’s Chaldean Christian community, since Trump has stated on a Christian broadcasting station that he would give priority to persecuted Christians, after a tougher vetting process is implemented.

Mark Arabo, president of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation in San Diego, voices hope that the order could help save lives of Christians facing death at the hands of ISIS in the Middle East.  An estimated 400,000 Iraqi Christians have fled Iraq and another 80,000 have been killed or tortured, some by crucifixion and beheadings 

Some have suggested Trump's order could be unconstitutioal for discriminating against Muslims.

Arabo, while hopeful to get help for persecuted Christians,  also expressed a wish for the order to be expanded to protect other people persecuted by ISIS, regardless of their faiths.

ARABO STANDS UP FOR FATHER NOEL, PLANS APPEAL TO POPE

 

"Father Noel is amazing in the halls of Congress. We were able to get 20,000 more visas for Chaldeans to come here. For his success, he is being punished.  The church is saying that no Iraqi Christians should leave Iraq..Wewlil not allow himto be sent like a cow to slaughter.--Mark Arabo

By Miriam Raftery

July 12, 2016 (El Cajon)-- Friday is the deadline for Father Noel Gorgis to leave the St. Peter Chaldean Catholic diocese, under an order signed by interim Bishop  ShlemunWarduni and Patriarch Mar Louis Sako. Pope Francis previously intervened to overturn an order for Father Noel to be transferred to Iraq, after local Chaldeans made clear he is needed here, and that his life would be in jeopardy in Iraq.  The new order seeks to punish Father Noel for disobeying the Patriarch despite the Pope's wishes that he remain serving his parish here.

Now Mark Arabo, founder of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation and a prominent spokesman for Chaldean-Americans, is joning with other parishioners here to defend Father Noel.

LOCAL CHALDEAN CHRISTIANS REACT WITH FEAR AS SUPREME COURT DEADLOCK THREATENS DEPORTATION BACK TO RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN IRAQ

 

East County News Service

Photo: Iraqi Chaldeans rallied in El Cajon in 2014 pleading for the U.S. to help to save Christians from ISIS.

 

June 23, 2016 (San Diego) — Fear rippled through the community here, as word of Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court vote reached San Diego, home to the nation’s largest concentration of Iraqi Christians.

“Today’s announcement is alarming for immigrant families everywhere, but it is particularly frightening for Chaldeans,” said Mark Arabo, spokesperson for the Western U.S. Chaldean Catholic Diocese and the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a San Diego organization that has rescued over 400 Iraqi Christians fleeing genocide in the Middle East and seeks to help another 700,000 victimized by religious persecution.

“People who came here to escape religious persecution and extermination at the hands of ISIS are now being told they have to go back. They’re terrified.” Arabo said.

CHRISTIANS EXECUTED BY ISIS; PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS URGED TO TAKE ACTION

October 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--Militants with ISIS, the Islamic State, have released a video that appears to show executions of three Assyrian Christian hostages captured  in Syria in February, the Guardian reports. The terrorists are threatening to kill 200 more hostages, including women and children, unless hefty ransoms are paid for each prisoner, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Assyrian and Chaldean Christians have faced genocide at the hands of ISIS for refusing to convert to Islam. International leaders are urging President Barack Obama and Congress to take action, but thus far those please seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Locally, Mark Arabo, a leader in the Chaldean community, issued this statement. “"It breaks my heart to see the continuous bloodshed, and the constant persecution of Christians by ISIS. Scholars, journalists, and the American public are in consensus that more must be done to end this genocide. Yet, our government continues to remain inactive. Every video is yet another reminder of the victims our government has left to rot in Iraq and Syria.”

HAGGEN TO CLOSE ALL 25 GROCERY STORES IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

October 2, 2015 (San Diego) – Just days after announcing plans to file for bankruptcy and reorganize around fewer but more profitable stores, Haggen Market has announced it will close all 25 San Diego County markets.

U.S. TO ADMIT MORE REFUGEES OVER NEXT TWO YEARS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 12, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Today, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the U.S. will raise its cap on refugees from the current level of 70,000 to accept 85,000 next year and 100,000 in 2017. The news comes in response to a growing refugee crisis of people fleeing ISIS in Syria and Iraq, including Christians and other minorities as well as Muslims.

That came as welcome news in El Cajon, where Iraqi-American Christians are celebrating at the Chaldean Festival.

