In the Arabic Quadrant there are many ways to fight the fury of the Islamic State fundamentalists. The most obvious is the one of the air raids, of the bombs dropped, of the attacks on the land strongholds. Then there is another, perhaps more decisive, because it aims not to eliminate a single jihadist but the same mentality of fear. It consists in not bowing to the destruction and death, to bear witness to their faith precisely where it may seem unthinkable. A slap to the strategy of terror.
Already in mid-July 2014, jihadists had imposed the last Christian families to flee Mosul, stripping them of all their belongings, triggering an exodus mostly to Iraqi Kurdistan. For this the two Christian marriages celebrated now in the ruins of a church destroyed by ISIS in Syria have a particular value. The Arab newspapers in fact give much prominence to the event, then bounced on social media, defining it as “the first marriage” celebrated in what remains of the St. George Orthodox Church in Homs. The Sunni fundamentalist on July 25 a year ago demolished with explosives the mausoleum of the patron saint; witnesses spoke of a “powerful explosion” that took place in the late evening devastating the entire building.
On the same day the militia destroyed another symbolic place for Shiites but also for the three monotheistic religions: the legendary tomb of Seth, son of Adam and Eve, from which, the Bible says, descends all humanity. The strategy is clear: destroying all religious monuments and places of worship in the area, in an attempt to eliminate the tradition of coexistence between different faiths believers in these regions, from the Shia Muslims, the Christians to non-Muslim minorities, such as Yazidis and the Shabak.
Actually, the destruction of churches and monasteries by Isis is not new: a pattern in place since 1996, when sectarian violence erupted after the bombing of the mosque of al-Askeri in Samarra at the hands of Sunni extremists. Up to now it has been targeted 72 churches and church institutions in various cities of Iraq. Many attacks were perpetrated by al-Qaeda, which has bequeathed to Isis his terrorism. Nonetheless it could be said that Isis has gone perfecting this agenda to a level unheard of, indiscriminately targeting all denominations: Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Catholics, Syrian Catholics, the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldeans. Even the attacks against mosques testify this drift.
Therefore, the captions accompanying the photos of this renewed wedding in San Giorgio on the social networks are significant: “Hold on to happiness despite the tragic reality.” Dozens of images show a small festive crowd, the families of two married couples, who are taken smiling. On the site Tayyar.org a citizen of the district “to Hamiyah” posted his comment: “Shrine homeless, walls torn, icons looted not stop love.” In that sentence is the hope of an entire people. And maybe even more.
At this time of rebirth, where the courage to witness to the faith in Christ challenge even the fear of death, the strong words of Pope Francis uttered during the Regina Coeli Easter Monday resound, when he asked the international community not to be “inert and dumb “in front of the ” unacceptable crime” of those killed by the mere fact of being Christian: “It’s an alarming drift from the basic human rights. I really hope that the international community does not turn his eyes away, they are our martyrs today, and they are many”.