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Priest imprisoned by Islamic State thinks Canada can do more for Syria

Then, on the eighth day, Father Mourad lived a “rather unique experience” with a stranger. A hooded man, dressed in black, came to meet him in his makeshift cell. The priest thought they were to escort him to his execution. But what happened changed the way he lived his detention thereafter. The hooded man saluted the priest and had a long and thorough conversation with him. When Mourad asked him why he was made captive, the masked man told the priest to see his detention as a “spiritual retreat.” So that’s what the priest started doing, diving deep into himself, rediscovering the riches of his own spiritual heritage.

“I really felt God’s presence at this meeting. Jihadists are usually quite aggressive. This person, it was exceptional. It felt as if God was speaking through him. When he told me to consider this captivity as a retreat, I think it truly was God speaking to me through him,” Father Mourad said.

He was able to escape the Islamic State on a motorcycle, with the help of a Muslim friend. But for security reasons, he won’t say more about how he did it.

Despite the hardships, Father Mourad holds no bitterness nor vengefulness. “(My abductors) tried to live Islam through the Quran and the Islamic law, but with an extremist and rigid mind. They’re using Islam and their political position as a way to react against the dictatorships of the Arabic world,” he said.

“I hope that the Muslim world will one day find a way to reconcile Islamic law and human rights. It’s only through this path that the Muslim world will be able to adapt itself and find its place in today’s world. And to achieve a true democracy in Islamic countries, a democracy that adapts itself and is valid for Islamic culture and religion,” Father Mourad added.

Father Mourad planned to return to his new ministry: working with refugees in northern Iraq.

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