Oct 16, 2014

Assyria: Ancient Monastery Desecrated by IS Militants

IS militants have desecrated the historic monastery of Mar Behnam by removing crosses and burning ancient manuscripts.  This follows the demolition of other Assyrian buildings and structures of religious and cultural significance to the Assyrian people by IS forces, including the destruction of Jonah’s Tomb and the Assyrian Green Church.

Below is an article published by AINA:

Militiamen from the self-proclaimed 'Islamic Caliphate' have removed the crosses and burned ancient manuscripts in the historic Monastery of Mar Behnam, ten minutes from the city of Qaraqosh, that they have occupied since last July [2014].

Confirmation of the desecration came from a former village chief who lives near the monastery. He told Syriac Catholic priest Fr Charbel Issa, who was in charge of the monastery until three years ago.

"Anything can happen with the terrorists of the Islamic State. They will destroy everything, if not stopped", said Syriac Catholic priest Fr Nizar Semaan in a conversation with Fides. As reported by the website lankawa.com, the walls of the monastery now carry the inscription: 'property of the Islamic State'.

ISIS threatened to kill, and then threw out the monks last July 20 [2014]. Families living at the monastery were also expelled.

The ancient monastery, dating from the fourth century is dedicated to Assyrian Martyr Prince Behnam and his sister Sarah. Many ancient books and artefacts were kept there. It is one of the oldest and most venerated places of worship of the Syriac Christianity. The monastery was renovated in 1986, and until the war, was visited by thousands of Christian and Muslim pilgrims each year.