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    » 06/18/2007, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Chaldean priest abducted in Baghdad is free and in good health



    Fr Hani Abdel Ahad is released after 12 days. “He is very tired but was not mistreated,” says someone who met him. Persecution of Christians now moves to the al-Amariya and Hai al-Jamiya neighbourhoods with bombs placed in a home garden and threats of beheading.

    Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Fr Hani Abdel Ahad, the Chaldean priest kidnapped last June 6 in Baghdad, is free and in good health. According to Mgr Jacques Issac, rector of Babel College, who visited him yesterday at the Chaldean Bishop’s Residence in the Iraqi capital, the clergyman “is very tired, but in good conditions. He was not mistreated” during his 12-day ordeal.

    Father Hani, 33, is parish priest at the Wisdom Chaldean Church. He was abducted along with five other young Christian men who were on their way to a minor seminary in Baghdad. The young men were released the following day but a “big ransom” was demanded for the release of the priest. The kidnappers, probably common criminals interested only in money, contacted the Chaldean Patriarch, Card Emmanuel III Delly, telling him their demands.

    Father Hani’s abduction took place just three days before the barbaric murder of Fr Ragheed Gani and three subdeacons in Mosul. His is the eighth case of abduction of a Chaldean priest in the capital.

    In Iraq kidnapping priests or even worse, killing them, is not only a source of money but also a way to terrorise the now shrinking Christian community whose surviving members resist against al odds against an ongoing campaign of persecution.

    After the Dora neighbourhood was ethnically cleansed of most of its Christian residents, now the al-Amariya and Hai al-Jamiya neighbourhoods are being targeted.

    According to sources of ankawa.com two families in al-Amariya who refused to leave their homes were finally persuaded by a bomb blast in their garden, which seriously damaged the buildings. No one was injured but the families found themselves in the street during the night time curfew and had to find refuge with neighbours.

    When they tried to get back home after the curfew to salvage some of their belongings they were met by terrorists who threatened to behead them and then burn them.

    The death threats did not even spare the families’ Muslim neighbours who had tried to help the hapless Christians.

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    See also

    06/06/2007 IRAQ
    Chaldean priest kidnapped in Baghdad
    Father Hani was taken on his way to the capital’s minor seminar. Five boys were abducted with him. Christians are plunged into a state of gloom.

    07/06/2007 IRAQ
    Four Christians abducted yesterday are released in Baghdad
    Chaldean clergyman, Father Hani, and one of the five boys accompanying him on a visit to a minor seminar in the capital are still being held but negotiations are underway to free them. Released prisoners are said to be in good conditions.

    15/01/2007 IRAQ
    Chaldean Seminary and Theological University inaugurated in Kurdistan
    After being forced to leave Baghdad, the Chaldean Church’s two educational institutions have reopened. Meanwhile the capital is being emptied of its Christians whose historic neighbourhood is presently in the hands of Sunni militias.

    08/01/2008 IRAQ – SYRIA
    Iraqi priest abducted and tortured in Iraq because he was Christian
    Fr Hani Abdel Ahad, abducted in Baghdad in June of last year and held for 12 days, tells AsiaNews about his captivity, the daily violence he experienced, the psychological threats and physical torture he endured. Money is not the only motive behind the abduction of priests. “I experienced first hand the deep hatred terrorists have for Christians and suffered on my body their plans to drive them out Iraq,” he said. Still convalescing for the hardships he had to endure, he is thankful to God for his faith, only “hope for a better future.”

    10/01/2008 IRAQ
    Archbishop of Kirkuk says bombs will not kill hope or stop dialogue
    Following yesterday’s two attacks against the Chaldean cathedral and a Syro-Orthodox Church, Msgr. Sako speaks of a “political message aimed at Christians” and guarantees that “our commitment to building peaceful coexistence will not stop”. Appeal to the faithful of the world: we will not give in but we need your prayers.



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