Report: Muslim Professor Killed for Decrying ISIS Persecution of Christians

During the Tahrir Square uprising in Cairo, part of the the Arab Spring in 2011, archaeologists and scholars fretted about the fate of Egypt's ancient monuments and the artifacts housed in the Cairo Museum, worrying the treasures from Egypt's pagan past would be lost in the midst of the political turmoil.

Of less interest to many was the wanton persecution and slaughter of Coptic Christians--who have existed in Egypt since the 4th Century--during and after the upheaval, and the destruction of historic Christian churches, monasteries and other holy sites. Christianity was the dominant religion in Egypt until the the 10th century, continuing to be the majority faith for 200 years after Islam was founded in 7th Century Arabia.

It seemed that living people and a living faith were less precious to some than relics of a culture from millennia ago.

Now, in the midst of wars among Muslim sects in Syria, Egypt, and other areas, indigenous Christian populations are being tortured, killed, and displaced, and Westerners who fight for "indigenous" peoples elsewhere seem oblivious or unconcerned.

But, there are signs that even some Muslims are finally realizing that, religious differences aside, they are destroying their own countrymen and common heritage.

When the Islamist militants of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) swept into the Iraqi city of Mosul--which encompasses parts of the ancient city of Nineveh, and is believed by many to be the burial site of the Biblical Jonah--churches and monasteries have been attacked and ransacked, and Christians have been murdered, raped, or forced out with threats of oppression, financial ruin from taxes, forced conversion, and death.

For the first time in 1,600 years, Sundays pass without Mass being said in Mosul, and the silent indifference of Western elites--who style themselves as defenders of minorities and "diversity"--is deafening.

According to the Chaldean Christian Website Ankawa.com, law Professor Mahmoud Al 'Asali of the University of Mosul spoke out against the brutal treatment of the city's Christians and was slain by ISIS militants on July 20.

Said Ankwawa: "Dr. Al-Asali [sic] was assassinated because he objected to what these militants [have] done of looting and burning the properties and possessions of Christian people in Mosul."

According to an article in La Stampa's Vatican Insider blog:

Amidst the ocean of tragedies currently being witnessed in the Middle Eastern country, the Website did not want to let this act of great courage go unnoticed. Professor Al 'Asali knew what he was risking; everyone in Mosul knows that in Raqqa--the Syrian city which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized last year--there are many human rights activists who have paid for their opposition to ISIS' acts of intolerance with their own lives. But Al 'Asali was nevertheless unable to stand by in silence.

There have also been reports from other areas of Muslims standing up for their Christian neighbors, including this piece from the English version of Al Arabiya News that purported to show about 200 people, including Muslims, gathered in front of a Catholic church in Baghdad on July 20, carrying signs.

Speaking to Al Arabiya, Father Maysar Bahnam of Mar Korkis Catholic Church said, "What gives us hope is a group of citizens--I do not want to say Muslims but they were Muslims--from Baghdad carrying slogans saying, 'I am Iraqi, I am Christian.'"

The same article also said, "Addressing both Muslim congregates and the approximately 150 Christian worshipers after Sunday Mass, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, started his speech saying, 'I am Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, Mandean, Yazidi, and I am an Iraqi,' in reference to the country's diversity."

Other grassroots protests have sprung up, including a Facebook and Twitter meme (#WeAreN) featuring an Arabic letter used by ISIS militants to identify who is a "Nazarene," or Christian. According to reports, it's been painted on the sides of buildings and homes to mark them as being associated with Christians.

Support is also coming from other quarters. According to report at the Christian news service Aleteia, about 100 people assembled behind the French National Assembly in Paris to support Iraqi Christians. Each protester carried a placard with the same Arabic letter, and rally leaders urged French legislators to take action.

In addition, Paris, which has a significant Muslim population, has seen attacks on Jewish sites in the country by pro-Palestinian protesters, including one on Sunday, July 20 in a Jewish neighborhood in the suburb of Sarcelles, north of Paris.

Also on July 20, thirtysomething Father Vianney Jamin of the Diocese of Versailles created a Facebook event calling for a day of prayer and fasting for Iraqi Christians on July 25. As of the writing of this post, he has about 5,700 people who have registered as participants.

The descriptions says: "We've been hearing every day of the particularly violent persecutions that Iraqi Christians are going through. This sheds a light on the fact that being Christian means, sooner or later, taking part in the Cross of Christ. Persecuted Christians live this in their flesh. Let us join with them by praying and fasting this Friday the 25th of July."


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