Sport and Terrorism: Christians, Soccer and Kidnapping in Baghdad, Iraq by Robert Mertzman , University of South Florida
Father Saad Sirop Hanna is a Chaldean priest and Pastor at Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Baghdad. He uses soccer to help bring together Muslim and Christian youth for mutual understanding and tolerance. Sport has a long history of bringing together adversaries and advancing social issues, but the story of Father Saad is special. Father Saad was kidnapped by Muslim extremists August 15, 2006, bound and blindfolded for 26 days, and threatened with assassination almost every day. Father Hanna was kidnapped in the Iraqi capital after celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Mary. Pope Benedict XVI and Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Emmanuel publicly made appeals for his release.
In this presentation we explore how sport can contribute to peace in society. We see parts of my video interview with Father Hanna where he recounts his kidnapping, the bombing of his church, the dangers of religious war and the details of his sports program for bringing together youth in Baghdad. We close with an attempt to understand sport in context in international society.