Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: ‘Child I baptized cut in half by ISIS’

By ACNS staff
Posted Aug 8, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State1 on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview Aug. 8, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

Photo: Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

Canon Andrew White Photo: Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

The fact that Andrew’s brother was named George after St George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital demonstrates the strong ties the family had to the church there. The boy’s father had been a founder member of the church back in 1998 when the Canon had first come to Baghdad. White added, “This man, before he retired north to join his family was the caretaker of the Anglican church.”

Baghdad is part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, which is included in the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, a member church of the Anglican Communion.

Though the move north should have proved safer for the Iraqi Christian family, the Islamic State made sure that it became a place of terror. “This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” said White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”

The Islamic State group captured Qaraqosh overnight Aug. 6/7 after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

ISIS, which has been called a “brutal, extremist group” and which claims to have fighters from across the world, announced the creation of a “caliphate” – an Islamic state – across its claimed territory in Iraq and Syria a month ago. There is a BBC background report here and one from the New York Times here.

The boy’s family, along with many other townspeople, has now fled to Irbil. However, news reports suggest this may be the Islamic State’s next destination.

Anglicans at the forefront of relief
The violent takeover of parts of Iraq by the Islamic State is threatening to bring about what the United Nations has said would be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the beleaguered nation.

White said that Anglicans there have been working hard to provide a lot of support for the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh to the north, as well as the many other minority groups targeted by the Islamic State.

“Anglicans are literally at the forefront of bringing help in this situation and there’s no-one else,” he said adding that the church is supplying much-needed food, water, accommodation and other relief items thanks to financial contributions from supporters overseas. The church’s activities are led by a Muslim, Dr. Sarah Ahmed.

“We need two things: prayer and money. With those two we can do something. Without those we can do nothing.”

As regards prayer, White said, “I have three ‘P’s that I always mention which is for protection, provision and perseverance. We need protection, we need to provide for those people and we need to keep going.”

It’s clear from social media posts on Facebook and Twitter that members of the Anglican Communion right across the world are praying for this situation. Many have also indicated their support for persecuted Christians in Iraq by changing their social media avatars to the Arabic symbol for “N” denoting Nazarene, which ISIS has been using to identify Christian homes.

Leaders speak out
In recent days, Anglican leaders from countries including Egypt, Wales, Brazil and South Africa have all expressed their dismay at the situation unfolding in Iraq.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued this statement Aug. 8 on the situation in Iraq, shortly before he travelled from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.

Other Christian leaders have also spoken up about the situation in Iraq including Roman Catholics, who, in England and Wales, have designated Aug. 9, as a Day of Prayer for Christians in Iraq. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Aug. 7 wrote to the United Nations, following an emergency meeting of patriarchs, calling on the UN Security Council to “fulfill their responsibilities in stopping this genocide.”

Those wanting to assist the church in Baghdad can find more information here.



Comments (64)

  1. Donna Hicks says:

    For additional information on this situation, Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraqi Kurdistan is posting on their Facebook page:
    CPT was based in Baghdad before their move to Suleimani a number of years ago.

    1. martha knight says:

      Thank you Donna.

      1. The Rev Donald Heacock says:

        Where is the Presiding Bishop on this. She was all over children on the border?

    2. Talmage G. Bandy says:

      Thank you Donna. I’m sick in my stomach just reading about this but will send money to ERD.
      Tally Bandy

  2. Len Freeman says:

    We keep you in our prayers…

  3. Martin Townsend says:

    Archbishop Welby spoke sensibly of “the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.” As we pray for victims and work to support them as refugees, our international voice must bring others along to challenge that perverse culture of impunity.

    1. Fred Lindstrom says:

      I agree with Martin Towensend completely. I also ask when will the Presiding Bishop, House of Bishops, and other ECUSA leaders stand up, speak out and call for the USA and other nations to act to protect and defend Christians under persecution?

  4. Julian Malakar says:

    “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It is sad that no Islamic scholars or political leaders of Muslim World (Sunni or Shia) criticize ISIS’ (Islamic State) atrocities against minorities forcing them to convert to Islam. It is common practice of Muslim leaders keep silent and enjoys oppression against non-Muslims for the sake of expanding Muslims world, under shadow of Jihadists movement to establish their kingdom of Allah. They blame terrorist Muslims if situation goes wrong, as it happened in 9/11 tragedy in New York.

