ASIA/IRAQ – The Syrian Monastery of Mar Behnam in the hands of the militia of the "Islamic Caliphate"

Monday, 21 July 2014

Qaraqosh (Agenzia Fides) - On Sunday afternoon, July 20 the jihadist militiamen of the self-proclaimed "Islamic Caliphate" took possession of the ancient monastery of Mar Behnam, ten minutes from the city of Qaraqosh, until yesterday officiated by Syrian Catholic monks. The Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Moshe, confirmed to Fides Agency that yesterday the emissaries of the Caliphate "imposed on the three monks and a few families living in the monastery to go away and leave the keys". There is no other confirmed news on what is happening in the monastery, although many fear a repeat of vandalism and desecration already registered in other Christian places of worship which ended up in the hands of the jihadists. Meanwhile, in the city of Qaraqosh, only a few kilometers from Mar Behnam - the yield of the Monastery by Islamist militants has already increased the alarm status of the population, mostly Christian.
"The international community", said the Syrian Catholic priest Nizar Semaan, collaborator of Archbishop Moshe "recorded a disturbing passivity due to what is happening in that area. One should come out of the vague statements, and put in place concrete measures at a humanitarian and political level. For example, the time has come to include these groups in the list of terrorist organizations condemned by international bodies, and above all it is necessary to make public the names of the Countries and forces that finance them. Intelligence agencies and the governments of various Countries certainly know where certain weapons and money that keep these groups going come from. It would be enough to stop the flow for a month, and these groups would not have any more force".
In addition, according to Fr. Semaan it is necessary to involve leaders and followers of Sunni Islam in an effort to isolate the jihadist groups: "a pronouncement of sentence against these groups by the Islamic authorities, spread through the network of mosques, would certainly have a significant effect", highlights the Syrian Catholic priest.
The Monastery dedicated to the Assyrian martyr prince Behnam and his sister Sarah, is one of the oldest places of worship of the Syrian Christianity. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 21/07/2014)