AINA Editorial
'Don't Cry, Sandra' -- Immortal Words of Faith and Hope From an Assyrian Refugee Girl
By Peter BetBasoo
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Best friends Miriam and Sandra, two Assyrians girls from Baghdede (Qaraqosh), Iraq, who were separated when their families fled from ISIS.
(AINA) -- During Christmas week of 2014 Sat7, an Arabic language children's satellite channel, visited Assyrian refugees in the Assyrian town of Ankawa, a suburb of Arbel, Iraq. Ankawa received nearly 70,000 of the 200,000 Assyrian refugees who were driven from their homes and villages from the Nineveh Plains by ISIS. All 50,000 residents of the Assyrian city of Baghdede (Qaraqosh) fled their homes, most of them arriving in Ankawa.

Sat7 interviewed a 10 year-old Assyrian girl named Miriam. This interview has gone viral in the Arab speaking world. In the interview Miriam asks God to forgive ISIS and says "I won't do anything to them, I will only ask God to forgive them."

In the interview Miriam says she had a friend, Sandra, whom she loved very much but now she does not know where she is.

A lebanese television host, Tony Khalife, working for the show 1544 on MTV, interviewed Miriam on March 16 and asked her where Sandra is. Miriam said that Sandra had gone to Beirut. Mr. Khalife promised that he would find Sandra and reunite her with Miriam.

The original Sat7 interview with Miriam, the Assyrian girl from Baghdede (Qaraqosh).

On March 23 Mr. Khalife brought Sandra into the studio and reunited her, via television, with Miriam. The program opened with an excerpt from the Sat7 interview where Miriam expressed her desire to see her friend Sandra. While Miriam was watching from Arbel, the program showed Sandra in her home in Beirut and spoke to her about Miriam. Sandra said she loves Miriam very much and wishes to see her again.

Mr. Khalife then turned to Miriam and asked if this is Sandra. Miriam said yes, this is my friend Sandra. He asked if she would like to speak to Sandra. Miriam said yes.

When Mr. Khalife directed Sandra to speak to Miriam, Sandra was overwhelmed with emotion and began crying. Mr. Khalife asked Sandra why she is crying. All of this was being conducted in Arabic. At that point Miriam spoke in Assyrian and said ܠܐ ܒܟ̣ܝܬ ܣܢܕܪܐ -- "Don't cry, Sandra." She then switched to Arabic and said "Don't cry, Sandra, my friend, don't cry."

Three immortal words -- "don't cry, Sandra" -- spoken at the moment of joy and pain, of tears and laughter -- having both lost their homes, their way of life, the happiness they knew and their innocence. At that moment Miriam instinctively comforts her friend in her native language, Assyrian, and in so doing comforts all the Assyrian refugees and all Assyrians around the world.

At that moment, speaking in the language of Christ, Miriam unknowingly but defiantly affirms her Assyrian ethnicity and her Christian faith.

At that moment the calamity inflicted on the Assyrians by ISIS is at once mitigated, the hope that is lost is at once restored. ISIS may drive Assyrians out of their homes, ISIS may destroy Assyrian churches, ISIS may destroy Assyrian archaeological sites, but ISIS cannot destroy the Assyrian spirit.

The video showing best friends Miriam and Sandra reunited.

In the two days since this interview was posted on youtube Miriam's three words have had a profound impact on the Assyrians in the Diaspora. Nearly every Assyrian who has seen this video invariably breaks into tears when Miriam speaks those words in her native tongue. They are tears of sorrow, but they are also tears of pride and hope in the knowledge that this, like the numerous other genocides Assyrians have suffered throughout their history including the Turkish genocide in 1915 whose centennial anniversary is this year, this, too, shall pass.

"Don't cry, Sandra" are not just words of comfort, they are words of hope and love. This 10 year-old Assyrian girl teaches ISIS that love is what humanity should strive for, love and charity in the service of mankind.

What do ISIS and Islam teach the world?

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