    Truth about keeping silent by Muslim Scholars lies behind inspiration from the word of Muslim holy book, the Quran to establish kingdom of their Allah (caliph of Islam like the Ottoman dynasty). It is holy acts for all Muslims to participate in Jihad to establish their Allah’s kingdom by fighting and killing non-Muslims or imposing taxes as pressure for conversion. Muslims’ Prophet Muhammad established 1st Islamic state in Medina during sixth centuries. Only pressure from non-Muslims could force Muslims to be human again and keep human rights.

    1. Danny Anderson says:

      That is so true Julian. God ring down your hand of mercy for our brothers and sisters in the middle east.

      1. Lindsay Pentelow says:

        No that is not true. The Qur’an teaches religious tolerance very clearly. The ideology of ISIS is a perversion of Qur’anic Islam. I make the point not to minimize the appalling nature of ISIS and what it is doing. Rather that if we persist in a position which says ‘our sect is good and the other evil’ that can only lead to perpetual war. And we need also to acknowledge that the whole catastrophe is a result of the actions of an evangelical christian US president who said God had told him to invade Iraq. All fundamentalisms are evil and we have to shun and oppose all of them if we are to find peace.

      2. John Dow says:

        This simply isn’t true. Top British Imams have denounced ISIS as ‘corrupt, evil, vicious cowboys and terrorists’. Please don’t cheapen what is a hideous and tragic situation with anti-muslim rhetoric – this is a time for compassion, not for political point-scoring.

      3. Daniel Rioba says:

        Julian is right! I have really Remembered George Bush Junior.

    2. Jaime Franco says:

      Your comments are so very true. Having personally served in Bagdad and met and prayed with Canon Andrew and have seen some of the effects of the Muslim believes on the Christian there. While there I spoke with many Arabs and came to call many of them friends. However, the Muslims I worked with I respected and tried to full understand their thoughts and believes, but for them to truly follow the Quran and live by Muslim ( sharia law) most could not, did not and did not want to. In Southwest Asia you are born into a religion and you do not leave the Muslim religion. I did met a few Muslims that were Christians and their Muslim families did not know because if they did it would mean their life. I pray all the time for what Canon Andrew is doing in Iraq and for the Christians there and around the world are prosecuted for their believers. I met some of the Children from St. George’s when they visited the US Embassy and it is so sad that they are in a place where there are hated and killed because they are Christians. May G-d be with all of them. As I write this Canon Andrew’s favorite song comes to me. “Jesus Loves Me”. He always says that everything will be alright because we have Jesus and he loves us. God Bless you Canon Andrew White and always be with you and the Christian Children of Iraq.

    3. John Fisher says:

      Koranic scholars know and correctly conclude That what is happening in the Middle East is simply the copying and implementing the example of Mohamed, the Koran and hadiths. There are no moderate Moslems only those who don’t implement their religion. Why? Because they are like many… pragmatic.

      1. Dr. Paul Stevenson says:

        You are incorrect, John Fisher. I taught at Nawroz University in the city of Duhok, Kurdistan, Iraq for three years (2010-2013). Kurds detest terrorists and terrorism. This is not because of pragmatism. It is because they _are_ moderate Muslims. My Muslim students would wish me Merry Christmas and Happy Easter. They had no obligation to; they just wanted to. (I likewise wished them Happy Eid twice a year.) Kurdish and Christian students were often best friends. There was even a Muslim-Yezidi couple (boyfriend and girlfriend). Many Arabs have taken refuge in Kurdistan because, unlike ISIS, the Kurds will not chop their heads off over a religious difference. My Muslim friends in Iraq, both Kurd and Arab, have denounced ISIS as not even being Muslims. I suggest you inform yourself better before making sweeping statements.

    4. A. Nuran says:

      Not true at all. Every Muslim government, every Quranic scholar I’m familiar with, all the Muslims I know personally and the heads of the largest mosques in Turkey, Egypt, America, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and even the Taliban and Al Qaeda have condemned them. They are universally hated by the every Muslim country to the extent that even the Saudis, Iranians and Israelis have united against them. The Turks have even urged the Iraqi Kurds to declare independence in order to defend themselves against ISIS. They kill Shia, Alawaites, Sufis and non-Salafi Sunnis out of hand as heretics.

      So no, “Muslims” do not support them. Fatwas have been issued stating that ISIS has put itself outside the community of Believers.

