News round-up, 18 February
Pope Francis Condemns Islamic State’s Executions of Christians in Libya
Pope Francis on Monday (Feb. 16) denounced the brutal slayings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by militants linked to the Islamic State, saying “they were assassinated just for being Christian.”
“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out,” Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks during an audience with an ecumenical delegation from the Church of Scotland.
The pope, switching to his native Spanish, noted that those killed only said “Jesus help me.”
“Be they Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it doesn’t matter: They’re Christian! The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ,” Francis said. He said their deaths bore witness to “an ecumenism of blood” that should unite Christians, a phrase he has used repeatedly as the Islamic State continues its bloody march.
Coptic Christians Increasingly Feel Endangered in Libya and Egypt
The gruesome video released by militants from the Islamic State showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya has focused the world’s attention on the plight of Christians there and the government’s ability to respond.
But the sad truth is that Libyan Christians have long been ruthlessly targeted expressly for their faith, and the Coptic community in Egypt has been virtually powerless to help them.
The U.S. State Department estimates that 50,000 Coptic Christians live in Libya, most of whom are Egyptian. They cross the border into Libya in search of employment.
Copenhagen Reels after Deadly Shootings Surrounding Free Speech Event
Denmark continued to reel over its first double terrorist attack, trying to make sense of killings in a country that rarely sees deadly violence and where the queen and officials walk around with light security.
“We are a nation that is completely unused to such drama,” said Kirsten Stubbe-Teglbjaerg, a resident of the Danish capital.
A gunman fired multiple shots Saturday (Feb. 14) through the window of a cafe in a tony part of Copenhagen during a free speech debate, killing one man.
By Saturday evening, the gunman stood on a cafe-filled street parallel to the city’s famous mile-long pedestrian shopping street, killing a male guard at a synagogue. Hours later, a massive manhunt resulted in a shootout near a downtown subway station and the gunman’s death.