03/03/2008, 00.00

Muslim leaders also call for the release of the bishop of Mosul

No contacts with Mgr Faraj Rahho’s kidnappers. In Mosul people are still convinced he is alive despite the lack of any evidence. In Kirkuk a representative of al-Sadr’s Shia movement raises a banner that says that “Such actions are bad for Iraq.” The Chaldean community makes a “pained appeal.”

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Negotiations for the release of the Chaldean bishop of Mosul who was seized last Friday as he came out of Holy Spirit Church are at a standstill. But more and more Muslim leaders are expressing their solidarity towards the Christian community. For his part Mgr Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, appealed for an end to “the Iraqi people’s tragedy.”

Sources in the Mosul diocese confirmed to AsiaNews that there have been no new contacts with the prelate’s abductors. But “we believe Mgr Paulos Faraj Rahho is still alive even though we have no concrete evidence to prove it,” the sources said.

Nothing is known yet about the abductors’ identity. When they seized the prelate last Friday they killed three people who were in a car with him, but more and more people believe they are a criminal gang out for money. In fact a ransom for Monsignor Rahho’s release has been asked but no deadline has been set.

Iraqi police has set up a special task force to investigate the clergyman’s disappearance. Their operations are centred in Mosul’s al-Nour neighbourhood where the kidnapping took place.

More voices are coming together in an appeal for the bishop’s release. The European Union joined the Pope, the Bishops’ Council of Nineveh and the Chaldean National Council in making an appeal. The EU’s Slovenian presidency has called for the prelate’s unconditional release, urging Iraqi authorities to do their utmost to solve the case in a positive way.

Iraq’s Chaldean community has made its own pained appeal. “From Iraq’s tragedy and the suffering of an entire people, we say: Enough with the war! Enough with abductions! Enough with killing the innocent! Let us learn to live together in our diversity as our religions teach us. Despite its suffering, Iraq’s Christian community has for a minute not lost hope and a desire for dialogue to show that Christians and Muslims can be friends.”

Archbishop Sako told AsiaNews that “in such moments the two communities are as one voice calling for Monsignor Faraj’s release.”

In Mosul Sunni leaders have slammed the abduction, whilst in Kirkuk a representative of the al-Sadr’s Shia movement has raised a banner that says that “Such actions are bad for Iraq."

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See also
Kidnappers reaffirm their demands in Mosul archbishop’s abduction
Christians and Muslims show solidarity for Kirkuk attack victims
Hope for peace in Iraq voiced in New Year Mass
Love for our “Muslim brothers and for Iraq” in Mgr Rahho’s Will
The Church in Iraq does not give in to terrorism