These stories are, of course, becoming old news.
There is another semiprofessional video modeled on trailers for entertainment media. Another image of a captive kneeling in a desert in an orange jump suit. Another Islamic State soldier, face covered, holding a knife. More bloody photos that mainstream media cannot use, yet become fodder for the dark side of social media and independent websites.
The coverage is fading, along with -- apparently -- any interest in the faith element of these stories. This time around, the key was not who ISIS killed but where, apparently, the latest victim was located at the time he was killed. The Washington Post coverage was typical of what ran in numerous publications, Here is the top of that report:
CAIRO -- An Islamic State affiliate claimed ... to have beheaded a Croatian national held hostage for weeks in what would be the group’s first killing of a foreign captive in Egypt.
If confirmed, the death would mark a fresh challenge to Egypt’s economy and the country’s effort to stem a rising Islamist insurgency that has targeted major tourist sites and military outposts.
The Croatian hostage, Tomislav Salopek, worked for a French geoscience company in Egypt, which depends on many foreign firms for construction and other major projects.
A purported photo of Salopek’s decapitated body was posted Wednesday by an Islamic State-linked Twitter account. The caption said Salopek was killed because of his country’s “war” on the Islamic State but gave no further details.
Yes, and who -- in addition to tourists -- might ISIS threaten in Egypt? At the top of the list would have to be Coptic Christians and Muslims, of various kinds, who oppose the empire-building goals of the Islamic State and its interpretation of centuries of Islamic tradition.
But note what the Post story actually said: "The caption said Salopek was killed because of his country’s “war” on the Islamic State but gave no further details."
The Post team, of course, took this as a political statement alone, adding:
Croatia has not contributed forces to operations against the Islamic State, but the State Department has said that the Balkan nation has provided unspecified military supplies.
However, looking at recent history, ISIS leaders are just as interested in the faith tradition of the nations and cultures it is fighting as in matters of economics and politics. Thus, what do we know about Croatia? Did the religious identify of Salopek and his nation play any part in his kidnapping and death?
It is interesting to note the silence of the mainstream coverage on this point.
With the exception of this Reuters video (posted above) posted at the Catholic.org news site. While not focusing directly on the faith of the victims, reporters did ask people in Croatia to react to the news of his alleged death. The first person interviewed is wearing a cross. Another is the priest at a local Catholic parish.
Relevant? Should journalists have pondered the fact that this new ISIS victim was from Croatia?
As one travel site says of this nation and its culture:
Ever heard the phrase, "More Catholic than the Pope"? It could have been written about Croatia where Catholic holidays and rituals are celebrated with enthusiasm. According to recent figures, nearly 90% of the population defines itself as Catholic, nearly 3% as Orthodox, 2.1% atheist and only 1.1% Muslim.
The Catholic religion is a defining aspect of the Croatian identity and deeply intertwined with politics. ... The Croatian independence drive was ... strongly supported by the Vatican and the country has been treated to a stream of visits by Pope Jean Paul II. The Pope's visit to Zagreb in 1998 to beatify cardinal Stepinac was greeted with wild celebrations.
The church is a highly respected institution in present-day Croatia, enough to encourage many young Croats to enter convents or the priesthood which further endears the country to the Vatican.
Relevant? I realize that, for many, tourism is more important than religious persecution. But might the Post, and others, have dedicated a bit of time to investigating this angle?