13-October-2006 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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ORTHODOX PRIEST BEHEADED IN IRAQ

Oct. 13 (CWNews.com) - A Syrian Orthodox priest was beheaded in Iraq on October 11, in the latest reminder of the dangers faced by the Christian minority there.

Father Boulos Iskander had been kidnapped in Mosul, and his relatives received a demand for $350,000 in ransom. The kidnappers later said that they would reduce the ransom to $40,000 if the Syrian Orthodox church in Mosul would issue a public rebuke to Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) for his Regensburg speech.

Orthodox officials complied with the kidnappers' demands, and posted billboards around Mosul repudiating the Pope's remarks. The family also raised the ransom money. But the kidnappers broke off negotiations, and on Wednesday the priest's brutally dismembered body was discovered.

Christian churches in Mosul have been the target of several recent attacks by Islamic militants, and Church officials there report that many families are leaving for safe heaven in other countries. The Christian population of Iraq has fallen by nearly 50% in the past 20 years.



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