ICC Note: The killing of a French priest this week points to the long suffered discrimination experienced by Christians in the Middle East. This type of intimidation and terror is nothing new, though it has finally reached Europe. Below outlines just a few of the events experienced by Middle East Christians from radical Islamic terrorists. From ISIS to hate filled neighbors in Egypt.
07/27/2016 Lebanon (Wall Street Journal): The attack on a French church signals the arrival in Europe of a type of intimidation long familiar to Christians in the Middle East, whether from religious extremists, other armed groups or even secular governments.
In areas of Syria and Iraq under its control, Islamic State has seized churches, dismantling crucifixes and vandalizing paintings depicting scenes out of the Bible—considered to be idolatry in their hard-line interpretation of Islam. Many Christians flee when the militants sweep their areas; thousands escaped from northern Iraq when Islamic State took over in summer 2014.
Its branch in Libya killed 21 Egyptian Christians and 31 Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians in two separate massacres last year, slitting their throats and recording their deaths for Islamic State propaganda, which highlighted their religion as justification for the slaughter.
Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, Sinai Province, in late June claimed the shooting death of a Christian priest in the north Sinai city Al Arish. The group said the priest was targeted for being a “disbelieving combatant.” It has attacked hundreds of police and military personnel in the area since 2014.
Egypt’s Coptic Christians have long claimed they are treated as second-class citizens by the country’s secular but authoritarian governments, and peaceful protests against discrimination have been met with brutality by security forces, resulting in dozens dead and injured.
There also have been attacks by other extremist groups and unknown actors in Syria and Iraq.
Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit priest who lived in Syria for three decades, went missing in 2013 in the city of Raqqa, shortly after it was captured by Islamic State. His fate remains unclear.
In 2014, 13 Syrian nuns and other women captured by al Qaeda-linked rebels and released three months later in exchange for a hefty ransom. They had been abducted from their monastery in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, north of the Syrian capital Damascus.
When claiming attacks across Europe in recent months, Islamic State has claimed they targeted “Crusaders”—a reference to Christian armies that battled Muslims in the Middle Ages, used to denote Western intervention in the Mideast—and members of the U.S.-led military coalition striking its positions, rather than citing specific religious motives.