- Catholic Press Association Book Award: Faithful Citizenship/Religious Freedom, First Place
- Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award: Religion
How do we respond in the face of evil, especially to those who inflict grave evil upon us? Abducted in Iraq is Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna’s firsthand account of his abduction in 2006 by a militant group associated with al-Qaeda. As a young parish priest and visiting lecturer on philosophy at Babel College near Baghdad, Fr. Hanna was kidnapped after celebrating Mass on August 15 and released on September 11. Hanna’s plight attracted international attention after Pope Benedict XVI requested prayers for the safe return of the young priest.
The book charts Hanna’s twenty-eight days in captivity as he struggles through threats, torture, and the unknown to piece together what little information he has in a bid for survival. Throughout this time, he questions what a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq means for the future, as well as the events that lead the country on that path. Through extreme hardship, the young priest gains a greater knowledge both of his faith and of remaining true to himself.
This riveting narrative reflects the experience of persecuted Christians all over the world today, especially the plight of Iraqi Christians who continue to live and hold their faith against tremendous odds, and it sheds light on the complex political and spiritual situation that Catholics face in predominantly non-Christian nations. More than just a personal story, Abducted in Iraq is also Hanna’s portrayal of what has happened to the ancient churches of one of the oldest Christian communities and how the West’s reaction and inaction have affected Iraqi Christians. More than just a story of one man, it is also the story of a suffering and persecuted people. As such, this book will be of great interest to those wanting to learn more about the violence in the Middle East and the threats facing Christians there, as well all those seeking to strengthen their own faith.
"Abducted in Iraq is Saad Hanna’s riveting account of his captivity in Iraq among Muslim extremists. The story Hanna tells will leave readers breathless. He recounts how his captors seized him from his car in Baghdad, tortured him, and repeatedly demanded that he convert to Islam. Through it all Hanna held courageously to his Christian faith, and refused stubbornly to hate his captors. By the end of Abducted in Iraq readers will not only be inspired, they will also gain a new sense of compassion for those who suffer from religious violence." —Gabriel Said Reynolds, author of The Emergence of Islam: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective
"Father Hanna’s gripping and gut-wrenching descent into the terrors of violent Islamic extremism is masterfully crafted, spell-binding, and deeply disturbing. Confronted with intense pressure to abandon his faith, this courageous young Iraqi priest not only refuses to do so, but also refuses to succumb to hatred of his oppressors. Above all else, this is an inspirational witness to the power of Christian hope and love in the face of unspeakable evil." —Kent R. Hill, Executive Director, Religious Freedom Institute
“Bishop Hanna’s testimony and story deserves to be read by anyone who has ever wondered how they would react if they were kidnapped, tortured, told to abjure their faith, and faced likely death. It should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in the violence and hatred that has disfigured Iraq and that now disfigures Syria. It should be read by anyone interested in the widely dishonoured Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—born in the ashes of Auschwitz, and which asserts our right to freedom of religion or belief. And it should be read by anyone who feels they need to be better informed about the ancient churches of the Middle East and the existential threat that these Christians face.” —David Alton, professor emeritus, John Moore's University, Independent Life Peer of the British House of Lords
"The nearly month-long ordeal in 2006 of Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna, as he was brutalized by jihadists and was confronted with the constant threat of being killed, prefigured the plight of many thousands of the bishop’s fellow Chaldean faithful and members of other ancient Christian communities as ISIS conquered northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. The bishop’s suffering, survival, and ultimately enduring faith make for a heart-rending read; it is also a call to action for the world community to ensure that in the post-ISIS that Iraq’s Christians—and Christians throughout the Middle East—will be afforded full religious freedom and security." —George J. Marlin, author of Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy
"Writing with journalist Aris, Catholic priest Hanna opens up about the 27 days he was held captive in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2006. His first-person account begins with being waylaid while driving down a Baghdad street. He was quickly blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken captive while his abductors negotiated a ransom and tried, sometimes with violent beatings, to convert him to Islam. His plight garnered international attention when Pope Benedict XVI publicly appealed for his release. . . . The book is poignant in describing and lamenting the destruction of Iraqi culture." —Publishers Weekly
“'Kafir! Kafir!' That was the word, meaning infidel or believer, the Muslim extremists shouted as they repeatedly beat Father Hanna in a futile attempt to force him to convert to their faith. In his memoir, Abducted in Iraq, Father Hanna provides a moving account of his treatment in captivity by this group from August 15, 2006, to his release on September 11. . . . As he refused to relent under ever more torturous treatment, Hanna became convinced that his ordeal could end only with his death." —Catholic Library World
"Bishop Hanna varies the pace well between the rapid, intrusive violence and long periods of isolation and reflection, in which his deep spirituality comes to the fore. His recollections are philosophical, elegantly expressed, and colored not with bitterness but with incomprehension and an unselfconscious courage. He humanizes his captors as much as he can manage." —Sight Magazine
"Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna, head of the Chaldean Christian community in Baghdad, was abducted by Muslim extremists in 2006, and held and tortured for 28 days. He is a philosopher, and this memoir clearly reflects that aspect of a man who grew up living side-by-side with Muslims, when nobody thought that that was anything other than normal. So the destruction of Iraq and the decimation of the Christian community grieves him utterly. . . . He urges looking beyond ethnicity, creed, culture, and religion; connecting on the level of shared humanity.” —Church Times
"Abducted in Iraq is a gripping account of profound faith, authentic courage and hope against all odds. Not surprisingly, the priest's cruel confinement led him to ponder life's ultimate questions, like love's meaning, God's presence and action, and goodness itself." —The Catholic Missourian
"Bishop Hanna's story is one of self-discovery, deepening faith, and an eye-opening reality to the plight of numerous Christians in the Middle East. . . . the situation of these Christians is often ignored and marginalized for political reasons. We are attesting to the potential end of one of the most ancient populations and religious traditions in the world. The Apostolic tradition of the Church of the East, Chaldean and Assyrian tradition, and its theological and spiritual richness is at risk. The world needs to see and to listen to the voice of this suffering church." —Word on Fire Blog