EAST COUNTY CHALDEANS PLEA FOR RELEASE OF CHRISTIANS DETAINED BY HOMELAND SECURITY AT OTAY

 

Detentions shine spotlight on U.S. policies that critics say is harshest system in the world for asylum seekers

By Miriam Raftery

Hear our KNSJ radio coverage of the rally, aired on August 3, 2015:  /sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/2016/April/OtayIraqis-FinalShow.mp3?641

Hear our August 7, 2015 radio broadcast on KNSJ  with Mark Arabo, a national spokesman for Iraqi-American Chaldeans, and Amir Moshe, a former translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq who has two cousins detained inside the Otay facility.  Listen Now: /sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/2016/April/8-4-15%20MOSHE%20-%20MARK%20-%20CHALDEAN%20INTERVIEW.mp3?722

 

August 2, 2015 (El Cajon) – Over three dozen Iraqi Chaldean Christians from El Cajon held a prayer vigil and protest outside the prison walls at the Homeland Security detention facility at Otay Mesa on Thursday, calling for the release of their family members and friends who fled ISIS only to be imprisoned when they arrived in America seeking asylum.  Over two dozen have been held in indefinite detention for over four months, some up to seven months, with no hearing date set for release. 

The detainees include a woman who pleaded for release to see her mother, who died Thursday at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Father Noel from St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon told East County Magazine that all of the detained Christians have family in El Cajon who vouch for their identities and are willing to take them in. 

The situation is far different than for Iraqi Chaldeans who came here a decade ago seeking asylum.  “Ten years ago, they were held just a couple of days and they were not in a jail,” he told East County Magazine.  “Today, they are fleeing ISIS," escaping genocide in their homeland, only to arrive and be imprisoned in the U.S.

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS 3 AWARDS FROM SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS

 

 

East County News Service

July 31, 2015 (San Diego) – East County Magazine picked up three more awards from the Society for Professional Journalists San Diego pro chapter last night during the annual awards banquet at the Bali Hai restaurant.   Two of the awards honor coverage on our East County Magazine Show on KNSJ Radio while the third is for an investigative report at our online news site (www.EastCountyMagazine.org), bringing our total awards to 83 since our founding in 2008.

Last night’s honors, all second place awards presented to Miriam Raftery (photo, left), include our radio interview series with local Chaldeans’ efforts to halt genocide in Iraq, a radio interview with a Kurdish woman about her family’s ordeal fleeing ISIS, and an online investigative report on a San Diego company’s failure to disclose negative impacts of a proposed energy project.

You can read and hear our award-winning entries here:

CLERGY TO HOLD MASS JULY 30 OUTSIDE OTAY DETENTION CENTER FOR CHRISTIAN DETAINEES

 

Faith leaders Mark Arabo to call for immediate release of over 27 Iraqi Chaldean Christians being held for crossing border after fleeing ISIS.

July 28, 2015 (San Diego)- Since the rise of the Islamic State terrorists known as ISIS, many Iraqi Chaldean Christians have fled to neighboring countries. Some have been made it across the Mexico-US border. Now, 27 Iraqi Christian men and women have been imprisoned for over four months after fleeing ISIS. Word has come that their requests for asylum may also be denied, Mark Arabo told East County Magazine.

NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS WIDE RANGING MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE IN SAN DIEGO

 

East County News Service

July 25, 2015 (San Diego)--After discussion in the most recent Neighborhood Market Association (NMA) board meeting, a shift in the organization’s official position on minimum wage has been indicated. No longer will the NMA board support an exemption for small business.

SENATOR ANDERSON DEFENDS ALEC AS THOUSANDS PROTEST OUTSIDE

 

 

 

 

 

  East County News Service

 

 

July 23, 2015 (San Diego ) – While thousands of people protested yesterday outside the American Legislative Exchange Council’s national convention in San Diego, State Senator Joel Anderson (R-San Diego), California chair of ALEC, told Times of San Diego that is “proud” to have San Diego post ALEC’s national convention where legislators exchange ideas, adding, “ALEC takes on difficult, complicated issues and takes on free market solutions.” (View video, top of story)

As for the thousands of protesters, he said derisively, “There’s a naysayer in every crowd,” adding that the protesters “don’t like the free market.” As for criticisms of secret dealings behind closed doors, Anderson retorted, “We can’t respond to every wack-job” and insisted the process is not secretive, as critics claim. Reporter Ken Stone with Times of San Diego pressed Anderson, pointing out that he had been denied access to cover some key sessions.

The protesters included a  prominent local business organization as well as labor, environmental, human rights and political reform organizations. They contend that secretive actions conducted behind closed doors by ALEC result in laws that hurt small businesses in America and weaken protections for workers, the environment, and civil rights.

