Unholy Month of Ramadan: Persecution of Assyrians Increases in Iraq

Asia News October 18, 2006

Fasting from sunrise to sunset is a struggle for Muslims during this month of Ramadan. The month will present a more dangerous struggle for non-Muslims in Iraq, against whom Islamic terrorists promise to increase their violence.

On Thursday, October 12, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Mosul, Saliba Chamoun, buried one of his priests, the latest victim of violence targeting Christians and other minorities in Iraq during Ramadan. Father Boulos Iskander had been kidnapped the previous Monday by an unknown Islamic extremist group. Family and church authorities negotiated with the abductors, who demanded $350,000 in ransom, but later promised to reduce the amount to $40,000 if Pope Benedict XVI’s reference to historical Islamic violence was publicly condemned.

The ransom was raised and paid. St. Epharim’s parishioners dutifully posted 30 large signs on walls around the city repudiating the Pope’s statements. They awaited word of Fr. Iskander’s promised release. On Wednesday in the Tahir City District, a mile from the Mosul city center, the priest’s body was found. Fr. Iskander’s severed head lay atop his chest. His severed arms and legs were placed around his head.

The same day as Fr. Iskander’s kidnapping, the leader of the Mandaean religious community (followers of John the Baptist), Sheikh Raad Mutar Saleh, was assassinated in Suweira, 35 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Also, during that same violent week, there were reports that a 14-year-old boy was crucified in the Christian neighborhood of Albasra. Unfortunately, the killing of children is not a new tactic of Muslim insurgents targeting Christians; nor is its practice limited to Ramadan.

. . . more