ASIA/SYRIA - Anxiety for the bishops kidnapped. New details on the dynamics of the seizure

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - While among the Christians of Syria and around the world anxiety increases for the fate of Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos al-Yazigi - Syrian Orthodox and Greek-Orthodox bishops of Aleppo kidnapped last Monday in the area between the metropolis and the Syrian border with Turkey - new eloquent details emerge on the dynamics of the kidnapping. The two Eastern Metropolitans were captured by their so far unknown kidnappers while they were carrying out a plan agreed between them to allow the Greek-Orthodox Bishop Boulos to return to his episcopal see, from which he had been absent for three months.
Sources resident in Turkey confirm to Fides Agency that the Metropolitan Boulos al-Yazigi since last February had left Syria to visit the Greek-Orthodox Christian communities in Turkish territory that fall under the jurisdiction of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. A project of making his first return to Syria through Lebanon had proved impossible. At that point, the Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim had offered his collaboration to allow Boulos al-Yazigi to return to the diocese and to share with his priests and faithful the suffering endured by all due to the civil war. On Monday morning Mar Gregorios had gone with his driver to the border with Turkey specifically to pick up the Greek-Orthodox bishop on his return to Syria and together were supposed to return to Aleppo, believing that they could travel on routes considered "safe", which on other occasions had allowed him to return to the Syrian city from the Turkish border. Shortly after confirming to some Greek-Orthodox priests living in Turkey their re-union in Syrian territory, the two bishops became untraceable.
While uncontrolled rumors continue to circulate and each time the imminent release of the two bishops kidnapped denied - the lastest news was released yesterday morning on several Arab sites - the identity of the kidnappers remains obscure.
In the area between Aleppo and the Turkish border, factions and heterogeneous groups move, often at war with each other. Meanwhile, from Jeddah, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned the kidnapping of the two bishops. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of Pan-Islamic body, has appealed for their, "immediate and unconditional" release, insisting that their seizure "contradicts the principles of authentic Islam, and the high status reserved to the Christian clergy in Islam." (GV) (Agenzia Fides 27/04/2013)