VARGAS, ARABO IN FOX NEWS SPECIAL: CROSSING JORDAN

 

June 27, 2015 (San Diego)--Congressman Juan Vargas and Mark Arabo will be featured in an hour-long special, “Crossing Jordan—Escape from Terror” on Fox News detailing their work  to help facilitate safe passage for religious minorities out of Iraq and Syria, and to secure their freedom.

The program anchored by Bret Baier premiered Friday night and will air again on Saturday, June 27 at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time and on Sunday, June 28 at 6 p.m. Pacific Standard time.

IRAQI CHRISTIANS WHO FLED ISIS ARE IN DETENTION CENTER AT OTAY: LOCAL LEADERS CALL FOR RELEASE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

East County News Service

Photos of rally by Peter Mansour

June 24, 2015 (San Diego) – Clergy members and Iraqi community leaders held a prayer vigil on June 18th, calling for release Iraqi Chaldean Christians held in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center.

Since the rise of ISIS, many Iraqi Chaldean Christian have fled to neighboring countries. Some have been fortunate enough to make it across the Mexico-US border. But many of these Christians have now been imprisoned in the detention center for up to four months without any indication of imminent release, despite testimony from Christian family members in San Diego that can vouch for their identity.

MARK ARABO SPEAKS AT ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN POWAY SUNDAY JUNE 7 AND JUNE 28

 

Upcoming Sunday Education:

June 4, 2015 (Poway) Sunday, June 7 and 28, at 9 a.m., St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Poway will host an Education Summit.  Nationally-recognized global humanitarian Mark Arabo will share details of the urgent circumstances in Iraq and neighboring Syria. He will provide insights into how we may be able to help our fellow Christians in the part of the world where Christianity was born. The theme of Arabo’s speech will be “Persecution of Christians in the Middle East.”

ARABO SPEAKS OUT ON ISIS RANSOM DEMANDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 1, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Islamic State or ISIS forces are reportedly demanding ransoms of up to $100,000 apiece for 250 to 300 Christians captured in Syria February 23rd.  Fox News reports the demands were made to Assyrian leaders during negotiations with ISIL fighters arranged by Sunni Muslims.  Thus far, 23 have been released.

ISIS VIDEO SHOWS KILLINGS OF 15 CHRISTIANS IN LIBYA

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 18, 2015 (San Diego)—A video released by the Islamic State, or ISIS, shows the apparent killings of 15 Christians in Libya—half by beheading, the rest by shooting. The victims are believed to be Ethiopian Christians, CNN reports.  A message in the graphic 29-minute video makes clear the executions were motivated by religious hate, stating “Muslim blood shed under the hand of your religion is not cheap.”

EL CAJON COUNCIL TO CONSIDER BALLOT MEASURE FOR STRICTER ALCOHOL CONTROLS

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 10, 2015 (El Cajon )—At Tuesday's El Cajon City Council meeting, the City Council will discuss a proposal for a ballot initiative to crack down on alcohol sales to minors and chronic drunks, as well as potentially ban sales of powdered alcohol.

“My goal is to make this the strongest law in the United States to stop sales of alcohol to children and serial inebriates,” Vice Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kendrick told East County Magazine.

BILL TO EXPEDITE HELP FOR IRAQI REFUGEES INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 25, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - A bill introduced this week by San Diego Congressional members Juan Vargas, a Democrat, and Duncan Hunter, a Republican, would provide expedited processing for religious minorities in Iraq/Syria.

U.S. BISHOPS CALL ON U.S. AND EUROPE TO HELP SAVE SYRIAN REFUGEES

 

Arabo praises support for relocation of displaced Christians

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Syrian refugee children at clinic in Jordan, by Russell Watkins, Dept. for International Development

March 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County ) – Today the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the global community, led by the United States and Europe, to take action to save the lives of 4 million Syrian refugees.

ISIS SEIZES HUNDREDS OF CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA

 

Trials by ISIS underway as some captives reportedly freed; local Chaldean leaders speak out on crisis

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Open Doors

March 1,2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Fears mount for hundreds of Assyrian Christians taken captive by ISIS last week, amid reports that the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants are putting hostages on trial, though some reports indicate that a handful have been freed. 

The hostages include at least 262 men, women and children taken from villages in northeastern Syria, CNN reports.  Open Doors USA, an organization serving persecuted Christians worldwide, reports the captives include 72 families.

EGYPT STRIKES LIBYA IN RETALIATION FOR ISIS VIDEO SHOWING MURDER OF CHRISTIANS

 

By Miriam Raftery

San Diego (February 16, 2015) – Egypt has launched airstrikes at  Islamic State (ISIL) jihadists in Libya, CNN reports.  The attacks are in retaliation for ISIS claims of killing 21 Egyptian Christians, including approximately a dozen whose beheadings were shown in the latest gruesome video released by ISIL.

