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Maalula, Land of Martyrs: Death in Odium Fidei of the Young Sarkis

Thomas Stellmach

Agenzia Fides - published on 09/13/13

Maalula, a Christian village in the north of Damascus, is already a "land of martyrs" following recent attacks by armed Islamist groups forcing conversions to Islam.

For Syrian Christians, Maalula, the Christian village in the north of Damascus, attacked in recent days by armed Islamist groups, is already a "land of martyrs."

Thanks to an eyewitness, a Christian woman named A. (anonymous for security reasons), currently in hospital in Damascus, has reconstructed in detail the fate of three Christians killed in Maalula.

Their funerals were celebrated on September 10 in Damascus, in the Greek-Catholic cathedral, in a celebration presided over by Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham, in the presence of the bishops of other confessions.

According to what the woman told Fides, the armed groups entered many homes of civilians on September 7, destroying and terrorizing people, damaging all the sacred images. In one house there were three Greek Catholic men Mikhael Taalab, his cousin Antoun Taalab, Sarkis el Zakhm, Mikhael’s grandson, and the woman A., their relative.

The Islamists warned everyone present to convert to Islam. Sarkis answered clearly, "I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it." The young man together with the other two were killed cold bloodedly. The woman was injured and was saved by a miracle, later taken to a hospital in Damascus.

"What Sarkis did is true martyrdom, a death in odium fidei," said Sister Carmel to Fides, among the Christians of Damascus who assist the displaced in Maalula. Those present at the funeral were very moved. "Today's displaced in Maalula," mostly in Damascus, emphasizes the nun, "ask to be able to return to their homes, in peace and security."

Originally published by Agenzia Fides on 12 September 2013.

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