Bernard Lewis famously said about religious intolerance “I’m right, you’re wrong, go to hell”. Terrorist groups seem to be listening.
ARISH, EGYPT — What is it about religion that brings out the very best, and the very worst, in people? Belief in a higher being or a moral code can lead to incredible acts of kindness and sacrifice. Think of Mother Theresa and her work with the poor in India.
On the other hand, some truly disgusting and heinous acts of violence have been perpetrated by those who claim to be acting ‘in the name of _____’ (fill in the blank with whatever deity you wish). I wrote about this in some detail in my latest book When Religion Kills.
Of all the so-called religious violent extremist groups out there, and there are many, none appear to be as obsessed with targeting other religions as the jihadis – Islamist terrorists. Their words and deeds are full of references to the kuffar: the unbelievers. They have no compunction at all in killing and maiming those who happen to worship another god.
Interestingly, their hatred for anything that does not kowtow to their narrow, twisted malinterpretation of Islam extends to the ‘ahl al-kitab‘. This Arabic phrase refers to the ‘people of the book’ and refers to Jews and Christians who follow the same prophetic tradition as Islam. In normative Islam these two are seen as separate and, if not quite equal, respected.
The jihadis do not appear to have noticed.
The number of times where Islamist terrorists have singled out Jews and Christians is too high to count. Today’s featured attack is a good example. On this day in 2016 the Egyptian branch of Islamic State, IS in the Sinai, claimed the shooting of a Coptic Christian priest named Moussa Azmy in the city of Arish. He was shot in the head while in the street and IS in the Sinai said they had killed him as he was a ‘warrior against Islam’.
Islamic State soldiers were able to successfully target the priest Moussa Azmi, known as Rafael, who fights Islam.
I am not sure which is the worst part of this attack, the fact that a man was shot in the head while walking down the street, or that a priest was killed because a bunch of wankers saw him as an anti-Islamic ‘warrior’ or because IS thinks it is carrying out God’s plan. Actually all three aspects are disgusting.