Pope Condemns Murder of Egyptian Diplomat

Envoy in Iraq Victim of al-Qaida

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI called the murder of Egypt’s ambassador to Iraq “atrocious,” and sent his condolences to the envoy’s homeland.

“Informed of the cruel crime, the Holy Father wishes to express to Mr. Hosni Mubarak, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, his government, and all the noble Egyptian people, who cherish peace, his profound sorrow and prayers, and requests that these sentiments be transmitted also to ambassador el-Sherif’s family,” said a message sent on the Pope’s behalf by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state.

The message, sent to Nevine Simaika Halim Abdalla, Cairo’s ambassador to the Holy See, called the murder “atrocious.”

Ihab el-Sherif, 51, the first ambassador of an Arab country to be sent to Baghdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein, was kidnapped by gunmen in the Iraqi capital last Saturday, when he went out to buy a newspaper.

On Wednesday, al-Qaida published photographs of the Egyptian diplomat’s documents and said that its Shariah — Islamic law — court sentenced him for apostasy.

Considered sacred

Cardinal Sodano in the Vatican message stated: “In the history of humanity, the person of an ambassador has always been considered sacred, inasmuch as he is the official representative of his people and, in virtue of his office, is always committed to a mission of peace, harmony and fraternity among peoples.”

“This terrible murder takes place in a worldwide context of persistent terrorism, contrary to all sentiments of humanity and religion,” the letter said.

It added: “But it will never be able to diminish the international community’s commitment against violence and the common effort to seek and eliminate its political, social and cultural causes.”

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