Libya: Islamic State Claims Killing of 30 Ethiopian Christians
Over the weekend, the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) released a video purportedly showing the killing of up to 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32373166).
“The footage depicts the brutal beheading of 15 Ethiopian Christians by masked IS militants, their blood staining the surf on a strip of beach, as well as another scene in a desert landscape where masked gunmen shoot another 15 Ethiopians in the back of the head,” reported The Guardian newspaper.
“To the nation of the cross, we’re back again…Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap. We swear to Allah… you will not have safety even in your dreams until you embrace Islam,” a masked militant said in the video before the execution.
Open Doors workers in Ethiopia report that the news of the killings accompanied by gruesome images has shocked the country. “Many people have expressed anger and frustration about the incident,” a staff member reported.
Open Doors staff in Ethiopia report that the government condemned the incident, but expressed doubt that all victims were Ethiopians. “We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians or not,” communications minister Redwan Hussein told the international news agency AFP.
In the video IS refers to the “Ethiopian Church,” but it is not clear at this stage whether all the victims were members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC). Local workers are trying to check identities to see if they can contact family members.
Although Ethiopia has been largely able to avoid the violence associated with growing Islamic extremism in countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, local workers fear that the execution of the Ethiopian Christians will complicate the religious discourse in the country and heighten tension between Muslims and members of the EOC in particular. The once relatively cordial relationship of the past turned sour following massive attacks by Muslims on EOC members and churches in Jimma in 2006 and 2011.
The Islamic State has claimed several attacks in Libya this year, including the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in February.
Open Doors is following the situation closely. “Let’s pray for the safety of Christians in the country and beyond,” requested local Open Doors workers.
Libya is ranked No. 13 on Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.