Abdullah Gül has informed the Syriac Orthodox Church that he spoke to Yuhanna Ibrahim yesterday. The two kidnapped bishops are said to be in good health
Marco Tosatti Taken from Vatican Insider
The President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, has informed figures of the Syriac Orthodox Church that yesterday he had the chance to speak with Yuhanna Ibrahim, one of the two prelates who were recently kidnapped near Aleppo as they were apparently attempting to negotiate the release of two priests who had been in the hands of the rebels for some time. The news was communicated by the Syrian Orthodox bishop, Daniel Kourieh in Beirut. The Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Kakka Iwas, was told that the Turkish president had “spoken” to Yuhanna Ibrahim “directly”.
Ibrahim was kidnapped alongside Bishop Boulos Yaziji, of the Greek Orthodox Church of Aleppo. Kourieh added that some in the Syriac Orthodoc Church are aware that President Gül is keeping a close eye on any development in the situation and is doing everything in his power to ensure the bishops’ release. It is believed the prelates are being held by an Islamic and fundamentalist rebel group.
As far as is known, the bishops are in good health and there has so far been no news of a ransom request or any demands for certain conditions to be met before their release can be guaranteed. It appears Gül did not speak to the Patriarch directly. This is according to a statement given to the Voice of Lebanon by the Syriac Orthodox Church’s spokesman, Efram. “Gül spoke to a Syriac Orthodox bishop in Turkey and informed him that Turkey is engaged in efforts to obtain the release of bishops Ibrahim and Yazihi.”
The bishops were kidnapped on 22 April in the village of Kafr Dael, about 10 km from Aleppo. It is believed, though not confirmed, that the kidnappers are Chechen jihadists. Thanks to the support given by Turkey, Britain and especially the U.S., there has been an Islamic fundamentalist “foreign legion” operating in Syria for some time now. Its members come from all over the world, including Europe. They are still holding two priests captive: Fr. Michel Kayval, an Armenian Catholic and Fr. Maher Mahfouz, a Greek Orthodox priest, who were abducted last February.
In an interview with AsiaNews’ Simone Cantarini, the Greek Melkite archbishop of Aleppo, Jean Clement Jeanbart, stated that the over 1000 faithful that attend the afternoon prayer vigils for Mgr. Ibrahim and Mgr. Yahizi in the local cathedral, were shocked by the conflicting news that has been circulating in recent days about the alleged release of the clerics. “For several months – he said – a dictatorship of” false information exists in Syria that creates confusion and false hopes.”” The Western media – the prelate continued – have a great responsibility cannot play with the lives and consciences of the people. There are men and women here who risk their lives to affirm and tell the truth and who will not stoop to bartering with religious groups or rebels or the regime.”
The bishop said all Christians, particularly priests and bishops have “the duty to witness to and follow the path of truth in this land troubled not only by bombs, but also by hatred fomented through the lies.”