Destruction of many ancient tombs, including the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah, who is said to have slept undisturbed outside Nineveh until now —- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDP5PgKZiME
Iraqi Bishops appeal to the Prime Minister and the government: “stop the catastrophe”
Erbil (Agenzia Fides) – The Iraqi national government must ensure “necessary protection” for Christians and other minorities in the Country, provide “financial support to displaced people who have lost everything”, pay the wages of state employees “immediately”, compensate those who have suffered material losses and ensure continuity in the provision of housing and social services and education for families who may have to spend a long time away from their homes. This is the urgent appeal that Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and all the Chaldean, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic and Armenian Bishops in northern Iraq launched at the end of their meeting on Tuesday 22 July held in Ankawa (suburb of Erbil) and dedicated to the serious events recorded in the region in recent weeks, starting with the expulsion of Christians and Shiites from the city of Mosul decreed by the militiamen of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate.
The appeal, sent to Fides Agency, is addressed primarily to the Prime Minister and the national government, with an implicit admission of their inaction. At the same time, the Iraqi Bishops invite “people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to put pressure on militants to put a stop to “the destruction of churches and monasteries, manuscripts, relics and all the Christian heritage, priceless Iraqi and international heritage. What was said with regards to an agreement between the militants and the clergy is false”, continues the appeal, reiterating that “a crime is a crime, and it cannot be denied or justified. We expect concrete actions to assure our people, not just press releases of denunciation and condemnation”.
In this respect, the Bishops express an eloquent appreciation for the role played by the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, appreciating its readiness to “accommodate the displaced families, to embrace them and to help them. We – add the Leaders of Churches in northern Iraq – propose the creation of a joint committee between the regional government and the representatives of our people in order to fulfill the suffering of refugee families and improve their conditions. ” The appeal ends with a supplication to the Almighty God so that catastrophe is stopped and “security, peace and stability is re-established throughout Iraq. (GV) Agenzia Fides 23/07/2014)
Also, ISIS is shutting off the water to the mostly Christian city of Qaraqosh (50,000 people) and closing pipes from the Tigris river to Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain. People must now pay $10 every other day to obtain water, in a region where most people have lost their jobs. AINA reports:
Outside one of the town’s 12 churches, people queue from 6 a.m. until midnight to get their daily rations from a well. Flatbed trucks are joined by children with pushcarts and riders on bicycles bearing empty jugs. “Our lives revolve around water,” says Laith, 28, a school teacher who returned with his family a day earlier from a suburb of Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital, 45 miles away, to which thousands of threatened Christians have migrated. Though aid agencies have erected several water depots around town, supplies are limited, barely enough to sustain large families in the 100-degree-plus heat. Plans to dig new wells will take at least several months to fulfill. The jihadist army is a mile away, kept back by the Kurds’ Pershmaga forces.
While Maliki dithers in Baghdad and national unity fractures further, the caliphate destroys everything from Assyrian statues 3000 years old to the tomb of the prophet Jonah to crosses and statues of the Virgin Mary, and has ended 2,000 years of Christian worship in Mosul. Mosul’s first Christians were converted by the apostles. Now there is neither a Eucharist or a single Christian soul in a city that with a recorded history going back to 401 BC and which is the successor to ancient Nineveh, whose downfall Jonah had foretold. What does Jonah think now, looking down from Heaven?
And echoing my comments from yesterday on Facebook, as to where are the voices of “moderate Muslims”, Maronite Patriarch and Cardinal asks this same question: “We hear no one cry out”
“This is why we are making this urgent and fraternal appeal, full of gravity. We plead with our Iraqi brothers who support them, to revise their strategy, to respect the innocent and isolated civilians, whatever their nationality, religion and community particularities.”
“The Qur’an recommends that the innocent be respected, and does not call for the confiscation of the property of others. It spares widows, orphans and the needy and says to be friendly to neighbours.”
“Meanwhile, we urge Christians in the region to exercise judgment, to measure properly their actions and understand what is planned for the region, to show solidarity with one another in love, review and retain what is likely to build trust among themselves and with their neighbours, to become one with their churches, to exercise patience and endurance and pray that the trial does not continue.” I sure hope that these trials do NOT continue much longer!
Seal of Hamas, laying claim to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
Meanwhile, criticism of Israel increases as the Arab death toll rises. But Israel has to stop these rockets somehow – a country cannot live under daily barrages. But not only does Hamas continue to put rocket launchers into neighborhoods and store military supplies in mosques and schools, it even pressures residents to show their patriotism by NOT leaving their homes when Israel warns them to get out! TIME reports video of a Hamas leader actually saying: ““We, Hamas, call on our people to adopt this practice” of “sacrificing themselves to defend their homes.” How does one even begin to deal with such people??
Lord of heaven and earth, may the hearts of all leaders listen to the whisper of Your voice and the power of Your commands, and work for peace and not more death and ruin. May the tears of Arab children move Hamas and Fatah alike to act.