    5. Wim Laven says:

      The ignorance in this comments section is appalling. Islam absolutely does not endorse or approve of these acts. “The most explicit condemnation came from Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the group representing 57 countries, and 1.4 billion Muslims.
      In a statement, he officially denounced the “forced deportation under the threat of execution” of Christians, calling it a “crime that cannot be tolerated.” The Secretary General also distanced Islam from the actions of the militant group known as ISIS, saying they “have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence.”’…/worlds_muslim…/1103410

  5. Vicki Gray says:

    This is truly horrific and calls for urgent action. Archbishop of Canterbury Welby and Pope Francis are to be commended for their strong statements in that regatd, as is President Obama for his strong action.

    Canon White says “We need two things: prayer and money.” We know to whom we must direct our prayers. To whom should we most effectively direct our money?

    And, in our prayers, let us remember the young Americans now in harm’s way in their humanitarian mission of preventing genocide and the new Christian martyrs of Iraq, among them, young Andrew.

    1. Breck Breckenridge says:

      “the young Americans now in harm’s way”?
      Do you mean the U.S. soldiers who have been in Iraq since the Bush/Cheney years? Do you happen to recall the reports of American soldiers committing atrocities against the Iraqi populace? Against women and children? Breaking into people’s home? Do you remember that?

    2. Jaime Franco says:

      If you are wanting to support Canon Andrew White, you can go to this web site.

  6. William Russiello says:

    As horrible as it is, please document all atrocities as much as possible. I do not doubt this account, and it may be extremely difficult to talk about it, but it is necessary for the world to know exactly what is happening with as much veracity as possible. Pres. Obama has already ordered limited military action against ISIS, and we must now seriously examine the Christian doctrine of just war.

    1. Breck Breckenridge says:

      To Will Russiello, Hear hear!

  7. Breck Breckenridge says:

    In comparison with these people (ISIS) Saddam Hussein looks better and better and he was no angel. In many ways the blame for this state of affairs in Iraq lies firmly at the doorstep of the United States of America under the Bush/Cheney regime. But you aren’t supposed to remember that; you aren’t supposed to “connect the dots”. You are supposed to get all worked up emotionally over this ISIS group and support further bloodshed by the USA and its current bombing. The whole thing is completely and totally F.U.B.A.R. but it lies in the bloody hands of the Anglo-American power bloc.

    1. Bruce Blom says:

      Breck, you appear to have your information from a bad source, Bush/Cheney always said the was WMD’s in Iraq. everyone laughed when none were found. Bush was a laughing stock. BUT ISIS has recently over run the military base were the WMD’s were stored being deemed to dangerous to destroy. Stored in two Giant Concrete bunkers. ISIS broke into these bunkers and have reportedly already used chemical weapons on a village in northern Iraq. so it appears Bush was correct then when the descion was made that the WMD’s would not be announced to the world he wore the ridicule. Obama on the other hand knew of the WMD’s and still pulled the troops out that were protecting the bunkers. relying on CCTV and loud speakers to warn away anyone who got near. Obama has been supplying ISIS with weapons through the free syrian army. ISIS use american bushmaster rifles not AK47’s. so to lay this at the feet of Bush/Cheney is a little bit of a mistruth.

    2. Julian Sardor says:

      Do you mean the “Bush/Cheney regime” that had the nearly unanimous backing of Democrats in the U.S. Congress, plus the support of a coalition of FORTY-EIGHT SOVEREIGN NATIONS who voluntarily joined together in response to Sadam Hussein’s utter contempt for the United Nation’s repeated disarmament and inspection mandates? The same Sadam who used chemical weapons against his own people? The same Sadam who’s air force repeatedly attacked his own people until the evil United States Air force provide air cover – for years – to prevent their slaughter? Is THAT the Sadam Hussein we’re talking about here?

      Are we “not supposed to remember” these actual FACTS? Would we – would the world – be better off if instead we simply stuffed our heads full of ignorant anti-Bush and anti-American propaganda?

    3. Rita yalda says:

      I am Iraqi Christian and I Agree on every word you have written! Thank you!

    4. Adam Boyd says:

      Breck, you seriously need to examine your sense of justice and reason. Are you REALLY comparing political moves and “breaking into people’s homes” to public glorification of mutilating children? There is something a lot more serious than politics going on here and I would appreciate it if you would have respect for life.

  8. Newland F. Smith, 3rd says:

    Late this afternoon there was a rally and press conference at Federal Plaza in Chicago about the beginning of US bombing in Iraq this rally was co sponsored by several organizations including 8th Day Center for Justice and the Anti-War Committee — Chicago of which I am a member. The call issued at the press conference was that one cannot bomb one’s way to peace. The United States as a result of its invasion and occupation of Iraq has already resulted in the loss of some one million Iraqi lives. Diplomacy, not more bombs is disparately called for.

