Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

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His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim delivers a letter to President Barak Obama

At the invitation of President Barak Obama, His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim attended a Christmas Reception at the White House on Tuesday, December 17, 2013, where the President and the First Lady took the opportunity to thank everyone in attendance for the service they render to the United States and to their neighbor. After several words of welcome the President extended his appreciation to all those who in any manner, shape or form have supported him and his administration during his term in office.

As the President greeted and shook the hands of his guests, Archbishop Karim spontaneously brought to the attention of the President the Christian situation in Syria and the on-going dilemma of the two kidnapped Archbishops. His Eminence hand delivered a letter to the President drawing attention to the suffering of Christians in Syria, the two abducted Archbishops and the most recent abduction of the eleven nuns living in Maalula’s Mar Takla Convent. When asked about his reaction to the gathering, His Eminence said, “We have succeeded in bringing our message to the attention of the President of the United States. All we can do at this time is pray for a positive reaction and some involvement from him.”

Accompanying His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim was Elias Sarkar, President of the Archdiocesan Executive Council.

Letter to President Barak Obama

December 17, 2013
President Barak Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,
I am writing you concerning the two Archbishops, Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Metropolitan Boulous Yazigi, both of Aleppo, Syria, who were abducted by Chechen militants operating in Syria. The Kidnapping took place at the Syrian Turkish border on April 22, 2013. Their chauffeur was mercilessly shot and killed, and the two clerics were taken captive to an unknown location. Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim is a United States Citizen.

After numerous futile efforts over the past several months, by many, including His Holiness Pope Francis, no resolution surfaced, leaving everyone asking what more can possibly be done? No ransom was asked, which further clouded the reasoning behind the act. This month eleven nuns living in Maalula’s Mar Takla Convent were kidnapped after rebels seized the Qalamoun town of Yabrud. These events receive world-wide exposure and are monitored daily. They highlight the danger of religious extremists in the area and what Christians have to reckon with on a daily basis.

Mr. President, we are humbly seeking your intercession which, along with the involvement of international diplomats, would bring an end to these unacceptable tactics which victimize innocent and helpless citizens. I have personally pursued and cooperated with the State Department with no real consequence to the effort. Unfortunately the process at hand proved overly time consuming and unproductive considering the intense urgency of the situation.

Mr. President we appeal to you, as the leader of the free world, to do all that you can within the power and authority of your office, to secure the safe return of all these innocent victims. This Christmas season is a blessed time of the year, and a kind and peace-loving gesture of this magnitude would be very timely and much appreciated. May God bless you, your family and the United States of America.
Sincerely yours,

Cyril Aphrem Karim,
Archbishop

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