ASIA/SYRIA - Father Murad speaks of his captivity

Homs - “Even while being deported, with my hands tied behind my back, I surprisingly found myself repeating again and again: I am going towards freedom. My captivity was like being born again”. This was how Syrian monk and priest Fr Jacques Murad, Prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian, summarised the spiritual experience during the time he was deprived of his freedom by ‘Islamic State’ jihadists. A period of trial which started on May 21, when armed men abducted the priest from the Monastery in the outskirts of Qaryatayn together with a co-worker, and ended on the 11th of this month of October, when Fr Jacques regained full freedom.
Speaking of his experience in captivity, offered to Arab Christian broadcaster Noursat TV-Tele Lumiere, Fr Jacques spoke among other things of a mass he celebrated in an underground dormitory where 250 other Christians from Qaryatayn were held captive by the same jihadists, and with whom the priest was united again last August 11. “The Christians – said Fr Jacques – 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 – the Syrian monk added – strengthened the faith of everyone including my faith as a priest. It is as if I have been born again”.
Fr Murad belongs to the monastic community in Deir Mar Musa, founded by the Italian Jesuit Paolo Dall'Oglio, from Rome, who disappeared in the north of Syria on 29 July 2013 while in Raqqa, a stronghold of ‘Islamic State’ jihadists.