A Syrian priest, who was hooked by terror group Islamic State, says he was threatened to convert to Islam or otherwise will be beheaded.
A Syriac priest, Rev Jacques Mourad who escaped from the clutches of ISIS after being detained for months, he says his life was spared merely because of the interfaith work he had done. Reverend Jacques Mourad was kidnapped by the Islamic State militants from the Mar Moussa monastery. At first, he says that he was sure of death at the hands of the Islamic State jihadists but in its place, he was held captive in Raqqa- Islamic State’s capital in Syria.
Syriac priest told the members of Rome’s Foreign Press Association: “During these 84 days that I was a prisoner in this bathroom in Raqqa, it could be said that it was one of the most difficult experiences that a person can go through; that of losing one’s liberty. For me it was also a very intense experience, from the spiritual point of view.”
While recalling about the threats which were hurled at him, he said that those were very dark moments when danger of execution loomed large over his head. “It was very difficult above all when they said, ‘Become Muslim or we’ll cut your head off,'” he said.
However, according to his belief, all the interfaith work that he had done at his monastery saved his life. “I’m convinced I’m alive also thanks to this mission, the work we did contributed to preventing Islamic State from killing me,” he said.
While still recalling about his ordeal, he told that he was later on moved to another location in August where about 250 Christian captives were held already. These 250 Christians were from his own parish in Al-Qaryatayn. “I saw a young boy from my parish; it was a very touching moment. As soon as I turned I suddenly saw all the 250 kidnapped Christians- the children, old people, disabled, women- it was a very hard moment for me.”
After a ransom was paid by their families, they were allowed to return to their homes in September. However, seeing that situation had become unbearable for him, so he decided to attempt to escape from the detention. “Life had become unsustainable. We had nothing, we didn’t have electricity, there was no food, water it was difficult because it was also very dangerous. At the same time I felt a responsibility towards the Christians,” he said.
Nonetheless, he urges the West to harbour refugees from Syria. “We are responsible for the whole Syrian population, not only Christians,” he said while adding, “Europeans must accept their responsibility towards Syrians, towards so many Syrians who flee in search of a better life and die in the sea.”