No, they are trying to kill you

July 26, 2016


Tom Gross writes:

As you have probably heard (but maybe not, since at the present time, this story is quite far down the New York Times homepage), there was another particularly horrific Islamist attack in France today. An 84-year-old priest was beheaded in church as he said mass, in a carefully orchestrated attack that Isis has claimed responsibility for. Another hostage is fighting for his or her life in hospital. (Two nuns were among those held hostage in the attack.)

The two knifemen, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” and giving a sermon at the altar in Arabic, forced the 84-year-old priest to kneel as they slit his throat while filming it on camera.

You can see various photos and videos and read more here.

French President Francois Hollande said Islamists were trying to “divide us”. But as various people have said: No, they are trying to kill you (unless you convert to their brand of Islam and join their cause).

I attach an article from The Catholic Herald. But the headline is not quite right: there is one small country in the Middle East where Christians find sanctuary and ironically it is that country – Israel – that many European churches are voting to boycott, as Paul Gross (no relative) points out.

Below that, I attach a letter published in today’s New York Times correcting that paper’s misapprehension about the causes of terrorism.



A priest is slaughtered at Mass in rural France. This is what life is like for Christians in the Middle East
By Damian Thompson
The Catholic Herald (UK)
Tuesday, 26 July 2016

For Catholics and other Christians in the Middle East, the atrocity at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray is far from unimaginable

An 84-year-old priest has had his throat cut by an Islamic fanatic while saying Mass in a church in Normandy. For people in the West, this is a scene of almost unimaginable horror. Catholics in particular will be revolted and profoundly disturbed by a bloody killing perpetrated during the act of holy sacrifice around which our faith is built.

Catholics in the West, that is. For Catholics and other Christians in the Middle East, the atrocity at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray is far from unimaginable. They have been living with this sort of terror for years, while Western politicians and the liberal commentariat looked away.

If I were to mention the Baghdad church massacre of October 31, 2010, how many of them would know what I was talking about? Come to that, how many Catholics are familiar with the details?

On that Sunday evening, Mass in the Syrian Catholic church of Our Lady of Salvation was cut short by Islamist gunmen who took the congregation hostage, screaming: “All of you are infidels… we will go to paradise if we kill you and you will go to hell.”

One priest, Fr Thaer Abdal, was shot dead at the altar. In total, 58 innocent people were murdered. Their killers were members of an Iraqi faction of Al-Qaeda that had declared war on churches, “dirty dens of idolatry”, and in particular “the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican”.

The Baghdad massacre was one of countless atrocities that have reduced ancient Christian communities in the Middle East to shrivelled and terrified ghettoes or underground churches.

They know – even if Western public opinion does not – that Christianity in itself is among the most hated of all the targets of Islamic terrorist groups. For jihadis, the Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus is an affront that justifies the brutality of the Dark Ages.

The slitting of a priest’s throat in the sanctuary of a church – how hollow that word “sanctuary” now sounds in the context – brings those Dark Ages to rural France.

According to the Archbishop of Rouen the dead priest was 84 years old. This is not as surprising as it sounds, given the decayed state of the Church in France, which forces many clergy to extend their ministry into their ninth decade.

The poor priest had spent a very long life serving his Lord; now it has ended in death for Him. This may seem an inappropriate thing to say, but I wonder if the blood of a martyr spilt on an altar so close to home will finally awake Christendom from its torpor.



To the Editor:
New York Times
July 26, 2016

Re “Which Attackers Are ‘Terrorists’?’’ (front page article, July 18):

It is unfortunate that this otherwise thoughtful analysis repeats (several times) the new favored explanation by Western terrorism analysts that those who self-radicalize and commit acts of violence on behalf of the global jihad are mostly just “unstable people who are at the end of their rope,” or “social misfits” on the “fringes of society,” all simply looking to die “for a cause.”

In fact, for every attacker who was a “social misfit,” there’s a popular college student like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers. And for every one who came from the “fringes of society,” there are successful professionals like Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army doctor who assaulted Fort Hood, or members of a privileged elite, like the young Bangladeshis who committed a massacre at a cafe in Dhaka this month.

And far from being “deranged,” in most cases (including the ones just mentioned), the attackers clearly, and cogently, explain the geopolitical rationale for their actions.

I recognize that it may be frightening for Westerners to believe that “normal” people may be inspired and radicalized by ISIS and other jihadi groups. But that is actually the very definition of terrorism: calculated violence carried out in the name of a political movement.

Stuart Gottlieb
New York


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