01/18/2005, 00.00
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I prayed and was ready for the worse, says the Bishop of Mosul

In this exclusive interview with AsiaNews only a few hours after his release, Bishop Casmoussa explains that his abduction was something done to get the Americans out of the country.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Basile Georges Casmoussa, the Syrian-Catholic Bishop of Mosul, had given himself over to God, praying, ready for the "possibility that it might be the end".  With such emotions, he spent hours in the hands of his captors. Once a free man again, he was welcomed by his Muslim friends. His abduction was not anti-Christian, but was done against the Americans.

Here is his interview with AsiaNews.

How were you abducted?

I had gone to see a family in one of the city's neighbourhoods. When I left at around 5.10 pm, a car blocked the road and armed men seized me and pushed into a car.

I spent the night in the place where they had taken me and then, in the morning, we talked. They told me that the Vatican and several news agencies had reported my disappearance. I then realised that my abduction was a coincidence.

When they realised who I was things changed and they freed me around 12:30 pm. After that I took a cab and came home. My captors treated me well.

Where you afraid or confident during your hours of captivity?

In such a situation you expect the worse. I was calm and thought about the possibility that it might be the end for me. Thank God, it worked out for me.

I prayed all the time. I gave myself completely over to God and Providence.

This morning I prayed for those I felt were praying for me.

How did Mosul Muslims react to your abduction and liberation?

Muslim friends phone to welcome me home. I have friends among the city's Muslim notables and know many other.

How can you explain your abduction?

I don't think it was something anti-Christian. It think it was something done to get the Americans out of the country. There is no common ground between Iraqi Christians and the occupiers.

Some say that such things never happened under Saddam Hussein, when Christians were free and respected . . .

There is no comparison possible. Under Saddam there was security but also a lot of injustice. What we want now is security to get home safe and sound.

Will the elections be the start of Iraq's renaissance?

We hope so, but only if there is a great turnout in an atmosphere of security, which currently does not exist in some regions.

What can the international community, Europe in particular, to help Iraq?

It can put pressure on the US to improve its policy towards Iraq and its people as well as set a timetable for withdrawing its troops. (LF)

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