Published: 09:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 31 January 2012
Church leader martyred while helping wounded parishioner in Syria
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria
Syrian Christians have hailed as a martyr a 30-year-old church leader who was gunned down as he rushed to the aid of a parishioner wounded amid heavy fighting in Hama.
Basilios Nassar was shot in the chest and right armpit by anti-government rebels last Wednesday (25 January) as he gave medical assistance to the man, who had also been shot.
Another church leader who was with Basilios dragged him to a nearby building in an attempt to save his life. But he was bleeding heavily and died within 30 minutes.
Basilios, who led the church in his home village of Kfarbaham, near Hama, had received a phone call asking him to help a parishioner who had been injured in the neighbourhood of Jarajima. It was the second day of heavy fighting between government troops and rebels in Hama.
Basilios had been ordained after receiving a Master’s degree in Theology from Balamand University in Lebanon. Basilios, who was formerly known as “Mazin”, was also a teacher of Byzantine music at a school that he had founded.
Around 100 Christians have been killed in Syria since the anti-government unrest began eleven months ago. The community has also been beset by a series of kidnappings; children are being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim.