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  • » 09/03/2014, 00.00


    For Mosul archbishop, Islamist beheadings and barbarism stem from fear for their military defeats

    These are not "exceptional deeds," Mgr Nona said commenting the killing of US journalist Sotloff, because these people "do not value human life". This is "not an act of war, but an act of barbarism and brutality". Minorities are trying to work together but their scattering is an obstacle. Refugees still face a housing problem.

    Baghdad (AsiaNews) - "Killing a person in such a brutal way is not human. In the 21st century, it is unconceivable to witness such a sad and barbaric type of killing," said Mgr Shimoun Emil Nona, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, in northern Iraq, who spoke to AsiaNews about the execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff.

    The United States and Great Britain have confirmed the authenticity of the video released yesterday by the Islamist militia (titled 'A second message to America'), in which the journalist is beheaded.

    "We are not faced with exceptional deeds," the prelate added, "because this modus operandi by the Islamic Army is a normal thing". All we need to do is "just remember" what they did to our [Iraqi] Christians and other minorities. They do not think about others; they do not value human life."

    Steve Sotloff, 31, was a freelance journalist who worked for Time magazine, Foreign Policy, World Affairs Journal and the Christian Science Monitor. He is the second American journalist brutally killed by Islamic militants after his colleague James Foley.

    Commenting on his tragic fate, a spokesman for the Sotloff family described it as a horrible tragedy, saying that the family asked that their privacy be respected at this difficult time so that they could mourn their loss in private.

    Mgr Nona was the first to sound the alarm about the danger posed by the Islamist advance after their conquest of Mosul - when about half a million people, Muslims and Christians, fled in early June - and the establishment of a caliphate and the imposition of Sharia.

    For the bishop, decapitating  Sotloff "is not an act of war", but a "barbaric murder" of an innocent man, whose only fault was that he belonged to "a different religion or thought differently."

    Repeatedly, the prelate insisted that "this is not an act of war, but an act of barbarism and brutality".

    For him, decapitations and the online dissemination of the images show how the militias operate; at the same time, they are sign of their "fear" and "weakness" in the face of US air strikes that have blocked their push.

    "These brutal acts are not threats," he added. "They are the modus operandi on the ground. When they control an area, residents either submit to them, think like them, practice their faith, embrace their extremist vision or they are killed or driven out."

    The brutal killing of journalist reflects the many killings of Christians and members of other Iraqi minorities.

    "They have massacred so many people, but nobody is talking about it," he said.  "The videos are also a means of propaganda to challenge America."

    To counter the Islamic Army's logic of violence and terror, Iraqi civilians, the leaders of the Catholic Church, and the leaders of minorities must work together, help each other, and rebuild in harmony and unity.

    "Relations among the refugees, and minorities, are good," Mgr Nona said, "although it is hard to get together to develop joint projects. Christians, Turkmen, and Yazidis are dispersed over a geographically wide area and it is difficult to keep in touch. Yet, as much as possible, we try to collaborate".

    On the living conditions of refugees, the prelate said that there are "no shortages of food and water now," but the problem is "housing. Many people are living on the streets, sleeping in flowerbeds, or in public schools. But in a few days, they will have to leave them and we do not know where to put them . . . This is a big problem. There is no housing."

    For the archbishop, the fight against Islamists must "not only be with weapons" but must involve in-depth involvement with society and young people.

    "One has to understand why people, especially young people, are attracted to this ideology," he said.

    Such an effort calls for real "national reconstruction" in the capital Baghdad as well as in country's outlying regions.

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    See also

    13/11/2009 IRAQ
    Mosul celebrating the appointment of new archbishop after the death of Mgr Rahho
    Benedict XVI approves the election of Rev Emil Shimoun Nona by the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Church. The diocese had no leader since March 2008 when Mgr Rahho was abducted and murdered. Catholics in Mosul are full of “joy and renewed hope.”

    15/08/2014 IRAQ
    For Mosul Archbishop, Islamist violence has led to new "unity" among Christians and the Church of Iraq
    For Mgr Nona, hope remains alive at this dark moment. Renewed ties among the faithful and the members of the Chaldean Church are among the positive signs. Dignity and long-term prospects for displaced people must be restored. He expresses special thanks to AsiaNews for its solidarity initiative. Al Maliki leaves the field open for the formation of a government of national unity.

    01/03/2010 IRAQ
    Iraqi Christians demonstrate, fast against killings and the Nineveh “ghetto”
    People gather, pray and fast across Iraq against “targeted killings.” The archbishop of Mosul asks for security and an investigation into those who are responsible for the slaughter. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, the Muslim community must react and take concrete actions. The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad warns that Christians risk a holocaust at a fundamental moment.

    01/08/2005 IRAQ
    The Church in Iraq does not give in to terrorism
    A year ago terrorist attacks were carried out against five churches—St Paul's Church in Mosul was one of them. Today the Chaldean Bishop celebrated a mass to commemorate the event. "The Church is much better today [. . .] we have learnt to put into practice values like forgiveness".

    18/06/2014 IRAQ
    Auxiliary Bishop: as Christians leave, an apparent calm prevails before the storm in Baghdad
    For Archbishop Hanna Saad Sirop, the atmosphere in the capital is one of "fear mixed with foreboding." Many families are applying for baptism and marriage certificates in order to leave the city and find refuge. Chaldean Church leaders are concerned as their synod now seems in jeopardy. A civil war along sectarian lines appears increasingly likely; international pressure must be put on Baghdad.

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