Father Jaques Murad, the priest kidnapped in the area of Homs on May 21, known in the area of the village of Al-Qaryatayn, where he lived in the monastery of St. Elias, was much appreciated for his work proximity, dialogue, closeness and friendship towards the local community, in an area where a large majority are Sunni Muslims. This is why, says a source of Fides in the local Church, "the Muslim leaders of the community, village chiefs, clan leaders denounced the kidnapping and are now trying to open a channel and find a path for the release". However, "it seems that the people or groups who seized him are foreign to the social, ethnic and religious fabric of the area".
According to Fides source, "the timeliness of the fall of Palmyra, a nearby town, and the kidnapping of Fr. Murad, which occurred soon after, suggest a link with the Islamic state (IS). If this were confirmed, it would not be a promising sign: the local Islamic authorities have no influence on the IS. The circulating hypothesis is that some inhabitants of the area, for pure sectarian hatred, took him and then sold him to the Islamic State".
Father Murad resided in the village of Al-Qaryatayn, near Homs, for over 10 years. Since 1991 he had helped to recover the remains of the ancient monastery of St. Elias, where he had settled. Now the monastery is closed. The priest, of the same monastic community of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, animated the local Syrian Catholic parish, with about 300 faithful, promoted many initiatives at an ecumenical and interreligious level, building a substantial harmony among all the different ethnic and religious components.
Over the past two years, with the outbreak of the war, the sectarian propaganda deepened and jihadi groups began to disparage and despise non-Muslims. "Father Jaques lived a constant commitment to dialogue, prayer, reconciliation. He promoted solidarity among families of different religions, he was an example of humanitarian service without religious or ethnic labels. His life was an example to defuse sectarianism", says our source.
The hopes of his release today "come only from the local community, the Islamic authorities, from people of good will. But it will be difficult, as there are no bridges with the IS, since this is an entity with no ties with the community in the territory", concludes the source of Fides.
Source: Fides News