ICC Note: The Arab Christian world is growing more and more weary of the kidnapping of their clergymen and civilians in the Middle East, specifically Syria and Iraq. Pope Francis has referred to the terror as a form of genocide and a “third world war” in the Arab world today. He has likewise desperately called for the kidnappings and killings to end. Christians have lived in the Middle East for centuries and are considered by most to be full citizens of the region with individual rights.
07-17-2015 Syria (National Catholic Reporter): Arab Christians are viewing with growing concern and revulsion an uptick in kidnappings of both their clergy and civilians as violence worsens in Syria and Iraq.
In mid-July, another Catholic clergyman went missing in Syria, making him possibly the eighth clerical victim of apparent abduction in the war-ravaged country.
Melkite Fr. Tony Boutros, 50, and his Muslim driver were first reported missing by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based watchdog, which tracks the conflict using sources on the ground, said the priest serving in the southern city of Shahba was believed to have been kidnapped by unknown assailants after celebrating Mass July 12.
The news followed the release of Fr. Dhiya Aziz, an Iraqi Franciscan serving in northwest Syria, who was abducted July 4 and freed five days later. Aziz was serving as a parish priest at Yacubieh, a village in Syria’s Idlib province.
Pope Francis demanded July 9 an immediate end to “a form of genocide” of Christians taking place in the Middle East and beyond, describing it as a “third world war.”
“Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus,” Pope Francis said.
“In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end,” the pontiff said.