Latest Analysis and Commentary

The EU's Dangerous New Confidence Game

by Douglas Murray  •  November 20, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The first problem of the European Court of Human Rights decision against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is that it means that, at least in cases of blasphemy, truth is not a defence.

  • Such a judgement hands over the decision on what is or is not allowed to be said not to a European or national court, but to whoever can claim, plausibly or otherwise, that another individual has risked "the peace."

  • There have been similar mobster tricks tried for some years now. They all run on the old claim, "I'm not mad with you myself; I'm just holding my friend back here."

The first problem of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is that it means that, at least in cases of blasphemy, truth is not a defence. Pictured: The courtroom of the ECHR in Strasbourg. (Image source: Adrian Grycuk/Wikimedia Commons)

At the start of this decade, a minor story occurred that set the scene for the years that have followed. In 2010, a Saudi lawyer named Faisal Yamani wrote to the Danish newspapers that had published cartoons of Islam's prophet, Mohammed. Claiming to act on behalf of 95,000 descendants of Mohammed, the Saudi lawyer said that the cartoons were defamatory and that legal proceedings would thereby begin.

However, everything about the supposed legal claim reeked. How had Mr Yamani located all these descendants? How had he come up with exactly 95,000 of them? And how could you claim that a statement about somebody who died 1,400 years ago was "defamatory"? Legally, one cannot "defame" the dead.

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Turkey and US: Conflict Contained, Not Resolved

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 20, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey will not abide by the renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil and shipping industries, claiming that they are "steps aimed at unbalancing the world."

  • U.S. President Donald Trump, in the same speech in which he hailed Erdoğan as a "friend and a tough, smart man," ruled out the possibility of Gülen's extradition.

  • The future actually looks potentially gloomier as the future of Syria shapes up and Erdoğan might well switch back to more radical anti-Western rhetoric ahead of critical local elections in March.

Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recently toned down his anti-American rhetoric, things have not come up roses in U.S.-Turkey relations. Pictured: U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan deliver statements at the the White House, on May 16, 2017. (Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Only three months ago Turkey and its NATO ally the United States had too many issues about which to disagree: They had major divergences over Syria; they had different views on Turkey's plans to deploy the Russian-made S-400 air defense system on NATO soil; they had mutual sanctions on top government officials due to Turkey's refusal to free Andrew Brunson, an American evangelical Christian pastor living in Turkey who faced bogus charges of terrorism and espionage; they had a potential U.S. decision to block delivery to Turkey of arms systems, including the F-35 stealth fighter; they had potential U.S. sanctions on a Turkish public bank; the U.S. had doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium; a Turkish boycott on U.S. electronics; major differences over Syrian Kurds; and Turkey's persistent demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric who is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's political nemesis, living in self-exile in Pennsylvania.

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Palestinians Arresting Women; Where are the Media?

by Bassam Tawil  •  November 19, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Mahmoud Abbas does not want his people and the rest of the world to know that his security forces are arresting women for criticizing a social security law or providing financial aid to Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip.

  • Unlike Jbara and Marab'eh, Ahed Tamimi was lucky to be arrested by Israel. Had she been arrested by the Palestinian Authority, no one would ever have known.

  • This attitude is another example of the anti-Israel bias of the international media and community. It is yet another example of how the West gives the Palestinians a pass to violate human rights and crack down on dissent.

Last August, the Palestinian Authority (PA) protested because Israel arrested a Palestinian woman from Hebron on charges of incitement and affiliation with Hamas. The 42-year-old woman, Lama Khater, is also known as a strong critic of the President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.

Khater's scathing attacks on Abbas and his government, however, did not stop the Palestinian Authority from condemning Israel and demanding her immediate release.

This was not the first time that the Palestinian Authority has condemned Israel for arresting a Palestinian woman who voiced criticism of Abbas and his policies. Last year, the Palestinian Authority condemned Israel for arresting Khaleda Jarrar, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of several PLO terrorist groups. Jarrar was arrested by Israel for membership in a terrorist group and incitement.

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Who Gains from the US Withdrawal from the Nuclear Arms Treaty?

by Stephen Blank and Peter Huessy  •  November 19, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • Russia has violated not only the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), but, according to former senior White House nuclear arms official Frank Miller, every major arms-control agreement it has signed with the United States.

