SD Iraqi community devastated by ISIS attacks

SAN DIEGO - Here in San Diego, the second largest community of Iraqi Christians in the U.S. has been watching the rampage unfold in their home country.        

Many were devastated when their 1,800 year old church in Mosul, Iraq, was set ablaze this week by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

Monsignor Emad Hanna Al Shaihk, head of El Cajon’s Our Mother of Perpetual Help Syriac Catholic Church, was baptized at the Syriac Catholic Church in Mosul in 1955. It is now in total ruins.

“Horrible, it hurts, really it hurts,” Al Shaihk said.

The Al-Tahara church, the Mosul headquarters of the Syriac Catholic Diocese, was built around 200 A.D. Records housed there that dated back to near the time of Christ were reduced to ash.

The burning brings back terrible memories for El Cajon church member Ray Al-Samak. In the hallway of the church is a shrine to the 47 people murdered in 2010 inside a former Baghdad church he was baptized in.

For another church member who spent the first 30 years of her life in Mosul before coming to San Diego, it’s been hard to sleep. The woman, who did not want to be identified, told 10News her two brothers and their families are now seeking asylum after ISIS kicked them out of their homes in Mosul this week.

She said she was slightly relieved when her family left Mosul, but because ISIS is moving toward the village, she's now worried about where they'll go next.
Meanwhile, local Chaldean leader Mark Arabo is pushing lawmakers to vote on a resolution he drafted with U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas to expedite the visa process for hundreds of thousands of Christians trying to flee Iraq.

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