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Christian Iraqi: American Is Who I Became

In Iraq, churches are under attack from Islamic radicals. One Iraqi Christian fled to America, but her heart remains with her persecuted brothers and sisters. Read Transcript


A WOMAN AND CHRISTIAN,

GIVE IT A COUPLE MORE YEARS,

THANK YOU.

Reporter: ASIL HAS

ALWAYS BEEN BRIGHT AND

OPTMISTIC, BUT UNLIKE HER

POSITIVE PERSONALITY, MANY

OF HER CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

WERE SCARE SCARRED BY THE

DARK CLOUDS OF WAR.

I WAS VERY DETERMINED.

I JUST NEEDED TO GET AWAY.

I COULDN'T SEE ANY FUTURE

FOR MYSELF.

Reporter: SHE AND HER

FAMILY FLED BAGHDAD IN 1991

TO ESCAPE WHAT SEEMED LIKE

ENDLESS FIGHTING.

SHE WAS 10 YEARS OLD WHEN

THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR STARTED.

AFTER A MONTH, SEEKING

REFUGE IN JORDAN, SHE

CONVINCED HER DAD TO TAKE

HER TO A COUNTRY SHE ALWAYS

DREAMED OF VISITING.

I BEGGED MY FATHER.

I SAID, DAD, PLEASE JUST GO

TO THE AMERICAN EMBASSY.

LET'S JUST TRY.

IT WAS LIKE A DREAM TO ME,

LIBERTY AND FREEDOM OF

EXPRESSION.

I DIDN'T GROW UP WITH THAT,

SO I REALLY WANTED IT.

Reporter: SHE AND HER

FATHER HAD ROUND-TRIP

TICKETS TO VISIT HER FAMILY

IN KENTUCKY, BUT HER AUNT

HAD OTHER PLANS, AND THEY

DIDN'T INCLUDE RETURNING TO

THE DICTATORIAL REGIME OF

SADDAM HUSSEIN.

SHE TOLD MY FATHER, THIS

GIRL, I WILL NEVER, EVER LET

HER LEAVE.

MY FATHER WAS, WHAT ARE YOU

TALKING ABOUT?

SHE IS MY DAUGHTER.

Reporter: HER AUNT

HELPED HER GET INTO KENTUCKY

UNIVERSITY'S ART PROGRAM.

BEING IRAQI IS WHO I AM,

WHO I HAVE BEEN.

BEING AMERICA, ON THE OTHER

HAND, IS WHO I BECAME AND

GREW INTO.

Reporter: AND RECENTLY,

ON THE 22nd ANNIVERSARY OF

THE U.S. BILL OF RIGHTS, SHE

TOOK THE OATH.

*

Reporter: AND SHE

BECAME AN AMERICAN CITIZEN.

SURROUNDED BY OUR FOUNDING

DOCUMENT AT THE NATIONAL

ARCHIVES IN WASHINGTON,

D.C.

THIS COUNTRY IS WONDERFUL

IN OPENING ITS DOORS TO

IMMIGRANTS.

AND VERY OFTEN YOU COME AND

YOU RUSH THROUGH THE

PROCESS.

FOR ME IT WAS MORE OF A

GROWING EXPERIENCE.

AND SO TODAY IT WAS MORE

LIKE I'M SEALING THE DEAL.

Reporter: SHE STILL

CARES DEEPLY FOR HER NATIVE

IRAQ AND ITS PEOPLE, BUT HER

HOPES HAVE DIMMED ON AN

ISSUE THAT HITS CLOSE TO

HOME: THE GROWING

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IN

THE MIDDLE EAST.

HONESTLY, I DON'T SEE A

FUTURE.

IT DOESN'T LOOK GOOD.

Reporter: SHE IS AN

IRAQI CHRISTIAN, HOME TO ONE

OF THE WORLD'S OLDEST

CHRISTIAN POPULATIONS.

IT IS CONSIDERED A VERY

HONEST AND FAIR COMMUNITY.

AND THEY GAVE A LOT TO IRAQ,

TO THE COUNTRY.

Reporter: BUT AFTER THE

IRAQ WAR BEGAN, CHRISTIANS

BECAME AN EASY TARGET,

FREQUENTLY PERSECUTED,

TORTURED, OR KILLED.

IN THE LAST 10 YEARS, OF THE

MORE THAN ONE MILLION

CHRISTIANS WHO ONCE CALLED

IRAQ HOME, ONLY ABOUT A

THIRD ARE LEFT, WITH MORE

FLEEING DAILY.

THERE IS JUST NO DOUBT

THAT ANCIENT AND HISTORIC

CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES ARE

THREATENED AS NEVER BEFORE.

Reporter: THE SITUATION

IS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME IN

SYRIA AND IN EGYPT, WHERE

STILL UNREST IS MAKING IT

NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR ONCE

ANCIENT COMMUNITIES TO

SURVIVE.

AS A NEW AMERICAN CITIZEN,

ASIL HAS HIGH HOPES FOR THE

COUNTRY SHE ONCE CALLED

HOME.

AND PLANS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE

OF THE RIGHTS SHE NEVER KNEW

IN IRAQ, LIKE VOTING.

SHE PLANS TO CAST HER VOTE

THIS SPRING.

A SCENARIO SHE UNDERSTANDS

IS UNIQUE TO THE AMERICAN

EXPERIENCE.

THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN IN

MANY COUNTRIES.

BUT IT DEFINITELY HAPPENS IN

THE UNITED STATES.

IT JUST GAVE ME THIS HOPE,

LIKE YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU

WANT.

YOU CAN BE ANYONE YOU WANT

TO BE.

AND THAT'S WHAT'S OWE

BEAUTIFUWHAT'S SO BEAUTIFUL

ABOUT THIS COUNTRY.

Reporter: JOHN JESSUP,

CBN NEWS, WASHINGTON.

EMBED THIS VIDEO


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