  • The same kind of deception has been characteristic of China.

  • The truth is that there is no INF arms-control regime to be saved. It is senseless to pine for a treaty that only one power -- the United States -- observes. Self-abnegation here only enables others to shoot first and make threats that the US cannot answer.

Those who warn against US withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) are forgetting the very important lesson that made it a viable tool for ending the Cold War in the first place three decades ago: what President Ronald Reagan at the time called "peace through strength." Pictured: President Reagan and the Soviet Union's General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev sign the INF in Washington, DC on December 8, 1987. (Image source: The White House)

The US renunciation of the 1987 United States-Soviet Union Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) has generated much skepticism in the arms-control community -- particularly in much of Europe, and from Japan.

These countries hoped not only to keep Russia and the United States in the 1987 treaty (despite Russia's major violations of the INF treaty), but persuade China to become a party to the treaty and thus be forced to eliminate the hundreds of INF-range missiles China has deployed in Asia and ranged against US and its allied interests.

Critics have presented the following five main arguments against the US move:

  1. It enables Russia to build as many INF missiles as it likes, while simultaneously allowing Moscow to blame Washington for reneging on the treaty.

  2. It imperils the entire structure of arms control, including the possible 2021 extension of the United States-Russia 2010 New START Treaty.

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"A Pure Genocide": Extremist Persecution of Christians, June 2018

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  November 18, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The majority of those 6,000 Christians massacred this year were "mostly children, women and the aged... What is happening in ... Nigeria is pure genocide and must be stopped immediately." — Christian Association of Nigeria.

  • "There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage." — Christian Association of Nigeria.

  • "Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church." — Christian Association of Nigeria.

  • "Just one in 400 Syrian refugees given asylum in the UK last year were Christians despite them being subjected to 'horrendous persecution.'" — Express, UK.

A Catholic priest at the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem (pictured) suffered minor injuries on June 1, when a man struck him with what appeared to be a knife. (Image source: Bashar Nayfeh/Wikimedia Commons)

The Jihad on Nigerian Christians

In what the Christian Association of Nigeria called a "pure genocide," 238 more Christians were killed and churches desecrated by Muslims throughout the month of June. This brings the death toll of Christians to more than 6,000 between January and June of 2018 alone. According to a joint statement by the Christian Association, an umbrella group of various Christian denominations, "There is no doubt that the sole purpose of these attacks is aimed at ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and forceful ejection of the Christian natives from their ancestral land and heritage." In one of the attacks, "over 200 persons were brutally killed and our churches destroyed without any intervention from security agencies in spite of several distress calls made to them."

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Sweden: What 'Humanitarian Superpower'?

by Judith Bergman  •  November 17, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Self-proclaimed "humanitarian superpower" Sweden, with its pride in upholding "human rights," decided to take a 6-year old boy, who lost his mother, away from his grandparents and deport him to an orphanage in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Sweden refuses to deport the worst criminals and terrorists if there is the tiniest perceived risk that they might be harmed in the country to which they would be sent.

  • In spite of sharp criticism from Sweden's highest government agencies, the Swedish government defied Swedish law to allow 9,000 mainly undocumented Afghan men, whose asylum applications were rejected, to study in high school alongside Swedish adolescents.

  • As early as 2001, a news report by newspaper Dagen showed that Christian asylum seekers had their applications rejected in Sweden far more frequently than Muslim asylum seekers.

Self-proclaimed "humanitarian superpower" Sweden, with its pride in upholding "human rights," decided to take a 6-year old boy, who lost his mother, away from his grandparents and deport him to an orphanage in Ukraine. (Image is illustrative and does not represent the child in the article.)

In October, Sweden, which apparently likes to see itself as a "humanitarian superpower," decided to expel and deport a 6-year old boy to the Ukraine. The boy had been technically orphaned when his mother died and his father, who lives in the Ukraine, formally renounced custody of his child in a Ukrainian court. The boy, Denis, has no other relatives in the Ukraine and would therefore have to go straight to an orphanage.

In 2015, Denis's mother brought him from the Ukraine to Sweden -- where his mother's parents were already living. She applied for a residence permit for herself and her son, but it was rejected, for reasons apparently still undisclosed. News outlets do not seem to have been digging into why her original request was rejected. The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) decided to deport Denis, even though he is living with his maternal grandparents, who have applied to adopt the child.

