Father of kids taken to Syria speaks: ISIS a "rape of the true faith"

Aysha and Luca Opdam

The father of the two children, Luca and Aysha, abducted by their mother and taken to the Caliphate in Syria, wrote an "open letter to the Netherlands" in which he discusses the role of religion in this personal drama. He writes that what ISIS is doing to Islam is "a rape of the true faith".

He begins the letter by stating that, despite not being a religious person himself, he has nothing against religion. "It can be a wonderful way to find comfort, courage, a feeling of safety or to find a place for the inexplicable." he writes. The events in the past two weeks forced him to think about religion again, especially about Islam. He still believes "that the core of every religion carries good intentions."

But after the mother of his children abducted them and took them to Syria, it became clear to him that Islamic State (ISIS) uses religion to gain power. "ISIS abuses the fact that many are not able to read or comprehend what is really meant. Doubters are corrected with the sword, the knife and the Kalashnikov. Under the guise of a caliphate, where true religion can be practiced, where the Islamic religion in its purest form should exist, religion has become a monster, deformed by misguided fanatic supporters come from ninety different countries." Which is why he fears that his children, who are believed to be in the Caliphate, "will collapse under the constant wave of religious mania. Because they must be what ISIS demands that they be."

Luca and Aysha's father writes that when he speaks to Muslims in his area, they agree that "this is a nightmare on earth. A rape of the true faith." He wishes that there were more protests by Muslims against ISIS, against radicalization and the abuse of religion. He states that there have been numerous protests in Europe, but with entirely different motives. "Often directed against Islam in general and with fear as bad counselor. Europe and the US forget that they did the same thing with their expansionism and amassing colonies, often under the banner of religion, and have amassed bad blood. We are now reaping the bitter fruits."

He concludes by saying that everyone may profess the religion they want, but should not force it on others. "If my kids - if I ever get them back - want to be Muslims, that's fine. But at an age when they are able to make their own choices in full awareness." he writes. "A Christian is no better than a Muslim, a Jew no more than a Palestinian. We are all different, but essentially the same." He thinks that mutual understanding and respect are that little bit of God that everyone have within. "It does not matter whether you call it Allah, God, Yahweh or Buddha. It is about the good in people."

The full letter can be read on Dagblad De Limurger.