'Exponential Increase' in Kidnappings of Christians Occurring in Syria

Christian Pharmacist Abducted and Held For Ransom Last Sunday

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Christians in the province of Jazira, located in Mesopotamia, Syria are protesting the exponential increase in kidnappings in the region. The abductions have occurred even in areas that are not affected by the fighting between rebels and government troops.

According to Fides News Agency, the latest person to be kidnapped was a Christian pharmacist last Sunday. The kidnappers are holding him for a ransom of a million Syrian pounds, or the 11,000 euros.

«For the bandits of all this is a good time to make money,» said Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy of Hassaké-Nisibis.

On Friday, dozens of Christians improvised a roadblock burning tires at an intersection in the city of Hassaké to protest against the kidnapping of the rector of the State University of Al-Furat.  Jack Mardini, also a Christian, was kidnapped in broad daylight by gunmen and released after two hours. The abductors did not ask for ransom, rather it was an act related to functioning of the University. A warning that now one resorts to criminal practice of kidnapping to resolve conflicts with the abuse of personal and social interest.

In the city of Hassaké, there were fifty kidnappings in recent. Almost half of the abductions were against Christians. «Many of them are doctors, lawyers and professionals but now the poor are beginning to be kidnapped,» Archbishop Hindo told Fides.

Nevertheless, the Syrian Catholic Archbishop denies that the practice of kidnapping has Christians as a privileged target. «In recent days some kidnapped Muslims tried to draw the kidnappers to a sense of pity, by talking about the pilgrimage made to Mecca,» the archbishop explained.»

«The bandits, in response, began to blaspheme the name of Allah and cursing the Prophet Mohammad, saying that their only interest is money,» Archbishop Hindo said. 

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