Monday, March 14, 2005
Death of an Assyrian Christian
Four days after Raymond was beheaded, his father, 66 year-old Farouk walked through the doors of one of Mosul's hospitals. He knew to head to the hospital yard where unidentified bodies are usually dumped.
He searches through the corpses and finds a body without a head. He opens the sheet in which the body is been wrapped and recognizes, by the clothes, that is his only son. He embraces the headless corpse screams in despair. Something rolls out from under the sheet. It is the head. He picks it up, kisses the forehead and closes the eyelids.
Tearing off a piece of the sheet he carefully binds the head to the breast of the corpse and carries it to a waiting car. Many look on. No one helps. It is known that those who help someone murdered by the Islamists may themselves be considered as collaborators.
Assyrians are amongst the earliest converts to Christianity and Aramaic, the native language of Jesus Christ, can still be heard in Assyrian villages and cities. Descendents of the great Mesopotamian civilization, they still celebrate through art and memory their roots in what is commonly referred to as the cradle of civilization. Today there are little under 1 million Assyrians left in Iraq. Fifteen years ago there were over one and half million. Hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring countries like Syria and Jordan to escape the persecution and seek a better life, any life, elsewhere.