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Kidnappers Demand 300,000 Euros for Assyrian Priest

ICC Note

“I have never known such a hard working person before, he is very religious and kind. He helps everyone in the village, loves both Muslims and Christians. We turn to him when we need help. He is very handy too.”

November 28, 2007 Turkey (AINA)-One of the monks of a monastery in south-east Turkey was occupied with his daily choirs as he received a phone call from Daniel, another monk. Responding to the call he soon found out it was not Daniel’s voice but someone else’s. The voice said in Turkish:

“We have kidnapped the monk and we demand 300,000 Euros for his release.”

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I have myself spent the entire afternoon and evening trying to understand what has happened to my friend Daniel. His relatives in Sweden are in shock. Every member of the Syriac Orthodox Church who has heard about it is also in shock.

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They found his empty pickup at two a clock. The villager I spoke to said, “I have never known such a hard working person before, he is very religious and kind. He helps everyone in the village, loves both Muslims and Christians. We turn to him when we need help. He is very handy too.”

Twelve children, between six and seventeen years old, live in the monastery of Mor Yakup. They are poor children from other parts of Tur Abdin, which means the mountain of the servants of God in Assyrian. It got the name because it once had the world’s biggest number of churches and monasteries. The children attend either the village school or the school in the town of Midyat , where I was born.

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The channel Euro D interviewed the mayor of Midyat, Seyhmus Nasiroglu, both he and the reporter associated the kidnapping with cases of murder of priests in other places in Turkey . They also mentioned the Danish Mohamed caricatures. I could not listen to everything as I was interrupted by a phone call from another friend in Saleh. He was sad, disappointed but told me both the Turkish military and the police are looking for father Daniel. Another channel displayed his picture. I switched of the TV so I could concentrate of the phone call.

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When will the violence against us end? We have been driven from what is the land of our forefathers since six thousand years ago. We are slaughtered in Iraq , we suffer in Syria and Jordan — and I must always try to think rationally and objectively.

Father Daniel used to say he is proud of me. Thinking about that right now feels weird. The last time I met him he was busy building new rooms for the children, which he loves as if they were his own. May God protect him and let him be back soon to the monastery where people are weeping for him.

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