Holy Week is a time when Christians think of the crucifixion of Jesus. This year, they should also be meditating on another crucifixion: that of a 14-year-old boy, nailed to a cross by Islamists in Iraq.
This diabolical crime was part of a campaign by jihadists to extinguish one of the most ancient Christian Churches in the world, that of the Assyrians. Thanks to the indifference of the West, the campaign is going jolly well.
Assyrian Christians, who belong to the Syrian Orthodox Church and a number of other small, ancient Churches, worship in (and sometimes speak) the mother tongue of Jesus, Aramaic. A few weeks ago, I had the honour of attending the liturgically rich and strange Syrian Orthodox Vespers in Westminster Cathedral.
I don't know if the Christian teenager who was crucified in Basra last October knew Jesus's language, but by the time the Islamists had finished with him he certainly knew a great deal about his suffering.
"When they cook a dish in the Middle East, it is traditional to put the meat on top of the rice when they serve it. They kidnapped a woman’s baby in Baghdad, a toddler, and because the mother was unable to pay the ransom, they returned her child – beheaded, roasted and served on a mound of rice.
"The infant’s crime was to be an Assyrian, but this story, reported by the Barnabus Fund, went unnoticed in the West, like so many other horrific accounts of Christian persecution in Iraq. Since the invasion of Iraq, Muslim militants have bombed 28 churches and murdered hundreds of Christians. Last October, Islamists beheaded a priest in Mosul in revenge for the Pope’s remarks about Islam at Regensburg."