AP NEWS

Michael Dutton: Shootings at mosques heinous, but what about other religious persecutions?

March 19, 2019

The shooting at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week was an outrage to all civilized people. Hate driven killings of anyone, let alone those choosing to worship God, cannot be tolerated by any just person or society. The News-Times has extensively covered this heinous crime thoroughly with eight articles related to the shooting in the three days following the crime.

Could we begin to see comparable coverage of crimes which are equally, if not even more, reprehensible than the Christchurch incident? Over the past decade hundreds of Coptic Christians have been murdered and burned alive in Egyptian churches with only scant coverage by The News-Times. In December of 2010 six worshippers were killed by gunmen in a Cairo church, six years later a bombing killed 25, the next year saw eight shot to death by a drive-by shooter.

In January of this year, a suspicious man was seen lurking around a nearby Coptic church. Two Muslim students reported the man to their Imam who then chased the suspect. The suspect dropped his package and escaped. In the package Egyptian police found a bomb capable of killing scores of Coptic worshipers. Throughout the past decade numerous Coptic churches have been set afire during this season holy to Christians. This has become the norm for Egypt’s Christian celebration of Christmas.

Easter fares no better; a bombing took 45 lives in 2017. Nor are the killings confined to the Cairo area. The Munia province, a few hours south of Cairo, has seen more than 50 incidents of shootings, arson, bombings and attacks on Christians over the past decade. Churches in Egypt have been set afire, their doors barricaded while the worshipers are burned alive. Unfortunately, Egypt is hardly alone.

One of the most widespread means of persecution throughout the Middle East and north Africa has been the rape of Christian women and their forced marriage to non-Christian men, essentially prohibiting the women to practice their faith. Whole families have been murdered, some beheaded, merely because they chose to worship God differently than their persecutors. In China, rewards from $15 to $1,500 are given to those who turn in members of various Christian denominations. Through all of these outrages the world has remained silent.

In a rare and welcome acknowledgment of the persecution Christians face throughout the Middle East, former Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the genocide of Christians and Yazidis in the areas then controlled by the Islamic State. Unfortunately, neither the Trump nore the Obama administration has done anything concrete to ease the persecutions.

Would it be possible for The News-Times to give some coverage to the ongoing persecutions of Christians and other religious minorities throughout the world comparable to the coverage you gave to the worshipers in Christchurch?

Michael Dutton is a resident of New Fairfield.