Babylon & Beyond

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Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: Should the man responsible for an archbishop's death hang?

May 21, 2008 |  6:51 pm

The sentencing of a fugitive Al Qaeda in Iraq leader to hang for the slaying of Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho has drawn mixed responses in Iraq.

The U.S. Embassy and U.S.-led military force praised Iraqi authorities Sunday for bringing to justice the person responsible for the kidnapping and death of the archbishop in the northern city of Mosul more than two months ago.

But today, Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk protested the sentence, saying, "Christianity is the religion of tolerance." Sako was troubled by the government's failure to release details of the investigation that led to the conviction of Ahmed Ali Ahmed, also known as Abu Omar.

"Was he the only one who killed four men? Why did he kill him?  For religious or political reasons? Who was behind that?" Sako asked.

Rahho was kidnapped Feb. 29 by gunmen who killed his driver and two guards. His body was found two weeks later, though officials said at the time that it was unclear whether the ailing archbishop had been killed or had died of natural causes. His death prompted an outpouring of grief among Iraq's dwindling Christian community and drew international condemnation.

Tell us what you think.

--Alexandra Zavis in Baghdad