Mark Arabo, a national spokesman for Iraqi Chaldean Christians in San Diego, issued a statement to media voicing concern for other Christians in the wake of the murders, denouncing ISIL for conducting "Christian genocide."

CHRISTIANS TAKE UP ARMS AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ,

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Islamic State militants

February 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) --Hundreds of Christians in Iraq are taking up arms and training to fight against Islamic State forces and reclaim their towns, the Wall Street Journal reports.

POPE FRANCIS ISSUES RULING FOR LOCAL IRAQI CHRISTIAN CHURCH: WILL NOT SEND FATHER NOEL TO IRAQ

 

Ruling protects priests across U.S., overrules patriarch’s decision

East County News Service

Photo:  Father Noel with Congressman Juan Vargas late last year; photo by Miriam Raftery

(January 8, 2015)- In a landmark decision, Pope Francis has ruled in favor of St. Peter's Chaldean Church in El Cajon in its battle to keep Father Noel Gorgis safely here.

LOCAL REACTIONS TO OBAMA ORDERING 1500 TROOPS TO MIDDLE EAST

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 18, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Last week, President Barack Obama announced that he is sending an additional 1,500 U.S. troops to Iraq to train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the region, doubling the current number of troops deployed there. The President will also ask Congress for an addition $5.6 billion to help fight the terrorist group ISIL (also known as ISIS), or the Islamic State.

LOCAL CHALDEAN CHURCH APPEALS TO POPE TO SAVE PRIESTS ORDERED TO RETURN TO IRAQ OR FACE SUSPENSION

 

Photo: Father Noel and Congressman Juan Vargas, at Chaldean-American Association banquet Oct. 30

By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2014 (El Cajon)—Father Noel at St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon is among nine Chaldean Catholic priests ordered to return to Iraq, a situation that likely amounts to a death sentence, or be suspended from the priesthood.

Louis Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, ordered nine priests from the local diocese suspended on October 22 for refusing to return to Iraq, where priests are being tortured and murdered by ISIS terrorists and mass is no longer being held due to the danger.  Now the Eparchy of St. Peter has appealed these suspensions to Pope Francis.

Under church canons, the suspensions are on hold until the Pope issues his decision.

OBAMA ISSUES ORDER TO IMPROVE CREDIT & DEBIT CARD SECURITY

 

October 24, 2014 (Washington D.C.)  - President Barack Obama has issue a White House initiative introducing PIN technology to make credit transactions more secure, providing greater security for both business owners and consumers.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “WE WILL DEGRADE AND ULTIMATELY DESTROY ISIL”

 

Watch on YouTube

Read the President's full address here.

By Miriam Raftery

September 10, 2014 (Washington D.C.)-- President Obama tonight spoke to the nation , laying out a comprehensive strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) terrorist group that has declared an Islamic state across Iraq and Syria, massacring thousands of Iraqis and beheading two captured American journalists.

“Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.  Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” the President said. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.  This is a core principle of my presidency:  If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

The President made clear that the U.S. will lead an international effort to eradicate ISIL. He assured that unlike the past decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, this conflict will not include U.S. combat troops on the ground.  Instead, he laid out a four-part strategy. First, air strikes will target ISIL in Iraq, Syria and wherever else ISIL poses a threat.

ASYLUM BILL INTRODUCED FOR IRAQI RELIGIOUS MINORITIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

“We are confident that with the continued support of the citizens of San Diego, we will not only be able to give a hope to the hopeless, but a state to the stateless.” -- MarkArabo

September 9, 2014 (San Diego) – Congressman Juan Vargas is introducing a new bill that would grant asylum for religious minorities displaced by the ISIS, or Islamic State, terrorists in Iraq.

OVER A HALF MILLION DOLLARS RAISED LOCALLY TO HELP IRAQI CHRISTIANS

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Noori Barka speaks as slideshow depicts Iraqi Christian refugees forced to walk across the desert, fleeing their homeland to escape ISIS terrorists with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

 

September 4, 2014 (ElCajon)--Community members and religious leaders came together on August 27  in El Cajon at a fundraiser to help save Christians in Iraq who have fled their homes to escape the Islamic State imposed by ISIS terrorists.  ISIS is systematically massacring Christians and other minorities who refuse to convert to Islam.  The event, which was emceed by KCBQ radio host Mark Larson, raised over $588,000. 

Bishop Sharhad Jammo (photo, right) has pledged to personally  travel to the Middle East to deliver the donations, despite grave dangers in the region, where Christian religious leaders have been kidnapped, tortured and murder.

Pages