Belfast Telegraph

Christians under attack from militant Muslims need help

By Alf McCreary

One of the most harrowing images last week was that of Egyptian Coptic Christians being paraded along a Libyan beach in orange boiler suits before being decapitated by their militant Islamic captors.

Around the same time, another group of Christians were taken into the desert and shot dead. Their monstrous killers alleged that these men had died because they had failed to renounce Christianity and to embrace Islam.

Later in the week, the authorities in Ethiopia claimed that the Coptic Christians who had been killed were waiting to cross the Mediterranean like hundreds of other hapless migrants.

This recurring tragedy was also highlighted by the deaths of hundreds of unfortunate people who perished when a migrant vessel capsized.

There was the other horrific story about 12 Christians who were thrown overboard by Muslims because one was praying to God for help, and apparently they were targeted because of their religion.

All these events seem far away because the UK is so engrossed in one of the most self-serving election campaigns I can recall, when so many politicians and people are looking to their own interests, rather than to the good of the country at large.

However, last week's Libyan massacres and migrant deaths are not so far away in this age of swift travel. I watched the BBC World news in my holiday hotel in Lanzarote that was probably less than a two-hour flight across the Sahara to Libya, and I felt uneasily close to the immense suffering taking place not so far away.

My short holiday also gave me an opportunity to catch up on my book-list, and I had an opportunity to read a remarkable book by EH Gombrich titled A Little History Of The World, which has become an international bestseller.

I bought it recently on a trip to London, partly because of the rave reviews from the critics, and I soon discovered that it is one of those history books for young people which is written in a scholarly and flowing style that is also attractive to busy adults who welcome some potted, but authoritative, history.

On the evolution of Islam, the author outlines briefly the story of Muhammed who developed from being a prophet in his own country to become the founder of one of the world's great religions.

His story is as improbable to Christians and non-believers as the story of Christ is to Muslims. However, Gombrich emphasised starkly one of the main points about Muhammed's teaching is that all "infidels" must be destroyed if they do not convert to Islam.

What many people today forget, or do not realise, is that the militant Muslims conquered large parts of the known world by the early eighth century, and were only stopped from conquering all of Europe by a determined leader of the Franks called Charles Martel, or Charles "The Hammer".

So the holy conquest by militant Islam that threatens us all today is nothing new.

A century ago this month the Armenian Christians experienced the beginning of a wipe-out by the Muslim Ottoman Empire, which Pope Francis has rightly described as "genocide", which has currently infuriated the Turkish Government.

So we need to be continually aware of the threat facing us - which makes it even more sad to find so many rows empty among our Churches which is no credit to Christianity.

Belfast Telegraph

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