We know well by now that ISIS’s bloodlust would not stop with the martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Libya. Now, it has been reported that ISIS has abducted at least 150 more Assyrian Christians from northeastern Syria. You might have seen it reported as only 90 of them earlier, but that number has since been revised. For the record, these Assyrians are not from the same church as the Coptic Orthodox church that the martyrs from several days ago were. They are probably all from the Assyrian Church of the East, which is different from the Eastern Orthodox–who are themselves different from the Copts. At any rate, here’s the report from Reuters:
A Syrian Christian group representing several NGO’s inside and outside the country said it had verified at least 150 people missing, including women and elderly, who had been kidnapped by the militants.
“We have verified at least 150 people who have been adducted from sources on the ground,” Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, whose family itself is from Hasaka, told Reuters from Amman.
Earlier the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 90 were abducted when the militants carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.
The Christian communities victimized by ISIS are very ancient ones. They are descendents of some of the first people evangelized by the Apostles (Sts. Thomas, Bartholomew, Thaddeus, and Peter). Now, they are being persecuted in horrific ways by the Islamic State, and this latest mass abduction but the latest regrettable episode of it. Let us hope and pray that they do not meet the same fate as the 21 Copts.
Not far from where these abductions happened, ISIS is engaging in another favorite tactic of radical Islam: book burning. They’ve been raiding and burning libraries in Mosul for a while now, but this past weekend, they bombed the Mosul Public Library, destroying 8000 rare books in the process. Per a report from The Fiscal Times via Yahoo! Finance:
The former assistant director of the library Qusai All Faraj said that the Mosul Public Library was established in 1921, the same year that saw the birth of the modern Iraq. Among its lost collections were manuscripts from the eighteenth century, Syriac books printed in Iraq’s first printing house in the nineteenth century, books from the Ottoman era, Iraqi newspapers from the early twentieth century and some old antiques like an astrolabe and sand glass used by ancient Arabs. The library had hosted the personal libraries of more than 100 notable families from Mosul over the last century.
As a collector of antiquarian books and a historian, this is particularly saddening to me, but I’m sure my fellow bibliophiles everywhere share in my sorrow. As tragic as this event was, it was not the only thing they destroyed in Mosul that day. The article continues:
On the same day the library was destroyed, ISIS abolished another old church in Mosul: the church of Mary the Virgin. The Mosul University Theater was burned as well, according to eyewitnesses. In al-Anbar province, Western Iraq, the ISIS campaign of burning books has managed to destroy 100,000 titles, according to local officials.
The fact that all of the acts mentioned in this post no longer shock us should be maddening in and of itself. These horrifying acts have become so routine that one runs the risk of being desensitized to them, but we cannot indulge that temptation. We cannot let the status quo in Washington continue. The situation cries out for a legitimate response from Washington, and that doesn’t include an AUMF that won’t allow ground troops or laying out our strategy for attacking ISIS around Mosul for the entire world to see. Governor Jindal’s got a clear idea for what we need to do. I haven’t made a final decision as to who my guy in the Republican primaries will be, but a piece like that is a huge mark in his favor.
At any rate, right now, we need to make sure Congress knows that the President’s AUMF as it is currently written is unacceptable. There’s reason for hope that they understand this, but we must temper that with the fact that our Congressional Republican leadership is much more prone to flight that fight.
One final note, my featured image is an icon by Egyptian artist Tony Rezk depicting the Coptic martyrs being granted crowns of martyrdom by Jesus Christ. Implied here is the fact that, because they confessed their faith even unto death, they have been taken directly up into Heaven. An icon like this is meant to inspire other Christians to follow their example, should the occasion arise. It’s actually been chosen as the official icon for their entry in the Coptic Synaxarium.
— Tony Rezk (@TonyRezk) February 22, 2015
Pray for peace, folks. Lord have mercy!