As news worsens for religious minorities, bishops set sights on UN.
Italian news services report that the Al-Qaeda inspired militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has kidnapped 20 students and a Sufi Muslim leader in Mosul, Iraq.
The students were studying the Koran when the attack was carried out on their mosque. Families of the kidnapped young people have pleaded with the Sunni leadership of ISIS in Mosul to release them. ISIS has reportedly stepped up arrests and kidnappings of local Sufi Muslims in the region.
Tensions between Sunnis and Shi’ites meanwhile, are increasingly at the forefront of the violence in Iraq, threatening to fragment the country even further. Police and medical sources say in and around Baghdad 15 people, including an entire Shi’ite family, were found shot or beheaded.
Security forces retrieved the bodies of six men who had been handcuffed and shot in the head and chest in Taji while in eastern Baghdad, security forces found the corpses of four men who had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot execution-style.
The Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church meanwhile, has told the Catholic news site Terrasanta.net that he and the other Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches are organizing a meeting to discuss what actions they can take in unison to denounce the expulsion of Mosul’s Christians by ISIS militants. The patriarch hopes to send a delegation of Eastern-rite Christian leaders to the United Nations to present the situation of Christians in Iraq and demand international action to stop the ongoing interreligious violence.
ISIS has proclaimed a Muslim caliphate extending from Iraq to Syria, and has demanded all Christians convert to Islam or pay a heavy tax or leave the country. Many Christians have been robbed as they flee and their homes confiscated.