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Another Priest Feared Kidnapped

November 22, 2006

Leaders in Iraq\'s Chaldean Church are requesting prayer for Fr
Doglas Yousef Al Bazy (34) who they fear has been kidnapped.
Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, Louis Sako, told Compass Direct that
he has not been seen or heard from since Sunday 19 November when he
drove from St Elijah Church in Baghdad\'s Naariya district, after
morning mass. According to Zenit News Agency, Fr Al Bazy survived
an attack on his parish in January and was wounded by a bullet in
February when militants fired at the church. Fr Al Bazy, who is
known for his youth ministry is also the director of the Catechesis
Institute of Babel College, and secretary of both the Institute for
Religious Teaching and the council of church leaders in Baghdad. He
may prove to be the fifth priest kidnapped in the past five months.

Iraqi Christians describe their situation as \'unbearable\'. Most are
unable to leave their homes. Islamic militants and Muslim criminals
force Christians to pay protection money - jizya - a \'sacred\' form
of extortion where the non-Muslim is given the choice to convert to
Islam, pay or die (based on the Qur\'an Sura 9:29). Historically
such \'tax\' has been handled by the Islamic administration. Amidst
lawlessness, however, Muslim thugs exploit insecurity and extort
with impunity. Recently a priest with the ancient and indigenous
Assyrian Church of the East was forced to flee from his parish of
St Mary Church in Mosul to the Kurdish region because he could not
keep paying \'donations\' to Islamic militants. On 1 November a bomb
blew out the double doors of the Dominican Church in Mosul while
priests were engaged in evening prayer. Fortunately nobody was
injured. It is evident that Christian leaders are being
systematically targeted as part of a strategy to drive the
Christian community from Iraq.

Iraq\'s Holocaust, the \'Farhud\' (violent dispossession), began on 1
June 1941 < http://www.farhud.org >. In 1949 there were an estimated
130,000 Jews still in Iraq, half of whom lived in Baghdad and were
mostly elite professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders in academia,
commerce, banking and transportation. By then however they were
fleeing the Farhud at a rate of 1,000 a month. But Iraq\'s Jews were
not abandoned. Through the clandestine Operation Ezra and Nehemiah
(1950-51), Mossad airlifted some 115,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel where
they were absorbed as refugees.

\'Abel es-sabbat jibel-ahad\' (after Saturday comes Sunday) is a
popular Islamic chant. It means \'after we have dealt with the
Saturday people (Jews) we will deal with the Sunday people
(Christians)\'.

For decades after the Farhud, military coups and a brutally applied
secular, socialist, pan-Arab Ba\'athism repressed Islamism. But that
is not the case today and ChaldoAssyrians (Christians) and Sabean
Mandaeans are in desperate need. The US Commission on International
Religious Freedom is calling on the US government \'to create new or
expand existing options for allowing members of Iraq\'s
ChaldoAssyrian and Sabean Mandaean religious minority communities
to access the US refugee program . . . without delay\'. WEA
Religious Liberty Commission would extend this call to all the
allied Western nations. Saturday has past and Sunday has begun.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:

* God, by his ever present Holy Spirit, to sustain and encourage
Fr Al Bazy, who has disappeared (but not from God\'s sight! Psalm
139); may he be returned to his people.

* God to guide, protect and keep Iraq\'s Christians; may they grow
in prayerfulness, spiritual wisdom, Christian unity and grace to
emerge a stronger more glorious church - refined, not consumed.

* our faithful, unchanging God to deliver his people from brutal
dhimmitude, violent persecution and untimely, tragic death.

\'You have led in your steadfast love [\'hesed\'] the people whom you
have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy
abode.\' (Song of Moses, which he sang after God delivered the
Israelites from the Egyptians; Exodus 15, ESV)

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE:
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ANOTHER PRIEST FEARED KIDNAPPED IN IRAQ

Iraq\'s Chaldean Church has called for prayer for Fr Doglas Yousef
Al Bazy (34) who has not been seen or heard from since he left St
Elijah Church after morning mass on Sunday 19 November. Fr Al Bazy
is known for his youth ministry and is a key leader in the Chaldean
Church in Baghdad. The Church is most concerned that, like four
other priests in recent months, he may have been kidnapped, either
by Muslim criminals intent on \'jizya\' extortion or by Islamic
militants intent on terrorising the Christian community out of
Iraq. The situation for Iraqi Christians is critical and the
immediate future of Christianity in Iraq looks bleak. Iraqi
Christians urgently need access to refugee programs in the West.
Please pray for their safety and their deliverance, and for the
safe return of Fr Al Bazy.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.