Thursday, October 09, 2014

Fr. Hanna & 4 women released; India Jesuits denounce violence

ASIA/SYRIA – The four women abducted along with Father Hanna have been released; no message from the kidnappers
Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - Yesterday the 4 women who were part of the group of about twenty hostages kidnapped by an armed gang along with Father Hanna Jallouf, parish priest of the Syrian village of Knayeh, in the night between Sunday 5 and Monday 6 October (see Fides 10/07/2014) were released. This was reported to Fides Agency by Bishop Georges Abou Khazen OFM, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite. "The kidnappers - explains Bishop Abou Khazen - did not ask the women who were released any questions". Local sources confirm that the kidnappers were armed. So far, the authors of the kidnapping have not sent any messages to the hostages’ relatives and friends. But the high number of abductees suggests that we are not dealing with common criminals. The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land attributes the seizure to a collective brigade of Jabhat al-Nusra, the jihadist faction that controls the area. The place where the hostages are held is a few kilom eters from the village of Knayeh.
Bishop Georges Abou Khazen reports to Fides the expressions of affection that come from all over Syria towards the Catholic community of Knayeh, where also Sister Patrizia Guarino, of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary works. "Sister Patrizia - says Bishop Abou Khazen - is venerated by all. She is the village nurse, and everyone sees her as a spiritual guide, who helps to heal not only diseases, but also the suffering of the soul". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 09/10/2014)
ASIA/SYRIA - Father Jallouf Hanna has been released
Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - Father Hanna Jallouf OFM, the Franciscan parish priest kidnapped on the night of Sunday 5and Monday, 6 October by a group of armed militants of the jihadist faction Jabhat al-Nusra has been released. This was confirmed to Fides Agency by Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Patriarchal Vicar of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite. "We know that he is well, and this is important - says Bishop Abou Khazen - but there is no news of the release of the men who were kidnapped with him". The four women who had also been kidnapped had already been released yesterday. A brief statement issued by the Custody of the Holy Land informs that the pastor has been placed under "house arrest" at the Convent of St. Joseph, in the village of Knayeh. Local sources told Fides that the measure was ordered by the Islamic Court. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 09/10/2014)
ASIA/INDIA - The Jesuits denounce: "600 attacks against religious minorities: stop to violence"
New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - A strong appeal has been launched to the central government and the governments of several Indian states in order to adopt "urgent measures to put an end to the orchestrated campaign, motivated by hatred and violence against religious minorities, which has a negative impact on the social harmony in many towns and villages, in many areas of the country" is what the Indian Jesuits gathered in the "Jesa" network (Jesuits in Social Action) ask for. The text of the appeal sent to Fides recalls that "the overt support from political leaders to radical groups and extremist Hindus has triggered violence in many places. The media reported more than 600 cases of violence against minorities between May and September 2014" while the perpetrators go unpunished.
"Impunity - say the Indian Jesuits - further encourages the extremists who are acting outside the law", while civil society has long called to the highest political authorities to stop "those who create disharmony and polarize society". More than 30 organizations that defend human rights have reiterated their request to protect the rights of minorities, especially the right to live with dignity as citizens of India, with equal dignity and equality.
The situation has become so critical, highlights the text sent to Fides, that even a well-known jurist - Fali Nariman has openly expressed his concern. "The first 100 days of the new government - say the Jesuits - have seen a crescendo of hate speeches against Muslims and Christians. Their identity is mocked, their citizenship questioned, their faith ridiculed. Coercion, divisions and suspicions multiply. Attacks against religious minorities have assumed alarming proportions: more than 600 from May to September 2014, in various parts of the country".
The Jesuits conclude: "The hatred, violence campaign and threats have left not only religious minorities speechless, but also civil society, lawyers and academics, while the government remains silent. The Christian community has been the target of mob violence in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh", according to an approach that -says the appeal - has changed its strategy: "A few deaths, but daily low-intensity violence that is becoming routine". This is reason why we ask for "fast action against those who create tension in society" and invites the Minister of the Interior to "issue a directive so that the police are not conditioned by extremist groups". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 09/10/2014)