I’m writing to correct the Nov. 4 front-page special report, “Muslims in America,” in which people of Chaldean descent living in Detroit were referred to as “Arab Americans.”
Chaldeans are not Arabs, nor are they Muslims. Chaldeans are descendants of ancient Mesopotamians the Assyrians and Babylonians. They are a people who have inhabited Mesopotamia for thousands of years. Arabs are not descendants of ancient Mesopotamians. In 634, Arabs appeared in Mesopotamia and conquered the region.
Chaldeans speak Aramaic, the language Jesus Christ spoke. They were among the first Christians in the Church of the East. Today, Chaldeans represent most of the 3 percent Christian minority in Iraq. They belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is in full communion with the Holy See.
Many Chaldeans have immigrated to the United States, beginning early in the 20th century. They have come to find opportunity and to escape religious persecution. They have also come to escape the Arabization policies of the Iraqi regime, which has made it increasingly difficult for them to maintain their language and culture.
Those Chaldeans who have immigrated here are proud and grateful to be Americans.
CHRISTOPHER J. MATTIA
West Bloomfield, Mich.