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Media Contact: Troy Augustine, Regional Manager for Africa RM-Africa@persecution.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
International Christian Concern
Militant Islamic terror group ISIS released a new video Sunday, April 19, reportedly showing the gruesome murder of 30 Ethiopian Christian men in Libya. The footage alternates between two scenes: one in northern Libya on a Mediterranean beach where 15 men were beheaded, and one in the desert in southern Libya where another 15 men were shot in the head, execution-style.
The identities of the victims have yet to be confirmed. The men were believed to have been traveling through Libya en route to Europe. Tens of thousands of African migrants have been leaving Africa via the Mediterranean Sea for Italy and other European destinations.
The narrator of the video entitled "Until There Came to Them Clear Evidence" said, "All praise be to Allah, the Lord and cherisher of the world and may peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Mohammed. To the nation of the cross, we are back again on the sands, where the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, have stepped on before, telling you: Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap."
The video bears striking similarity to one ISIS released in mid-February depicting the beheading of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians and one non-Egyptian on a Libyan beach. Experts suspect the narrator of the recent video may be the same person who spoke on the execution video in February.
The Ethiopian government has called for three days of mourning to remember and honor the victims which will begin Tuesday. Flags in the country will fly at half-staff. Qes Solomon from Ethiopian Orthodox Church told International Christian Concern (ICC), "My sorrow is beyond depression."
The White House has also condemned the murders. "We express our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Ethiopian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens," National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. She continued, "That these terrorists killed these men solely because of their faith lays bare the terrorists' vicious, senseless brutality." Ethiopian Information Minister Redwan Hussein has also called the killings "a crime against humanity."
The video further threatens Christians in the region to pay tribute to ISIS as prescribed by the Koran, or face death. "You pay with willing submission, feeling yourselves subdued. Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood, until there is no more polytheism -- and obedience becomes Allah's in its entirety," the narrator says.
ISIS considers Christianity to be a polytheistic religion because of the belief that God exists as one in three persons as the Trinity.
The Ethiopian community is saddened by the tragedy, but remains thankful that the men in the video died bearing the Name of Christ. "We are proud of our brothers. They are poor, but they gave their lives for Jesus," Helen Tamene told ICC. Tamene had formerly been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for her faith and now attends Bell of Freedom Church in Addis Ababa. "They will be honored for all time by Ethiopians," she added.
Christians all over the Middle East and Africa that live in regions where Islamic extremist groups operate continually face this kind of threat of persecution when these organizations try to impose Islamic Sharia law. Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has become a training ground and safe haven for Islamic extremists groups. The country lacks a stable central government and Islamic extremists have capitalized on the political turmoil in the country and have now once again highlighted this in a brutal film showing the execution of Christians.
ICC's regional manager for Africa, Troy Augustine, says, "ICC condemns the deplorable murder of these Ethiopian Christians by ISIS. The world should be awakened to the reality that Islamic extremist groups will stop at nothing to advance their brutal terrorist agenda, and that Christians continue to be at the center of their target. As such, ISIS represents a severe and expanding threat to the safety and security of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa."
For interviews, contact Troy Augustine, Regional Manager for Africa: RM-Africa@persecution.org
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