If you follow issues of human rights and religious freedom abroad, you will surely recall the recent incident in which the Islamic State released that video showing the execution of 20 Egyptian Coptic believers and one Ghanian man whose identity is harder to pin down. All have been declared martyrs for the faith.
Readers may also recall that there was a bit of controversy when the public statement about this tragedy released by the White House, speaking for President Barack Obama, merely condemned the "despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Egyptian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens."
Citizens? The Islamic State executioners had been very specific in saying that their victims were chosen because of their connection to "crusaders," the "hostile Egyptian church" and the "Nation of the Cross."
Now there is this new vision of martyrdom, as noted in quite a few mainstream reports today. This material comes from the veteran correspondent David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times foreign staff, who is known for "getting religion" in the world around him:
The Islamic State released a video on Sunday that appears to show fighters from affiliates in southern and eastern Libya executing dozens of Ethiopian Christians, some by beheading and others by shooting.
Prefaced by extensive speeches and interviews that appear to take place in the Islamic State’s strongholds in Syria and Iraq, the footage of the killings, if confirmed, would be the first evidence that the group’s leaders in those countries are coordinating with fighters who have taken up the group’s banner in those parts of Libya, compounding fears of its expansion across the Mediterranean.
Try to miss the religious content in this passage:
Masked fighters lead a row of bound captives dressed in black into the desert and then shoot each of the prisoners in the back of the head. Another group of masked fighters leads a row of prisoners in orange jumpsuits along a beach and then beheads each of them with a long knife, placing the severed heads on the bodies lying on the sand in bloody surf.
“You will not have safety even in your dreams, until you accept Islam,” declares a masked figure, speaking English with an American accent, pointing a revolver toward the camera. “Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood.”
At this point, I don't have much to add to the coverage. However, I wanted to underline, for GetReligion readers, the top of a new analysis by veteran religion-beat specialist John L. Allen, Jr., of Crux -- the author of a 2013 book entitled "The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution."
Here is my question: When Allen refers to a "climate of denial" in the following passage, in what settings do you think this denial is most prominent?
Though it seems almost perverse to seek a silver lining in the rise of ISIS, nevertheless there actually is one. It has at least put an end to a longstanding climate of denial that violent anti-Christian persecution around the world is a genuine, and mounting, human rights menace.
The point is not that Christians deserve special privileges, or that they’re the only ones at risk. It’s rather that for a long time, the threats they face couldn’t penetrate Western consciousness, where the typical American or European is more accustomed to thinking of Christians as the authors of religious persecution rather than its victims.
The White House? Maybe. The U.S. State Department? Most certainly.
But how about many elite and mainstream newsrooms? Is it safe to say that the Islamic State is in the process of killing the "blind spot" many journalists have shown on this issue?
Has ISIS killed that blindness at last?
Lord have mercy.