    1. Robert Coates says:

      Is that what that was? I work in the Chase Tower and saw the march below our windows. I thought it was the annual immigration march.

      I have great trepidation of conflating ISIS’ war of terror against Iraq’s tiny Christian community with the ongoing Palestinian tragedy. We should strive on the side of life and freedom against terror and oppression, wherever that lies. The Palestinian civilians being decimated by Israeli weapons of mass destruction are brothers in martyrdom with the Iraqi Christians being slaughtered by ISIS guerrillas.

    2. Jeffrey Cox says:

      What is the diplomatic posture for ISIS?

    3. Mary Jo Johnson says:

      The ISIS do not respond to diplomacy. You are naive if you think diplomacy is the answer to this. These people are not humane and diplomacy will not work.

    4. Michael Eslick says:

      “Diplomacy, not more bombs is disparately called for”
      Yea, sure. Are you going to buy a ticket, fly over and talk rationally with ISIS ?
      They are NOT rational people. They are blood thirsty animals. Did you not read at the beginning of this posting about the 5 year old child who was cut in half when ISIS took over the village ?
      Does that sound like a rational group of folks with which to talk diplomacy ?
      Go ahead and book a flight over there and let us know how it works out.
      Oh, and if you have a family be sure to take them with you since you are so sure things can be settled diplomatically with ISIS.

  9. The Rev. Dr. Charles H. Morris says:

    To Vickie: Click on the last word (“here”) in the report about Archbishop Welby’s statement for a link to the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, with which Canon White is connected. I have just donated to it. Episcopal Relief and Development — ER-D.ORG — might be another good recipient of funds for this. And of Course UNICEF, CARE, etc.

    I do not think it appropriate at this time, with such a desperate humanitarian crisis and genocide going on over there for folks to comment here with political attacks against our government, past or present. We need to pray and give to help relieve the suffering and prevent further genocide.

  10. The Rev. Dr. Charles H. Morris says:

    Corrections: The link (“here” — in blue) is at the end of this article. And Vicki, I ‘m sorry I misspelled your name.

  11. Claire Thomson says:

    I fall asleep praying for these poor people and they are my waking thought – at least I can sleep in the comfort of my own bed. It is so indescribably awful. I’ve seen the photographs and am very disturbed by them. I will give too – prayer and gift. Is Open Doors a good charity for this also?


  12. Julian Malakar says:

    Why did Muslims bring Christians into Islamic politics? America attacked Afghanistan and Iraq for America’s national interest to protect our lives from terrorists. There is nothing to do with Christianity, while protecting America’s national interest. Power of ISIS cannot be understated. Islamic State’s ultimate dream is to hoist flag of their Allah on top of White House as CNN reported. There is no scope of taking threat of ISIS lightly. ISIS is well funded with Saudi petro dollar to establish kingdom of their Allah around the world and they have no shortage of man power for suicide bombing. What did minority Christians of Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan etc. do to majority Muslim in their countries? Why would Christian of those countries be sacrificing lamb for Muslims’ barbaric terrorism? Those questions must be answered by those who are against American Air strike against ISIS. May God protect us from barbaric terrorists!

    1. Tabitha Croucher says:

      As far as the Muslims are concerned, because America is purportedly a ‘Christian nation,’ then any actions America takes must be what Christianity is about. They can’t really comprehend the idea of either a separation of Church and State, or the concept that we are called to submit to the governing authorities – not to dominate them. So, like it or not, Christians around the world WILL suffer as a result of ‘the name of Christ [being] blasphemed among the Gentiles because of [America].’

      And in some ways, they don’t see a distinction between America and ‘Christianity,’ in part because a great many (particularly Conservative) Christians in this country don’t really see it either. There are too many people (people I love, but who I believe are wrong) who think that the best way to serve Christ is to promote the cause of American Patriotism. Let us pray that God turns our hearts to HIM. We can still BE Americans, but when we try to be religiously patriotic Americans, then we are false prophets, proclaiming a lie in the name of Christ. Little wonder that those in other lands who also worship Him suffer for our sins, for our idolatry.

  13. D. H Preacher says:

    fyi: “10 Reasons Why George W. Bush and America Should NOT Be Blamed”. Since the allegation has been made above, I think it only fair to include this rebuttal. LARRY ELDER video & audio. Primer on Iraq, to recommend, and study!

