Assyrians are an ancient people whose Christian roots trace back to the apostle known as “doubting” Thomas.

There’s no doubt that Assyrians are under siege in more modern times, often the target of ISIS in their ancestral homelands in Iraq and Syria, and fleeing to the U.S. and elsewhere.

Thousands of Assyrians have left their homes in the Middle East because of Islamic extremism and other turmoil, and a number have settled in the Chicago area, adding to a local presence that dates back more than a century.

According to one account, Assyrians first arrived in the Chicago area in the late 1800s for education and as refugees, the latter settling on the Near North Side and generally belonging to six different denominations.

Recently, the Assyrian American Association of Chicago, a cultural center in Rogers Park, celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Today, there could be as many as 100,000 Assyrians in Illinois.

One of them, Reine Hanna, co-authored a scathing new “human rights” report on the plight of Christians remaining in Iraq.

The Religion Roundup is a new weekly report, also featured on WBBM Newsradio (780 AM and 105.9 FM) on Sunday at these times:  6:22 a.m., the 9:22 a.m. (unless pre-empted by Bears coverage) and 9:22 p.m. For more religion coverage, check out the “Face to Faith” column at For tips and comments, email Robert Herguth at