By Theodore Shoebat
A Christian pastor in Iraq was kidnapped, and he was later found dead with his eyes gouged out. According to one recent report that documented numerous attacks on Christian clergy in Iraq:
In December 2012, reports surfaced of the abduction of Syrian Orthodox priest Fadi Haddad, taken as he left his church in the town of Qatana to negotiate the release of one of his kidnapped parishioners. A week later, his mutilated corpse was found by the roadside, his eyes gouged out.
Iraq has also seen a rash of high-level clerical assassinations. In November 2006, Father Mundhir al-Dayr was taken from his Protestant church in Mosul and found later with a bullet in his head. As they went about their ministry in June 2007, Father Ragheed Ganni and three deacons were gunned down in their car, which was rigged with explosives to prevent anybody retrieving their bodies. Anglican Canon Andrew White, who leads a Baghdad ecumenical congregation, reported in November 2007: “All of my leadership were?.?.?.?taken and killed–all dead.”
Earlier this year, an Armenian Orthodox bishop from the region told me that two jihadis stopped and searched a bus in Syria, and from the group of largely Kurdish passengers took away two whom they identified from their names as Armenian Christians; soon, the jihadis returned and presented the passengers with a box containing the severed heads of the two Christians.
Prominent laypersons are also marked for assassination. Pascale Warda, Iraq’s minister of migration in 2004 and a Christian, survived four assassination attempts, including one that killed her four bodyguards. Iraq’s lay Christians have also been targeted for not abiding by Muslim dress or social codes. There are numerous documented reports of Christians killed by extremists for mingling with the opposite sex, or for operating “un-Islamic” businesses, such as liquor stores, cinemas, and hair salons. In 2010, roadside bombs blew up a convoy of school buses organized by the Catholic diocese to transport university students from the Christian towns of the Nineveh Plain to the University of Mosul. The attack occurred despite an army escort. Sandy Shibib, a young woman studying biology, was killed from shrapnel wounds to her head; one hundred and sixty others were injured. After this episode, a thousand Christian students withdrew from the university, which was exactly the result the terrorists hoped for.
Some Islamic extremists present Christians with an alternative to death: conversion to Islam, or acceptance of a second-class citizenship that sometimes involves paying protection money. Fear that their flocks will be consigned to this second-class status is one of the greatest concerns expressed by Middle Eastern Christian leaders, who understand that it will create unbearable pressure on them to emigrate.
In 2006, Sunni extremists in Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood issued a fatwa specifically giving this choice of conversion or death to the two thousand resident Christian families. The neighborhood was emptied of its Christians overnight. One of those who left was Donny George, the former head of the Baghdad Museum who is credited with saving most of its antiquities from looting during the US invasion of 2003. He told me that he fled with his family after receiving a letter repeating the threat and containing a bullet. Like nearly all the other Dora Christians, he never returned. He later died in exile.
In July 2014, ISIS, after declaring the establishment of the Islamic State, told Christians in Mosul to “convert or die,” after stamping their homes with a red Arabic “nun” letter, or “N,” standing for Nazarene, a term for Christians. The Christians who could, fled, typically only with the clothes on their backs. Those who were too sick or old to leave were forced to become Muslims. All Mosul’s churches were shut down and stripped of their crosses, with some destroyed and others outfitted with loudspeakers to call Muslims to prayer and serve as mosques. Neither President Obama nor any member of his Cabinet took note of these developments until ISIS threatened to kill the residents of Sinjar, who were mostly Yazidis.
Although the murder happened in 2012, the story was unknown to us until now, and it is most pertinent that always remember the martyred saints of Christ!