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Many Metro Detroit Chaldeans Affected By Violence In Iraq

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KALAK, IRAQ - JUNE 14:  Families arrive at a Kurdish checkpoint next to a temporary displacement camp on June 14, 2014 in Kalak, Iraq. Thousands of people have fled Iraq's second city of Mosul after it was overrun by ISAS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants. Many have been temporarily housed at various IDP (internally displaced persons) camps around the region including the area close to Erbil, as they hope to enter the safety of the nearby Kurdish region.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

KALAK, IRAQ – JUNE 14: Families arrive at a Kurdish checkpoint next to a temporary displacement camp on June 14, 2014 in Kalak, Iraq. Thousands of people have fled Iraq’s second city of Mosul after it was overrun by ISAS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants. Many have been temporarily housed at various IDP (internally displaced persons) camps around the region including the area close to Erbil, as they hope to enter the safety of the nearby Kurdish region. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

DETROIT (WWJ) — As tensions in Iraq heat up, the local Chaldean community is keeping a close eye on developments.

Among the 150,000 Chaldeans in the metro Detroit area, many still have family in Iraq while others still travel there frequently.

Martin Manna, the president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, said that there has been deep concern among his community.

“We also have several members of the Chaldean Chamber who do business in Iraq,” Manna said. “Some were in Baghdad, a lot have gone to the north — we’re getting reports that many of them that were Muslim now are in the surrounding Christian villages that are being protected by Kurdish forces.”

Manna said that his organization is in touch with the U.S. State Department as well as elected officials on a daily basis for updates on developments.

“Senator (Carl) Levin and Senator (Debbie) Stabenow have been very supportive of our position,” Manna said.

Manna is also concerned that what happened recently in Syria could happen in Iraq.

“These rebel forces are brutal — they’re the same forces in Syria that had crucified priests, beheaded some people, even raped nuns,” Manna said. “It’s just brutal acts of violence and so there’s a tremendous amount of concern.”

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