Islamic Tolerance Alert. “Two Chaldean Priests Kidnapped in Baghdad,” (the second has since been released) from Compass Direct:
August 17 (Compass Direct News) – Iraqi church leaders issued appeals today for the release of a Chaldean Catholic priest kidnapped in southeast Baghdad yesterday morning.
In an e-mailed statement, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako called for the release of Father Saad Sirop of St. Jacob parish in Baghdad’s Doura district.
The appeal quoted Sura 5 of the Quran, asking that Muslims protect priests and monks. Sako also noted that Sirop was a good man who had preached and practiced love and peace.
Priests and monks are mentioned specifically in Sura 5, verse 82:
Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews and those who are polytheists, and you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe (to be) those who say: We are
Christians; this is because there are priests and monks among them and because they do not behave proudly.
The article continues:
“I think that there are two reasons these kidnappings are taking place,” Sako told Compass over the telephone. “The first reason is money. But the second reason is that they want to push Christians out of Iraq.”
The archbishop said that Doura was a majority Sunni Muslim area with a significant minority of 3,000 Christians. He said that Sunnis moving into the area from other parts of Iraq wanted to take possession of the Christians” homes.
“Sirop was on his way home from celebrating mass at St. Jacob church at about 6:30 a.m. when his car was stopped by three armed men with masks,” Sako told Compass. “They forced him into their car but left his driver alone.”
The clergyman’s kidnapping was also reported today on Iraqi news websites “Buratha News” and “Aswat Al-Iraq.” According to the latter, the Iraqi Islamic Party has demanded that Sirop’s kidnappers free him.
Chaldean Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni, traveling outside of the country, also issued an appeal for the priest’s release. He directly addressed Sirop’s captors, saying that kidnapping a clergyman who had faithfully served his country did not help their cause.