MANILA, July 29, 2014—Armenia. Auschwitz. Nanking. Cambodia. Bosnia. Rwanda. Never again, we thought. We’re wrong.
Many Catholic Filipinos online are posting the Arablic letter “Nuun” as their profile pictures to express indignation over the ongoing genocide of thousands of their Christian brethren in Iraq by members of a jihadist group half an ocean away.
Taking the digital world by storm, the symbolic move protests against what is eerily reminiscent of the Armenian Holocaust of 1915.
These Facebook “Crusaders” condemn the systematic forced evacuation, robbery, torture, rape, and killing of entire Christian communities in Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) extremists.
All these in spite of the Ramadhan.
Among those who have joined this global protest are priests Melvin Castro and Abe Arganiosa, Knight Rommel Lopez and pro-lifer Lorna B. Melegrito, art curator Joel de Leon, and hundreds of ordinary faithful.
Lopez laments, “If the only media of mass communication you use is TV, like what most Filipinos use, chances are you don’t know that Christians are being murdered in Iraq right now. Mind-boggling why newscasts don’t even mention this systematic mass murder of Christians.”
Ateneo professor Quirino Sugon referred to this collective indifference as the “silence of the lambs”.
‘Nuun’ for Nazarene
Catholic apologist Christopher R. Alfieri shares on his Facebook post that Nuun, the first letter of the word ‘Nasrani’, meaning Nazarene, is what the Muslim extremists of the ISIS use to indicate the home of a Christian or Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
“The goal of the Isis militants is either to drive the followers of Christ from that city, force them to commit apostasy, or put them to the sword,” Alfieri explained.
A Rorate Caeli article stresses, “In their genocidal physical elimination of Christians from the Mesopotamian city of Mosul, Muslim terrorists marked each Christian-owned institution and building with this letter, for the extermination of holdouts and expropriation of their belongings.”
The Telegraph recently reported, “For the first time in 1,600 years, Mass is not being said in Mosul: an ancient culture has been wiped out in a matter of weeks. It’s a war crime that, strangely, no one seems to want to talk about.”
It added, “The genocide of local Christians did not begin with Isis but with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Prior to the conflict, there were 1.5 million “Chaldeans, Syro-Catholics, Syro-Orthodox, Assyrians from the East, Catholic and Orthodox Armenians” in the country – living, of course, under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, but living nonetheless. Today, their number has dropped to just 400,000. Religious violence peaked in the first four years of the invasion.”
Pope urges prayer, end of violence
Pope Francis on Sunday, July 27, renewed his call for an end to the conflicts, not only in Iraq and the Middle East, but also in Ukraine.
He spoke of the victims of war, particularly the children who die or are injured and orphaned by the violence.
The Pope pleaded, “I think especially of the children whose hopes for a dignified future are taken from them, dead children, injured and mutilated children, orphans and children who have bits of weapons as toys, children who don’t know how to smile. Please stop. I ask you with all my heart.”
Pope Francis urged all those listening to his words to continue joining him in prayer that God might grant to the peoples and leaders in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Ukraine the wisdom and strength to pursue the path of peace with determination and to face each dispute with the force of dialogue and reconciliation.
Every decision, he said, must not be based on particular interests, but on the common good and on respect for each person.
Remember that all is lost with war and nothing is lost with peace, the Pope said. (Raymond A. Sebastián)