RU 09/2008 - IRAQ, Kidnapping of Mgr Rahho
- IRAQ: Since French television ignores this news - having only eyes and interest for the French-Columbian hostage Ingrid Betancourt even if there are no true news since 6 years -, we try with our poor means to reveal here, in their stead, what occurred last weekend in Iraq. On Friday, February 29th, 2008, at 5.30 PM, Mgr Rahho, 67, archbishop of the Chaldean Catholics in Mossul, a city located right before the frontier of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, had just finished the Via Crucis with his faithful in the cathedral of the Holy Spirit. After the ceremony, when he had just entered his car to go back to his residence, an armed man got near the car, shot the driver and two bodyguards and dashed away with the archbishop towards an unknown place. The three killed men were all Christians, family fathers of totally 9 children. Since, no news from the archbishop who is sick and needs medicines every day, except some rumours of ransom requests. The whole Catholic Church in Iraq is currently mobilized to collect money to release Mgr Rahho. But it should be known that the majority of the rich Christians left already since long time Iraq, a country which became a place of persecution of all kind for the Christians since the invasion of the Americans and their machine-gun carriers into Iraq in March 2003. Christendom has terribly decreased for 5 years, from 800,000 faithful under Sadam Hussein, to 400.000 today. Those who are staying there, are the poor Christians who don’t find a way to finance their escape towards places like the very close Syria, Jordan, or Kurdistan where hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees - including 30 to 40% of Christians! - pile up while waiting to be able to return to their homes. In Mossul, of the 40,000 Christians living there 5 years ago, only a few hundred are remaining. For all that, we must say a huge thank you to a certain Georges Bush and a certain Tony Blair, gangsters who play, in front of the whole world, the comedy of being “personally Christians”.
It’s true that Mossul in Mesopotamia, anciently Nineveh, one of the oldest cities of the world, christianized already in the 2nd/3rd century, is today an ethnic melting-pot. The recent persecution of the Christians made several victims there. On October 11th, 2006 Fr. Paulos Iskander, priest in Mosul, was kidnapped. During 2 days of negotiation the sum required by the kidnappers was collected and transmitted, but the priest was finally decapitated, after torture (legs and arms cut). The reason had been the remarks of the pope in Regensburg/Germany on Islam. The kidnappers requested that the priest distance himself from these remarks, what he did, and also his family. - Ten days later, on October 21st, 2006, a Christian boy of 14 years, called Iyad Yanhar, was decapitated at 6 AM at Bakuba, in the province of Diala in the east of Baghdad. The aggressors cried to him: “Allah U Akbar” (Allah is big), and “You are a Christian, a non-believer”. The boy had just the time to answer, according to a hidden witness: “Yes, I’m Christian, but I’m not a non-believer”, before being massacred. Since 2004 there were 46 attacks on churches. The Christians often receive threats saying that they must leave their home within 48 hours. After their departure, these “Sons of Mahommed” share the booty, i.e. the house and all what’s left inside, because these Christians did not have the time to carry away most of their goods. Christian young girls disappear, sometimes giving signs of life by anonymous telephone calls: “I’m now a Muslim, convert yourself to Islam, I beg you!” (this detail has been revealed to us by Mgr Georges El-Murr, currently residing at Amman in Jordan). - Lastly, on June 3rd, 2007, the Chaldean priest Raghid Ganni and his 3 deacons were assassinated in Mossul, close to the same church of the Holy Spirit, after celebration of the mass. The attackers made the wife of one of the deacons leave the car and killed all 4 of them by revolver.
Benedict XVI, at the time of his pastoral visit go Velletri/Italy, on September 23rd 2007, declared about persecutions: “It’s necessary to be able to make basic choices, to make radical renouncements, and if necessary even martyrdom. Today, like yesterday, the life of the Christian requires courage to go against the current, to love like Jesus did, who went to the sacrifice of Himself on the Cross”. Are we truly ready? - (RU; cf AsiaNews.it Jan.3,2008; Nordirak-Turabdin.info)
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