The Monks of Tibhirine by John Kiser
Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria

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"The inspiration for the major motion picture "Of Gods and Men" A true story of Christian love set against political terrorism in contemporary Algeria.

In the spring of 1996, militants of the Armed Islamic Group, today affiliated with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, broke into a Trappist monastery in war-torn Algeria. Seven monks were taken hostage, pawns in a murky negotiation to free imprisoned terrorists. Two months later, the severed heads of the monks were found in a tree not far from Tibhirine; their bodies were never recovered.

The village of Tibhirine had sprung up around the monastery because it was a holy place, protected by the Virgin Mary, who is revered by Christians and Muslims alike. But after 1993, as the Algerian military government's war against Islamic terrorism widened, napalm, helicopters, and gunfire became regular accompaniments to their monastic routine.

The harmony between these Christian monks and the Muslim neighbors of Tibhirine contrasts with the fear and distrust among Algerians fighting over power and what it means to be a Muslim. Woven into the story of the kidnapping and the political disintegration of Algeria is a classic account of Christian martyrdom. But these monks were not martyrs to their faith, as preaching Christianity to Muslims is forbidden in Algeria, but rather martyrs to their love of their Muslim neighbors, whom they refuse to desert in their hour of need.


About John Kiser

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John Kiser is the author of Communist Entrepreneurs and Stefan Zweig: Death of a Modern Man. A former international technology broker, he now lives with his family in Sperryville, Virginia.
Published February 28, 2003 by St. Martin's Press. 366 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The 1996 massacre of the seven monks at the Tibhirine monastery in military-controlled Algeria was part of a radical Islamic wave that killed foreigners of all stripes simply because they weren’t Muslim.

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The New York Times

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OF GODS AND MEN Olivier Rabourdin as one of a group of Cistercian Trappist monks who are part of the life of a mountain village in Algeria in the 1990s.

Feb 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith...

Publishers Weekly

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Given the complexity of the horrific subsequent events, the thoroughly French and Algerian frame of reference (the story is well known in France) and the importance of a clear chronology in the story, this text cries out for an editor's guidance in reorganizing the narrative and clarifying it for...

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Project MUSE

Their death was a great source of sorrow for the local Muslim population and was condemned by several representatives of the Muslim world as well as by Christians.

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