Human rights observers discovered an empty grave outside of Jerusalem where an apparently innocent man was executed several days ago. The killing has all of the classic marks of the continual cycle of religious based violence in the Middle East.
The executed man was a carpenter from the border area between Israel and Lebanon. He was the first born son of teenage girl with no father who grew up in obscurity until the age of 30. He began a pietistic religious order after being baptized in the Jordan River by an eccentric preacher. Religious authorities were continually baffled by both his words and actions. His religious order was popular in the villages of Palestine, but despised by most urban religious authorities.
Local village leaders have noted that he had a particular fondness for the most vulnerable of society such as women, children, and refugees. He was frequently in trouble with the police for his close association with prostitutes and corrupt government officials. It is also reported that he practiced faith healing.
His message was one of the oddest in modern Middle Eastern politics. He claimed to be a Prince and King, but repeatedly refused to take up arms. Several months before his execution a militia of over 5,000 men approached him in hopes that he would lead them to a military victory over oppressive authorities.
On Thursday of this past week, he was kidnapped by the military wing of religious fanatics. The performed a mock trial, severally tortured him, and finally executed him on Friday. His followers have been completely scattered in the aftermath.
He was buried in a grave outside Jerusalem. To preserve the evidence for human rights inspectors a detachment of soldiers was assigned to guard the grave. However, upon inspectors reaching the grave site it has been found empty.
Accounts vary about the possible location of the body.
(From Monitor FM, 2004, "Did You See The News This Weekend?)