Iraq: Syrian-Orthodox Clergyman Decapitated
The Syriac-Orhtodox [sic] priest Paulos Iskandar was kidnapped this Monday, October 9, and beheaded today Wednesday October 11.
Christians are living a terrified life in Mosul and Baghdad. Several priests have been kidnapped, girls are being raped and murdered and a couple of days ago a fourteen year old boy was crucified in the Christian neighborhood Albasra.
Relatives of an Orthodox priest who was kidnapped and found beheaded three days later said Thursday that his captors had demanded his church condemn the pope's recent comments about Islam and pay a US$350,000 (€280,000) ransom.
The Persecution.org piece linked above states that the motives for the kidnapping and murder are unknown. However, the AINA piece and IHT story linked above purport that the motive kidnapping and murder of Father Iskandar was in response to Pope Benedict XVI's infamous Regensburg address titled "Faith, Reason and Uncertainty".
In this speech, the Pope assailed the West's redundant approach to debate and discussion and challenged for other "cultures" to engage with the West with "logos" (or knowledge/reason):
The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. "Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God", said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.
This was his main point. It had nothing to do with slandering Islam. I will not do his fine speech the injustice of reproducing his quote of a quote of a Christian Byzantine Emperor that was widely quoted in the MSM and drew ironic angry and violent responses from the Ummah. Indeed, far from attacking Islam or inciting hatred of it, he was challenging the Ummah to engage in meaningful (ie. reasonable) dialogue with the West.
Note however, that being a dhimmi, did not spare Father Iskandar's life:
Before Iskender was kidnapped, his relatives said, the church already had put up signs condemning the statement and calling for good relations between Christians and Muslims. The message was posted again, they said, after the priest's kidnappers made their demand.
Since Saddam's regime fell, Christians of all stripes in Iraq, dhimmi and non-dhimmi, Catholic, Syrian-Orthodox or Reformed, have been attacked and harrassed. This has been covered in drips and draps in the MSM and other outlets:
- The Guardian (6 October 2006)
- ABC Lateline (2 October 2006)
- ABC Lateline - again (3 December 2004)
- Fox News (13 November 2004)
- Al-Jazeera (2 August 2004)
- The Christian Science Monitor (21 April 2003)
- GlobalSecurity.org (Undated)
Clarity & Resolve states that:
This is the vicious, ancient religious behavior that Saddam kept in check with his vicious modern secular behavior.
Correct in that Saddam didn't annihilate Christian Iraqi villages, very incorrect in that he annihilated Kurdish Iraqi ones and was responsible for the murder of thousands Iraqi dissidents. That's why he is in the dock in Baghdad.
The irony of the coverage of the poor plight of Iraqi Christians is that the stories are published by a media that lusts for a withdrawal from Iraq. This will only serve to worsen their situation. This sort of logic was that which the Pope assailed in his Regensburg address. However, it is also this part of the Pope's speech that was stubbornly ignored by the West and the Ummah.
It has been my opinion for some time that Iraq was a major strategic blunder in the WIF.
But if this incident (and many others like it) demonstrates anything, it is this: the West should redouble its efforts in targeting and killing Islamofascists running amok in Iraq, not cut-and-run.
Disclaimer: I am a Christian with close (and friendly) links to the Syrian-Orthodox Church.