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Syrian Orthodox leader laments silence of Muslim leaders in wake of Mosul

Catholic World News - July 25, 2014

Speaking at his residence in Lebanon, the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church decried recent events in Mosul following its takeover by the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Syria (ISIS).

The church is among the Oriental Orthodox churches that ceased to be in full communion with the Holy See following the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451.

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II decried the “barbarian and unprecedented acts in the history of the Christian-Muslim relations in this region,” according to a report from the Assyrian International News Agency.

The jihadist group, he said, “systematically forced Christians and some Muslims out of the city of Mosul, labeling them with racist signs and symbols, humiliating and looting them. Therefore, we strongly condemn these acts, and assert that this type of actions and this practice of Islam do not represent the Islam we have lived with for more than 13 centuries.”

“We call upon our Muslim fellows and their leadership to take a clear stance against these actions and this phenomenon that contradicts the Quranic text,” he continued. “At the same time, we are astonished by the silence of most Muslim religious leaders and civil dignitaries regarding what has been happening in Mosul.”

The patriarch added:

The forced displacement of our people, the taking over of our churches, the destruction of our sacred shrines, and the stealing of the properties and the future of our people will not prevent us from fulfilling our mission in this dear Levant. This injustice, which is against the heavenly and human laws, will not compel us to ask for Western protection or help. It is not out of fear or weakness, but because we believe that we are the salt of this land and the witnesses of the Resurrection till eternity … Solidarity statements are not enough, they should stand against and stop supporting those who supply weapons and finance ISIS and similar organizations.

We insist that what has been inflicted on our people in Mosul is a war crime. Forced displacements on the basis of religious belief, be it Islam or Christianity, is a crime against humanity and requires punishment.

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