Book review: 'Abducted in Baghdad'

Book review: 'Abducted in Baghdad'

A Priest in Baghdad by Saad Sirop Hanna, with Edward S Aris - Foreword by David Alton

How do we respond in the face of evil, especially to those who inflict grave evil upon us? Abducted in Iraq is Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna’s firsthand account of his abduction in 2006 by a militant group associated with al-Qaeda. As a young parish priest and visiting lecturer on philosophy at Babel College near Baghdad, Fr Hanna was kidnapped after celebrating Mass on August 15 and released on September 11. Hanna’s plight attracted international attention after Pope Benedict XVI requested prayers for the safe return of the young priest.

The book charts Hanna’s twenty-eight days in captivity as he struggles through threats, torture, and the unknown to piece together what little information he has in a bid for survival. Throughout this time, he questions what a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq means for the future, as well as the events that lead the country on that path. Through extreme hardship, the young priest gains a greater knowledge both of his faith and of remaining true to himself.

This riveting narrative reflects the experience of persecuted Christians all over the world today, especially the plight of Iraqi Christians who continue to live and hold their faith against tremendous odds, and it sheds light on the complex political and spiritual situation that Catholics face in predominantly non-Christian nations. More than just a personal story, Abducted in Iraq is also Hanna’s portrayal of what has happened to the ancient churches of one of the oldest Christian communities and how the West’s reaction and inaction have affected Iraqi Christians. More than just a story of one man, it is also the story of a suffering and persecuted people. As such, this book will be of great interest to those wanting to learn more about the violence in the Middle East and the threats facing Christians there, as well as all those seeking to strengthen their own faith.

" Abducted in Iraq is Saad Hanna’s riveting account of his captivity in Iraq among Muslim extremists. The story Hanna tells will leave readers breathless. He recounts how his captors seized him from his car in Baghdad, tortured him, and repeatedly demanded that he convert to Islam. Through it all Hanna held courageously to his Christian faith, and refused stubbornly to hate his captors. By the end of Abducted in Iraq readers will not only be inspired, they will also gain a new sense of compassion for those who suffer from religious violence." — Gabriel Said Reynolds, author of The Emergence of Islam: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective

“Bishop Hanna’s testimony and story deserves to be read by anyone who has ever wondered how they would react if they were kidnapped, tortured, told to abjure their faith, and faced likely death. It should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in the violence and hatred that has disfigured Iraq and that now disfigures Syria. It should be read by anyone interested in the widely dishonoured Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—born in the ashes of Auschwitz, and which asserts our right to freedom of religion or belief. And it should be read by anyone who feels they need to be better informed about the ancient churches of the Middle East and the existential threat that these Christians face.” — David Alton, professor emeritus, John Moore’s University, Independent Life Peer of the British House of Lords

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 15:00
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