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First Muslim Women in US Congress Misled Voters About Views on Israel

by Soeren Kern  •  November 16, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." — Ilhan Omar, in a tweet, November 2012.

  • "When a politician singles out Jewish allies as 'evil,' but ignores every brutal theocratic regime in the area, it's certainly noteworthy...." — David Harsanyi, New York Post.

  • "With many Jews expressing distaste for an 'illiberal' Israel, it's little surprise that the bulk of American Jewry isn't overly bothered about the election of Socialists who are unsympathetic to the Jewish state or consider Zionism to be racist." — Commentator Jonathan Tobin.

Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (pictured) and Rashida Harbi Tlaib will be the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the US Congress. During her campaign, Omar criticized anti-Israel boycotts. Less than a week after being elected, however, Omar admitted that she supports the boycotts. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Ilhan Abdullahi Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Harbi Tlaib of Michigan will be the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the US Congress. Most of the media coverage since their election on November 6 has been effusive in praise of their Muslim identity and personal history.

Less known is that both women deceived voters about their positions on Israel. Both women, at some point during their rise in electoral politics, led voters — especially Jewish voters — to believe that they held moderate views on Israel. After being elected, both women reversed their positions and now say they are committed to sanctioning the Jewish state.

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Why Renewed US Sanctions on Iran are Good News for Palestinians

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  November 15, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • What the Hamas official is actually saying is that thanks to Iran's backing, Hamas continues to hold hostage the two million residents of the Gaza Strip, whose lives have been literally destroyed by the Hamas leaders' policies.

  • The message that Hamas and PIJ are sounding is: How dare the US administration impose sanctions on Iran, the only country that is helping us in our effort to continue our terrorist attacks against Israel?

  • The renewed US sanctions on Iran are good news, however, for many Arabs and Muslims who feel threatened by Tehran's actions and rhetoric. Iran has long been systematically working towards undermining moderate Arabs and Muslims in the region.

  • The Palestinian Authority and Abbas are actually attacking a US administration that is seeking to undermine the enemies of Abbas: Hamas and Iran. The Palestinian Authority is, thus, aligning itself with its own enemies.

The US administration has decided to reinstate the sanctions against Tehran that were removed under the 2015 "nuclear deal." These sanctions are part of Washington's effort to curb Iran's missile and nuclear programs and diminish its influence in the Middle East. Pictured: US President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum that reinstates sanctions on Iran, at the White House on May 8, 2018. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If the United States is worried about imposing harsher sanctions on Iran, it should not give those concerns a second thought. Being unpopular with people who do not wish you well is probably the price of true leadership.

Those who are worried, and should be worried, are Iran and its Palestinian allies and friends.

The US administration has decided to reinstate the sanctions against Tehran that were removed under the 2015 "nuclear deal." These sanctions are part of Washington's effort to curb Iran's missile and nuclear programs and diminish its influence in the Middle East.

Iran has two major allies in the Palestinian arena: Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Islamist groups that control the Gaza Strip and do not recognize Israel's right to exist. Were it not for Iran's financial and military support, these two Palestinian groups would long ago have lost their grip on Gaza.

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Why Erdoğan's Charm Offensive Falls Flat

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 15, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • "Turkey remains the world's worst jailer for the second consecutive year, with 73 journalists behind bars, compared with 81 last year. Dozens more still face trial, and fresh arrests take place regularly." — The Committee to Protect Journalists, December 2017.

  • For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, apparently, as for the Saudis, there are "good journalists" and "bad journalists." He often refers to the latter group as "terrorists" and "traitors."

  • Erdoğan has tried so hard to use the murder of the Saudi journalist, Khashoggi, for a charm offensive mission to polish his badly tarnished image in the Western world. He is still trying hard to play the game. Sorry, Mr. President: It just does not work.

