By Stoyan Zaimov
, Christian Post Reporter
Syrian priest who was held captive for months by the Islamic State terror group
before being released said he was kept in an underground dormitory with 250
other Christians who refused to convert to Islam despite being pressured every
Christians were often questioned about their faith and about the Christian
doctrine, and they did not convert to Islam despite much pressure. They were
faithful to the recitation of the rosary. This experience of trial strengthened
the faith of everyone, including my faith as a priest. It is as if I have been
born again," Father Jacques Murad, prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian,
shared of his experience, according to Agenzia Fides.
The Christians the priest refers to are believed to be a group of 250 people
kidnapped from the captured
city of Qaryatayn.
which has captured several cities across Iraq and Syria, has taken large groups
of Christian hostages, and imposed contracts on those who remain, forcing them
to live under harsh conditions or be killed.
was abducted by jihadists from the Monastery in the outskirts of Qaryatayn
together with a co-worker on May 21, but was finally released on Oct. 11.
news agency ANSA reported that sources close to the priest affirmed he had been
freed earlier this month, but they did not provide any details surrounding his release.
priest said that he kept up hopes despite his kidnapping: "Even while
being deported, with my hands tied behind my back, I surprisingly found myself
repeating again and again: I am going toward freedom."
which captured Qaryatayn in August, has forced Christians still living in the
city to pay the Islamic jizya tax and agree to a long list of demands if they
are to remain at their homes.
terror group has captured other Christians as well, and is still holding at
Assyrians that it kidnapped in mass raids from villages in the Khabur
river valley in February.
emerged in October that the terrorists planning to execute the 180 Assyrians
after negotiators failed to meet the high asking price for their release.
negotiations, led by Bishop Ephrem Otnaial, head of the Church of the East in
Syria, have been suspended due to the unbearable demands of the terror
group," revealed Osama Edward, director of the Assyrian Human Rights
Network, noting that IS has asked for as much as $12 million.
threatened to execute the 180 hostages if we didn't pay the ransom," he
is not yet known what has happened with the captured Assyrians, but IS has
already executed scores of Christians and other minorities throughout its
captured territory by beheading and other methods.