Category : Terrorism

(PR FactTank) Christians faced widespread harassment in 2015, but mostly in Christian-majority countries

Christians were harassed by governments or social groups in a total of 128 countries in 2015 – more countries than any other religious group, according to the report. But there also were 2.3 billion Christians in 2015, more than any other religious group. Large populations of Christians are present in all but a few parts of the world: Roughly two-thirds of the world’s countries, for example, have Christian majorities

By contrast, smaller religious groups may not have been harassed in as many countries simply because they are not present in as many countries. For instance, because of their dense concentration in a small number of countries, 99% of Jews and Hindus lived in nations where members of their groups were harassed. And despite being one of the most geographically dispersed religious groups, 97% of Muslims lived in countries where harassment of Muslims occurred in 2015. (By comparison, 78% of Christians lived in places where Christians were harassed.)

Due in part to the large number of Christian-majority countries, Christians were actually harassed mostly in Christian-majority countries.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(CEN) Andrew Carey–We must wake up to the Islamist threat facing us

It is important to counter extremist ideas including those that are fascist, Stalinist or racist but we all know that Prevent’s real job is to tackle Islamist radicalism. Ideologies should not be banned or outlawed but they should be countered effectively, especially when they lead to criminality or terrorism.

The main terrorism that we face today is related to Islam. And the problem behind Islamist terrorism is the difficulty of certain forms of Islam in compromising with modernity, and the failure of many Muslims to come to terms with being a minority in a world that largely regards religious belief and piety as a purely private matter.

But many Muslim leaders seem surprised when questions about terrorism are put to them. These terrorists are killers and Islam bans killing therefore, they reason, the terrorists cannot be Muslims. But that is to duck the problem.

If Muslims do not tackle the issue of how terrorism arises out of the Muslim community and is fed by certain crucial theological ideas, then the ideology will never be effectively challenged. There is a sort of collective brushing under the carpet in the Muslim community that is deeply unhelpful to all of us.

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Posted in England / UK, Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

Archbp Justin Welby’s Interview with BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on the London Terrorist Attack

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has said there is “a lack of religious literacy” among some people who are tackling the terrorist threat.

“They often don’t understand the very basic doctrines of the faith they’re dealing with,” he says – and cannot put themselves “in the shoes of religious believers”.

Speaking about his own religion, Christianity, he says there has been “enormous heroism and beauty” but there has also been “a dark side” in the past.

Listen to it all (3 minutes).

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Aleteia) The Coptic martyrs of Minya: poignant accounts of their final moments

While celebrating the liturgical feast of the Lord’s Ascension into heaven, as they made their way to the monastery of St. Samuel, 200 kilometers south of Cairo, dozens of Coptic pilgrims were murdered in a bloody ambush carried out by the Islamic State.

At least 29 persons were killed, and 25 wounded, as the terrorists opened fire on the pilgrims. It was the fourth attack against Christians in Egypt since December to be claimed by the ISIS, and comes in the wake of the suicide bombing on two churches in Cairo, in early April, that killed 45 Copts.

According to several witnesses, in the case of the Minya attack everything seems to indicate that the Egyptian Copts who were killed on Friday — many of them children — died as objective martyrs of the Faith. After robbing the pilgrims of their money, their jewels and other precious effects, witnesses say the terrorists told them to apostatize and pronounce the Islamic profession of faith: the shahada. The captives, kneeling, categorically refused. According to reports, they were immediately shot in the neck, head, throat or chest.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Terrorism

(Sky News) London attack: What happened where in eight minutes of terror

From 10.08pm, police responded to reports of a vehicle hitting pedestrians. Paramedics and specialist response teams arrived in six minutes, the London Ambulance Service said. At least 48 people were taken to five hospitals across London.

Nick Archer, who was in the London Bridge area, told Sky News: “We came out (of a bar) on to the road and looked to my left and there was a guy, I thought he was just drinking but he was lying on the floor.

“And then a couple of seconds later, about three police vans flew past. He looked in a bad way.”

A taxi driver called Chris told LBC said he saw men armed with foot-long knives after a van drove on to the pavement. He told the station: “I didn’t see the van mount the kerb, but I saw everything else….

