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Fr. Boulous Iskander
Photo from Middle East Concern
A Syrian Orthodox priest was found beheaded and dismembered in Mosul, Iraq on October 11, two days after being kidnapped. Fr. Boulous Iskander (59) was abducted by a group of Muslims while he was visiting mechanic shops on a Mosul street. The kidnappers then telephoned Iskander's family and demanded that they pay a ransom of $350,000.

After a series of negotiations with the family, the ransom amount was reduced to $40,000. However, they also then demanded that Iskander's church publicly renounce the remarks that Pope Benedict XVI made about Islam last month.

All of the kidnappers' demands were met. His family managed to raise the full ransom and his church posted 30 large signboards around the city that disagreed with the Pope's comments. Unfortunately, even after these actions, the kidnappers did not make any attempt to contact the family with an indication of Iskander's release.

At approximately 7:00 p.m. on October 11, Fr. Iskander's body was discovered in the remote Tahir city distinct of Mosul. His arms and legs had been severed and arranged around his head, which rested on his chest.

The priest's beheading is the latest in a series of recent violent attacks against religious minorities in Iraq. According to Compass Direct, anonymous Iraqi church sources reported that a Christian layman from Baghdad, Dr. Joseph Fridon Petros (55) had been ambushed and killed on October 11 on his way to Mosul's capital. There have also been several reports of young Christian women being kidnapped and made to endure torture and sexual violence at the hands of Islamist militants. The Assyrian International News Agency also claimed on October 12 that a fourteen-year-old boy had been crucified in the Christian neighbourhood of Albasra on October 10. VOMC has not received any further confirmation of this latter incident.

Fr. Iskander is survived by his wife, Azhar, sons Fadi and Yohamma and daughters Fadiyeh and Mariam.

Pray that God will bring comfort to the families of Fr. Iskander and Dr. Petros. Pray that they will be assured that God is their Defender and a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5; Psalm 10:17-18). Pray for the protection of Christians throughout Iraq.

For more information on the persecution facing Christians in Iraq, click here.

Current Ministry Project

By working with credible ministry partners, VOMC is providing persecuted Christian women sewing skills training so they can receive a sustainable source of income and thus adequately support their families. In addition, these women are able to seize the opportunities presented to them through their new businesses by serving as effective witnesses for Christ.

Project Fund: Women’s Ministry

Country Information

39,650,145 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Arab (75-80), Kurdish (15-20), Turkoman, Assyrian, and other (5)

Religion (%)
Islam (95-98), Christianity (1), other (1-4)

President Barham Salih (2018)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system

Mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Iraq

Pray for the protection of the remaining believers in Iraq during this time of upheaval and danger. May many churches and Christian relief organizations seize the opportunity to provide greatly needed assistance and ministry to the numerous suffering people of this war-torn nation. As God’s work of healing, provision and restoration takes place, pray that a stable democratic government will be established.


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