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Syrian priest kidnapped by ISIS: The rosary kept me going for my 84 days as prisoner

2015-12-19

What happened to this man is unusual. And that he is alive and free is almost a miracle. The Syrian priest Jacques Mourad visited Rome to share his story of being kidnapped by the Islamic State.

FR. JACQUES MOURAD
Syrian-Catholic Priest
"September 1st was our quote, 'Liberation.' That day, the head of the Islamic State sent five or six people from Iraq to get Christians from  Qaryatyn to sign an agreement with the Islamic State.”

The condition was that they never left their city, Qaryatayn. Together with the priest, 25 other Christians were released. However, they had to escape the area anyway, as it was terrorized by violence from the Islamic State, and constant bombing. Father Mourad explained that the city simply didn't have food. He strongly denounced the world's indifference toward refugees.

FR. JACQUES MOURAD
Syrian-Catholic Priest
"Europe, the West, does not see its responsibility to the hordes people fleeing war, bombings, and massacres. They are thrown into the sea and die there because they are fleeing death and war in Syria. This cannot be. It is illegal. How can these countries accept that people die in this way without doing anything?”

Mourad was taken from his monastery on May 21st by members of the Islamic State. They transferred him to Raqqa, the capital of the caliphate. He said that two things kept him going.

FR. JACQUES MOURAD
Syrian-Catholic Priest
"There are two things that helped me during my captivity. First, praying the rosary. Mary, Our Lady, was always present and she helped keep me going from the first moment. Every time I prayed the rosary, I felt an extraordinary peace in my heart. I cannot explain it. FLASH The second thing that helped me was the prayer of  Charles de Foucauld, who was a victim of violence but decided to devote his life in a monastery to dialogue with Islam.”

Thanks to that strength, he was able to resist a constant threat he received during his 84 days of captivity: Convert to Islam or be decapitated.

Despite all this, he said that he continued to believe that all people are children of God and that God does no wrong. With that same hope, he said he believes peace will someday come to Syria.


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