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Posted in England / UK, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

A prayer following the London Terrorist Attack

Posted in England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism

(ABC Aus.) Anna Rowlands–The Mancunian Way: Manchester Shows How to Live Together in an Age of Terror

ISIS is very clear in its propaganda that this was an attack on a group of “Crusaders.” In fact, it was an attack on innocence, pleasure and ordinary happiness. It aimed to transform a group of gathered young people into scattered, anxious and dismembered individuals. It was intended as an epiphany of death and fear.

It is important to also understand that this was an attack on young people way beyond Manchester itself – it ripples through the cities of the North. Many of those attending the concert were pupils or students from surrounding Northern cities, Liverpool, Harrogate, Bolton, Leeds, Newcastle and Durham, and from as far away as the Hebrides. This was a particularly pernicious act among a generation of young people for whom mental health problems appear to be on the rise and where the search for places of rest, solidarity and communal pleasure are yearned for and seem oddly hard to find. To strike at the heart of these youthful desires is cruel, indeed evil – for it strikes at the heart of our desire for the good in its ordinary, mundane forms.

Given that in the aftermath of such a horrific event the focus of care and support is rightly with those who have been injured, bereaved and distressed, it can be politically unpopular to rush too quickly to address the fears and concerns of the community with whom the bomber will – fairly or unfairly – be identified. Nonetheless, I know from my work in the North East that the backlash and reprisals are often experienced disproportionately by younger, headscarf wearing Muslim women, and tend to be perpetrated by older men.

When the bombing took place in Manchester in 1996, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the City Council acted swiftly to make clear that they would not tolerate reprisals – something the Manchester Irish community were understandably fearful about. Today, that fear will be felt by another community and a generation later leaders and members of the public in Manchester need to find creative and kind ways to echo the public and private solidarity that the city’s leaders showed.

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Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Christian Today) Egypt’s Christians say they are proud to die for Jesus as ISIS continues its deadly attacks

Coptic Christians have said that they “take pride” in dying for their faith following the latest slaughterat the hands of Islamic State terrorists.

“We take pride to die while holding on to our faith,” Bishop Makarios, the top Coptic Orthodox cleric in Minya, said over the weekend, according to CBC News.

Reports have emerged revealing that IS gunmen forced Christians on their way to a monastery off a bus on Friday, where they asked them to denounce their faith and convert to Islam. The Copts, including children, refused, which led to the massacre of 29 believers, one of the chaplains comforting survivors revealed.

Thousands of Copts have been mourning the slain in the bus shooting, expressing their grief and rage at funerals for the victims.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence

(VOA) Famine Looms in Former Boko Haram Stronghold in NE Nigeria

The United Nations is warning that more than 1.4 million people in northeastern Nigeria could face famine by September because of a severe funding shortage. To date, only 28 percent of the U.N. appeal for more than $1 billion to provide humanitarian aid for nearly seven million people has been received.

Since Boko Haram militants began their armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria in 2009, the United Nations estimates more than 20,000 people have been killed, nearly two million are internally displaced inside the country, and about 200,000 have taken refuge in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Government forces have recaptured much of the territory held by Boko Haram, but the security situation remains fragile.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Nigeria, Poverty, Terrorism

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, reflects on the recent Attacks on Copts in Egypt

We find ourselves once again at a time of pain during which words seem insufficient. I have previously addressed victims of terrorist acts; I have addressed their families; I have even addressed those who may have had an opportunity, even in some small way, to advocate for or support those most vulnerable. This time however, I feel a need to address those who perpetrate these crimes.

You are loved. The violent and deadly crimes you perpetrate are abhorrent and detestable, but YOU are loved.

You are loved by God, your Creator, for He created you in His Image and according to His Likeness, and placed you on this earth for much greater things, according to His plan for all humankind. You are loved by me and millions like me, not because of what you do, but what you are capable of as that wonderful creation of God, Who has created us with a shared humanity. You are loved by me and millions like me because I, and we, believe in transformation.

