Libya (MNN) — The Islamic State terror group released another grisly propaganda video over the weekend. It was another mass execution of Christians in Libya: this time, Ethiopians.
It bears a resemblance to February’s Egyptian Christian murders.
Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives. Open Doors USA CEO David Curry says it’s possible this group of Ethiopians fell into that category. “Within Libya, you have migrant worker groups, just like when you had Egyptians who were there to work within Libya. It’s likely; we don’t know…. What we know about this incident is what ISIS has been willing to brag about thus far.”
The White House has condemned “in the strongest terms” the mass murders. But Curry says that doesn’t really go far enough. “What you have here is another example of ISIS showing that they are targeting Christians within the Middle East regions. It’s not just within the caliphate, the region of control that they set up in Iraq and Syria. It’s in Libya–it’s in anywhere where they can gain a foothold, where they’re not being resisted.”
Why target Ethiopians? Although Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian nation, Christians in Muslim areas have been reporting discrimination. The country has also drawn the ire of Islamic extremists due to military’s attacks on Somalia, which is over 99% Muslim, according to the Joshua Project.
ISIS violence in Libya is creating a reaction among moderate and non-Muslims. Curry explains, “It essentially forcing a mass exodus out of the area and has for some time now. But, you’re going to see that speed up to where you’ll have a region total devoid of Christian faith. That destabilizes the societies within the region.” He goes on to say that the ISIS strategy is straightforward. “They’re exporting their ideology, their resources to these areas, and their strategy to eliminate Christianity throughout the region.”
The response has been twofold: first, there have been government responses. After the February killings of the Coptic Christians, Egypt’s military responded with airstrikes targeting Darna, a militant stronghold. Curry notes, “The civil governments need to recognize what is happening, because right now, the United Sates government, the administration, has not even recognized that Christians are being targeted within the region.”
Curry goes on to note, “This isn’t just a failed state, it’s not just a governmental program. It is an ideology which has targeted, which has explicitly said they want to eliminate Christians.” It’s that threat that launches the second response: “I think that this is part of a plan to unsettle Christians…Christians need to be aware that there is a component here of spiritual attacks on Christians that the enemy doesn’t want us succeeding. It wants us to live in fear.”
Violence against Christians has increased in a country where rule of law is absent. Curry expects Islamic extremism to spread rapidly. What is our responsibility? Pray. “Recognize your brothers and sisters in faith are in danger. Pray that they are safe, that they can worship in freedom,” says Curry.
What else can we do? Make some noise, says Curry. “We need to pray for the American Church to wake up to what is happening, so that we will stand behind these people and let our voice be heard. The politicians don’t care, because we haven’t been heard on this subject. I think we need to let people know we care that Christians around the world are being executed. These are just the ones that we know about.”