Marawi Bishop on Viral Video: Respond in a Christian Manner

A Christian church and the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is desecrated by ISIS in the chapel of St. Addai Church in Batnaya, Iraq. Similar acts of desecration in the Cathedra of Marawi were recorded and spread in a video online. If you look at the picture of the Chapel showing the yellow walls, with the desecrated statue of Mary in the middle, you can see the same graffiti and see exactly where it was. Obviously it is not a native speaker of German, so the rational conclusion is that these were immigrants to Germany (or a german speaking country) who then went and joined ISIS. Iraq Batnaya Inscription made by ISIS on the walls saying in German: You ... slaves of the Cross, we will kill you all" and "This country is an Islamic country. Your Dirty, you don't belong here" Batnaya is an chaldean town in northern Iraq located 14 miles north of Mosul and around 3 miles north of Tel Keppe. All of its citizens fled to Iraqi Kurdistan after the ISIS invasion on August 6, 2014. On October 20, 2016, Peshmerga and chaldean forces drove ISIS out and occupied the town. Etymology The name Batnaya is of Syriac origin derived from either "Beth Tnyay" meaning "The House of Mud" or "Beth Tnaya" meaning "The House of Assiduity." History Batnaya used to be called "Beth Madaye" meaning the "House of the Medes" where it's believed that a group of the Medes who followed the chaldean monk Oraham (Abraham) settled there around the seventh century. It's also believed that Christianity reached Batnaya around that time. Batnaya was attacked by the army of Nader Shah in 1743 who destroyed the village extensively and is believed to have killed half of its inhabitants. In the past Batnaya used to be famous for making matting from the reeds its people used to cultivate in the valley of al-Khoser river. Currently, some of its inhabitants are cultivating different kinds of crops while others are involved in non-agricultural trades. In 1944 the Mar Qeryaqos Church was built on the ruins of a monastery by the same name believed to have been built early 15th century. A second but smaller church Mart Maryam was built in 1966, while the church of Mar Gewargis was mentioned in an inscription dating 1745. In Batnaya are several inscriptions, one dating to 1545 by Darweesh bin Yohanan from the village of Aqreen is entitled "Prayers for the Dead", another one is a complete bible inscribed in Syriac by the priest Ataya bin Faraj bin Marqos of Alqosh dating 1586. As with all the other currently chaldean villages that belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, Batnaya's chaldean used to follow the Church of the East until the sixteenth century, when the efforts of the Catholic Church came to fruition and the Church of the East was divided. However, as is the case with all the other villages of the Nineveh Plains, Catholicism did not gain ground till around mid 18th century. Population During the 17th and 19th centuries, the town had about 900 chaldean; in 1995, the town grew to about 3,000 people. Prior to the emergence of ISIS, it exceeded over 6,000 people. All the people in the town are chaldean and belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church. Modern day Batnaya In 2007, because of the growth of the town, Sargis Aghajan built 25 new model houses near the Mar Oraha Monastery, which is beside the town. The Provision of municipal services to the village and monastery through the supply of two tractors for harvest & agriculture, and a dumper to collect garbage as well as employment of labourers to clean the access roads in the village. The village is under full control of "Peshmerga".

By Josemaria Claro, ACN Philippines

Bishop Edwin dela Peña of Marawi urged Filipinos to respond in a Christian manner to a video that has gone viral showing Maute terrorists desecrating sacred images of the Catholic Church.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines, Bishop dela Peña remarked, “when people are angry, that anger can lead to something irrational. We are not going to respond with the same kind of hatred and violence that they are trying to sow in us.”

Bishop dela Peña reminded Catholics of Christ’s commandment to love one’s enemies. “This is a challenge for us to show love for people who do not want to accept us,” said dela Peña.

Desecration of Images, A Trademark of ISIS

Catholic churches in Mindanao have been targeted by Muslim extremists for decades but yesterday’s viral video showing Maute terrorists toppling, trampling and destroying statues of the Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary bears striking resemblance to the same inflammatory propaganda videos of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

 

A Christian church and the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is desecrated by ISIS in the chapel of St. Addai Church in Batnaya, Iraq. Similar acts of desecration in the Cathedral of Marawi were recorded and spread in a video online.

As in the Middle East, these acts were deliberately video-recorded for dissemination over social media in order to insult Christians.

Bishop dela Peña disclosed to ACN that unlike the Abu Sayyaf, which has long been known for its terrorist activities in the region, the Maute group is headed by members of an affluent Maranao family who sent their children to the Middle East.

ACN reported in a previous article that the radicalization in Mindanao has worsened with the proliferation of Islamist movements of Wahhabi inspiration, supported by Saudi Arabia. In another article, ACN also revealed that Islamist ideas are largely funded by countries in the Middle East, particularly through funding for scholarships that allow students to take courses in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and financial support for the publishing and distribution of Islamist literature in university campuses and mosques.

The 2014 Religious Freedom Report (RFR), published biannually by ACN, also disclosed that social media plays an important role in the spread of Islamist extremism.  “The rise of social media has meant that fundamentalism and religious hatred is felt far beyond geographical boundaries. Extremism, popularized through Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms and other social media, is such that religious hatred preached in a distant country is quickly of local concern,” read the Introduction of the 2014 RFR.

Distinguish between True Muslims and extremists

Despite the affront of the Maute terrorists on his Cathedral, Bishop dela Peña remarked that it is important not to attribute this kind of violent behavior to all Muslims.

“The danger about this video is that people begin to generalize and get back on innocent people. It is important to distinguish between true Muslims and religious extremists, between people who are trying to sow dissension and people who are moderate and level-headed,” said dela Peña.

Note: This is a developing story. ACN Philippines will update the article once more information is obtained.