Transformation is core to the Christian message for throughout history we have seen many transformed from being those who persecuted Christ Himself and Christians, to those who went on to live with grace. We believe in transformation because, on a daily basis, we are personally transformed from a life of human weakness and sinfulness to a life of power and righteousness. We believe in transformation because the whole message of the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is to take humanity from the bonds of sin and death to a liberation in goodness and everlasting life. Our world is certainly suffering from the brokenness of our humanity, but it is our responsibility, personally and collectively, to encourage and inspire ourselves, and all those whom we meet along our path, to a life of virtue and holiness, and the love and forgiveness of all.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, England / UK, Terrorism

(NYT) “The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters”–Samuel Tadros-Coptic Christians: ISIS’ ‘Favorite Prey’

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive. Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.

The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters. Coming their way were three buses, one with Sunday school children. Only three of them survived. Their victims were asked to recite the Islamic declaration of faith before being shot.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

BBC’s Beyond Belief–How Islamic is the So-Called Islamic State?

In claiming responsibility for the Paris atrocities, the so-called Islamic State described the attacks as “a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah”. Last year, when the group’s self-imposed Caliphate was declared, hundreds of Muslim leaders and scholars from across the world wrote an open letter to the self-professed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, accusing him of heinous war crimes and a violation of the fundamental principles of Islam. So how Islamic is ‘Islamic State’? Why have mainstream interpretations of Islam so far failed to provide an effective counter-narrative? What needs to happen for the group to be defeated?

William Crawley discusses the beliefs which underpin the so-called Islamic State in the light of the Paris terrorist attacks with Sheikh Dr Salah Al Ansari, an Imam, theologian and academic; Haras Rafiq, Managing Director of the anti-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation; and Dr Katherine Brown, an expert in Islamic Studies at King’s College London.

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Posted in Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Fulcrum) Colin Chapman–Christian Responses to Islamism and Violence in the name of Islam

Max Warren, General Secretary of the Church Mission Society from 1942 to 1963, used to tell a story from his time in hospital after returning from service in Nigeria with a serious illness. One day he was examined by a medical student as part of his final examinations in front of his professor. After the examination the student gave his diagnosis of Warren’s illness to the professor. Warren knew that the diagnosis was wrong. So when he saw the professor the following day, he said to him, ‘I suppose that student failed because he got the diagnosis wrong’. ‘Oh no!’ replied the professor. ‘The diagnosis was wrong. But he would have got there in the end because he asked all the right questions’.

While we have been living with Islamism for some years, the creation of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in June 2014 no doubt took all of us by surprise. And if there’s been a variety of responses among national governments, academics and journalists, there’s also been a variety of responses among Christians. So if none of us can claim to give a definitive answer to the question of how Christians should respond to Islamism and ISIS, can we at least attempt to ask some of the right questions? These would be the ten questions that I would want to ask.

(1) What do we Mean by ‘Islamism’ and How does it Differ from Other Kinds of Islam?

I hope we are past the stage of speaking about ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and are starting to use terms like ‘Islamism’, ‘political Islam’ or ‘radical Islam’. I am not talking about ordinary Muslims who may have a political agenda of one kind or another, but Muslims who have a clear agenda about creating some kind of Islamic polity. It is important to recognise, however, that Islamists are not all the same. Some believe in democracy, pluralism and human rights, while others do not. Some believe that violence is sometimes justified in pursuing an Islamic agenda, while others reject the use of violence. They all want to see Islamic principles applied in the public sphere; but they recognise the huge differences in the political make-up of states all over the world and have different ideas about how a particular state could be more Islamic….

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) We will repair damage done to our city and its people, Bishop tells Manchester

The killing of 22 people in a suicide bombing in Manchester on Monday had provoked “proper anger and rage” that must be directed into a “force for good”, the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said this week.

In the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the London bombings of July 2005, a lone attacker, Salman Ramadan Abedi, detonated an im­­provised explosive device at Man­chester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. Among those killed were children, and parents waiting to collect their children. In addition to the deaths, 59 people were injured. Many are being treated for life-threatening conditions.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced that the threat level in the UK had been raised to “critical”, indicating that a further attack might be “imminent”. For the first time since 2003, troops were being de­­ployed to join the police’s armed patrols. “It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack,” Theresa May said. On Wednesday afternoon, the Manchester police chief, Ian Hopkins, said: “I think it’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating.” Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Egypt Coptic Christians killed in bus attack

At least 23 people have been killed and 25 wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, state media report.

The incident occurred in Minya province, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo, as the bus headed to a church.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence