At a high-end car and motorcycle dealership in Montreal, a Canadian-Jewish businessman has made it his mission to save Christian and Yazidi girls from ISIS. What began as just another business venture for Steve Maman, a car dealer specializing in luxury automobiles, would turn into saving the lives of thousands of people.
Born in Morocco and immigrating to Canada at a very young age, Maman describes himself as an Orthodox Jew who grew up with “a great sense of being proudly Jewish.” Maman’s journey began following the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein, sons of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Aside from their horrifying reputations consisting of rape, murder, and torture, the brothers also had a voracious appetite for fine automobiles.
“[Uday and Qusay] traveled the world to collect fine cars,” said Maman. “They had over 500 cars in their collection – the most valuable cars in the world – Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, you name it. They even had a 1958 Bentley Continental Dropped Coupe, which is worth several million dollars.”
Then He Learned About the Iraqi Genocide
At the time, Iraq would not allow any of these cars to leave the country. But Maman’s business inquiries resulted in a close friendship with Canon Andrew White, the former Anglican vicar of Baghdad’s St. George’s Church, known by many simply as “the Vicar of Baghdad.”
During one of their conversations, White told Maman of the dangerous situation facing the last five Iraqi Jews who lived in Baghdad. With a history stretching as far back as biblical times, the Iraqi Jewish population once numbered 150,000. This remnant celebrated Shabbat at St. George’s Church under White’s protection. White even recounted how they would celebrate Jewish holidays at the American embassy in Baghdad, alongside American Jews serving in the U.S military.