We write to you on All Saints Day to update you on the situation in Iraq. Remembering the Christians who were killed in 2009 while attending Mass at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad. That was the beginning of harder times to all Christians in Iraq.
It has been two years and four months since we left Nineveh Plain. It has been long time of displacement, of humiliation, of exile. However, people always lived in hope of God’s mercy to return and go back home. We believed that God will not fail us.
With Mosul making headlines around the world this week, there are a lot of people tuned in to things here right now.
That said, from our vantage point on the ground and on the front lines of this crisis, there are a few things you might be hearing that aren’t quite right, or don’t tell the whole story — and we want to provide some clarity. They aren’t totally wrong, per se, but they’re off, and we think you deserve to know the full story.
The battle for Mosul has begun.
This is big. Mosul is big. This offensive will be really, really big. Mosul is the most populous city under ISIS control. It's their capital in Iraq.
Pope Francis met with French President Francois Hollande at the Vatican just three weeks after an elderly priest was brutally murdered by Islamist militants in northern France.
The Vatican said the meeting on Wednesday was private and released no further details of what was discussed.
The U.S. State Department warned that religion-based terrorists as well as some governments across the globe are threatening the liberties of religious minorities.
“One of the best ways to deny these murderers their victory is by ensuring that those they have sought to destroy not only survive, but thrive,” said Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, announcing the 2015 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom on Aug. 10.
To outsiders, a massive rally of young Catholics waving flags and chanting “Francis” might seem like a strange spectacle far removed from today’s pressing concerns.
But in a world scarred by religiously-inspired violence and grappling with a global migrants crisis, the World Youth Day gathering in Poland that wrapped up on July 31 could be read as a powerful piece of counterprogramming.
France was convulsed by another horrific attack on July 26 as armed men burst into a Catholic Church near Rouen and slit the throat of a priest who was saying Mass.
The slain priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 84, was one of four people taken hostage by the attackers, who authorities said had claimed to be from Daesh, the Arabic term for the Islamic State group.
Nice, on France’s Mediterranean coast, now joins a long list of cities, on four continents, where Islamist terrorists have perpetrated gruesome attacks, mercilessly killing hundreds of innocents.
And those are just where some of the highest-profile outrages have occurred, the ones that attract headlines. The fact that millions of people, mostly other Muslims, survive under the daily brutality of violent Islamists in large parts of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Gaza, Nigeria, and elsewhere is so routine as to barely be newsworthy.
A strike by U.S. jets nearly 60civilians on July 19 after mistaking them for ISIS fighters, reports The Telegraph.
Before being killed, eight families were fleeing their village of Tokhar in order to escape fighting between ISIS and the U.S.-backed rebels known as the Syria Democratic Forces, according to the reports.
If a terrorist claiming he was inspired by his Christian faith killed worshipers at a church in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, would anyone suggest that he was a true Christian or represented the beliefs of other Christians worldwide? Of course not. Such a man would be denounced by Christians everywhere, along with whatever twisted organization he represented.
In a message marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, President Obama lamented the spate of vicious terror attacks around the world in recent weeks and warned against anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S.
“No one should ever feel afraid or unsafe in their place of worship,” Obama said in a message for the feast of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan’s monthlong observance of daytime fasting and abstinence.
"People who we know have been on ISIL websites, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines but because of the National Rifle Association I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun. This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer, and if he wants to walk into a gun store or gun show right now and buy as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing’s prohibiting him from doing that, even though the FBI knows who he is. So sir, I just have to say respectfully, that there is a way for us to have common sense gun laws."
What do the tango, Islam and conscientious objection have in common? They are just three of the references that Pope Francis made in his latest blockbuster interview.
Speaking to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, Francis reflected on issues affecting the church and society as a whole.
How to respond to such pain? With action. Seated with others, in an unfinished building we visited in Dahook, was a young Yazidi man who is studying in the university. He plans to reach out to about 5,000 children on the mountain with hopes of educating them. I shared the story of my friends, the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, and the fruits they are reaping from their literacy program with street children.
The Christian tradition calls its followers not to bear false witness. So how do we live out this calling? What does it mean not to bear false witness against Muslims in the age of ISIS? Here are three false assumptions, if not outright lies, often repeated about Muslims and terrorism, along with some facts that can help us have more honest conversations about our Muslim neighbors and about the violence we encounter in western nations.
Terrorists want to “terrorize” us. They want to make us angry and hostile. They want us to react and overreact to them. They want us to suspect, to racially and religiously profile, discriminate against, and attack all Muslims. Because that will help the terrorists recruit more young Muslims to their cause — and make it harder for other Muslims to work against them. They want to politicize everything and turn people’s attention away from the massive losses for human life that these evil terrorists represent.
We must deny them their victory. Here’s how.
I am this broken and bleeding world.
I am Brussels, blown apart, the strewn limbs, the piercing wail of a mother for her baby.
I am Yemen, at the marketplace, charred bodies of children face-down in the dust.
I am Syria, families cramming into boats as guns and missiles chase them from the shore.
I am Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, pockmarked by bomb blasts, orphaned children hiding away from clear blue skies.
I am the growling of empty bellies drowned by the sound of gold pouring into the bottomless coffers of the war machines as they devour their sustenance and spit out death in return.
I am generation upon generation of silenced and vanished victim buried in the ground and trampled.
I am slain from the foundation of the world.
I arrange my Mondays around a certain ritual, a yoga class taught by my gifted teacher, Mireille (Mimi) Mears. She’s from Belgium. From Charleroi, to be exact. It's about 30 miles away from Brussels. Her nephew lives a few minutes away from the attack site with his wife and three children under the age of 6. Mimi always closes our class with a ritual, this prayer/meditation/homily (with her beautiful Belgian accent) and yesterday was no exception.
The actions of the shooters like those in San Bernardino, Paris, and very probably Brussels are difficult for most people to understand. But the work of scholars specializing in extremism can help us begin to unravel how people become radicalized to embrace political violence.
Security experts Alex Wilner and Claire-Jehanne Dubouloz define radicalization as a process during which an individual or group adopts increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations. The process involves rejecting or undermining the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.
Newly radicalized people don’t just agree with the mission and the message of the group they are joining — they embrace the idea of using violence to induce change.
Sophie Kasiki, one of the few Western women to have seen the Islamic State group’s harsh “caliphate” in Syria and escaped, recounts her life in the jihadists’ stronghold Raqqa with detached calm and inner rage. Born to a Catholic family in Cameroon and living in Paris since the age of 9, she converted to Islam as an adult. She traveled with her 4-year-old son to Syria in February 2015, to join three friends who had left for jihad a few months before.