  14. graham keelan says:

    The problem is with Islam, PERIOD – its theology and ideology. Islamic brutality between Sunni and Shia has existed for 1400 years over their claims of who are the true guardians of the message of the prophet of allah. In times past the European colonial powers and thereafter the strongmen of the Middle East – who the West have systematically eliminated – were able to keep a lid on them. Now that those restraints have been removed…? Furthermore for the first time in their civilisation the Islamic world has weapons available to it which can wreak global terror. These grand follies into the Middle East by the Western powers – France and Britain created 5 new countries in the first half of the last century (the ones going up in flames as we speak) and stoked Arab nationalism in their goal to see the downfall of the Ottoman Empire – started a hundred years ago and continued at the beginning of this century, although well intentioned have come back to haunt us. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well the Middle East today truly has become the blood-soaked, corpse ridden road paved all the way to hell. I repeat: the problem is Islamic theology and ideology (the Egyptians tried Islamic Democracy for a year and preferred to go back to a military government.) But in this ecumenical and interfaith world this is the deceit which dare not speak its name.

  15. Kelsey Pasquarell says:

    Cannon Andrew White, You came to visit us at Truro in VA a few years ago, and somehow, in the midst of recounting all of the persecution your congregation faced, you burst into song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” That has stuck with me all this time, and I pray that you can still do that. God’s plan and great love is incredible, and he holds you and your congregation in his hands. Although it feels like we are losing a war, remember, the victory has already been won. You and your flock belong to Jesus, and none can harm you in any way that truly matters. My heart is so full for your sorrow, but know that God is with you in the valley of the shadow of death. Let His rod and staff comfort you.

  16. Pat Henry says:

    I would like to know why the liberals blame America for what ever happens in the world. We have stepped out of the world stage because your man Obama wants us to have a small footprint. Now look at what has happened, oh yes you are still blaming Bush. These monsters understand strength and weakness.And they sense weakness in our leadership.. I don’t think most liberals would know evil until if came up and shot them in the face. America wake up!

  17. Constance Morgan says:

    I have NO money to send but my prayers go to you all and the grief stricken parents of this child. I’m so very sorry i can’t do more. I wish I could.

  18. Pat Henry says:

    Ok, shot them in the foot.

  19. Michael Grear says:

    As Christians, we must always work for peace, but when it is not an option for our enemies and they attack us; reluctantly, we are forced to fight. Think of the hundred of thousands of Christian soldiers who gave their lives in World War II to fight the scourge of Fascism to save our freedoms. Islamic Fundamentalists are just as evil. They do not support our values and do not accept Christians have a right to live, let alone practice our faith in peace. The sooner the Church realizes it is under attack worldwide from Islamists, the Church will support the defense of the Church through military means. Do we want this…no, of course not…but it WILL be forced on us! Israelis understand this all too well.

  20. John Fisher says:

    I am English and I say what are you doing spreading your corrupted English version of Protestantism in Iraq? You have no place there! The death of this child is a tragedy and real shock. You don’t belong in Iraq. Let the apostolic Churches of Iraq spread the gospel not you corrupted sect!

  21. Susan Farrugia says:

    We pray and pray, I am a Maltese Catholic-we are all in this together, shoulder to shoulder in Christ Jesus praying for our brothers and sisters. May the Lord’s precious blood soak these people in his protection – as Christians we look to Christ Our Lord and Saviour. God bless you all.

  22. Catherine Avero says:

    The UN must do something this cannot go on. Our children, our future are being taken away.
    Religion is something to cherish, to live our life by, not an excuse to kill.

  23. Andrew buckett says:

    These are evil living beings may we stamp out this barbaric religion this is pure evil

  24. Karen Osler says:

    Make sure you use Charity Navigator to make sure your dollars are used wisely. Can someone list companies fiscally responsible for those of us who want this to go to the boots on the ground efforts. Not administration? Thanks.

  25. KevinAtkinson says:

    Prayer is the way To go, as well as bringing these atrocities to the knowledge of all people and calling our governments to take action. But I call you all to remember Christs own words, forgive. Not a popular thing to say I’m sure and far to easy for myself to say, here in England. But please do remember it when thinking of action taken in Christs name.
    I hold all the Christians suffering in my heartfelt prayers and I pray for protection from such horrors accorded to the children of God by other children of a God.

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