In 2016, journalist Can Dündar (pictured), along with his colleague Erdem Gül, was sentenced to five years in prison in Turkey for "revealing state secrets" after a front-page story in Cumhuriyet detailed how Turkey's security services had sent arms shipments to radical jihadis fighting in Syria. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

For weeks after the October 2 disappearance of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has behaved like the leader of a Western democracy: He feared there might have been a murder of the Saudi journalist, which Saudi officials later admitted; speaking loud and louder, he asked the Saudi authorities to bring the journalist's killers to justice; he offered them a trial in Turkey, and asked for their extradition; he urged the House of Saud to find and hand over to justice those who may have ordered the murder. He also shared audio evidence of the murder with Western leaders. Yet Erdoğan's public image in the more civilized parts of the world looks closer to that of the Saudi royals than to any Western leader. For that, he has can only himself to blame.

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The West Must Offer Immediate Asylum to Asia Bibi

by Giulio Meotti  •  November 14, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Asia Bibi is expected to remain in Pakistan until her case is once again "reviewed in an appeal process" ordered by the Prime Minister. Bibi's judicial process now looks infinite. Meanwhile, thousands of Islamists fill the Pakistani streets, calling for her execution.

  • Many of the values that make the West "the West" are now at stake in her fate: freedom of expression, religious freedom, freedom of movement, the rule of law, human dignity, and the separation of church and state. If the West does not fight for Asia Bibi, for whom should it fight?

  • "If Asia Bibi is denied asylum in the UK then what the heck is the point of the asylum system?" — Ayaan Hirsi Ali, refugee from Somalia, author and human rights campaigner.

  • A London where an ISIS-supporting preacher of Pakistani descent, Anjem Choudary, is free and comfortable, while a Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, would be unsafe and threatened, is the end of the West as we know it.

Asia Bibi's family has struggled for eight years to save her life, first to get her off of death row in Pakistan, where she was falsely imprisoned for "blasphemy," and now that she has been released, to try to get asylum for her in the West. Pictured: Eisham Masih, one of Asia Bibi's daughters, is greeted by Pope Francis in 2015. (Image source: HazteOir/Wikimedia Commons)

Asia Bibi's case looks as if it is coming from "another, medieval world."

Her "guilt," as an "unclean" Christian, was for drinking water from a communal well, used by Muslim neighbors. Two Muslim women alleged that because she, a Christian, had touched the water from the well, the entire well was now haram (forbidden by Islamic law). Bibi responded by saying "I think Jesus would see it differently from Mohammed," that Jesus had "died on the cross for the sins of mankind," and asked, "What did your Prophet Muhammad ever do to save mankind?" She was accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad and put on trial for "blasphemy." She was told to convert to Islam or die.

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The Jews of the North Africa under Muslim Rule

by Ruthie Blum  •  November 14, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • David Littman, before his untimely death from leukemia in 2012, had intended this book on the Maghreb to be the first in a series that would cover the social condition of the Jews in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Turkey -- an ambitious project that he was unable to tackle in its entirety.

  • "To his credit, King Mohammad VI has made a point of preserving the Jewish heritage of Morocco, especially its cemeteries. He has better relations with Israel than other Muslim countries but still does not recognize Israel and have diplomatic relations with the nation state of the Jewish People." — Alan M. Dershowitz, "What Is a 'Refugee'?"

  • "[T]he task of completing this exploration of the historical reality of Jewish existence under the Crescent rests upon future generations of researchers, to whom, it is hoped, our modest contribution will serve as an inspiration." — David Littman.

Exile in the Maghreb, co-authored by the great historian David G. Littman and Paul B. Fenton, is an ambitious tome contradicting the myth of how breezy it was for Jews to live in their homelands in the Middle East and North Africa when they came under Muslim rule.

"Ever since the Middle Ages," the book jarringly illustrates, "anti-Jewish persecution has been endemic to Muslim North Africa."

Littman, before his untimely death from leukemia in 2012, had intended this book on the Maghreb to be the first in a series that would cover the social condition of the Jews of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Turkey -- an ambitious project that he was unable to tackle in its entirety.

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Massive Missile Attack on Israel after Qatar Funds Hamas

by Bassam Tawil  •  November 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The renewed Hamas attacks on Israel serve as a reminder that the terrorist group is not interested in a real truce. Hamas wants millions of dollars paid to its employees so that it can continue to prepare for war with Israel while not having to worry about the welfare of its people.

  • Qatar's $15 million cash grant has failed to stop Hamas from launching hundreds of rockets into Israel. On the contrary, the money has only emboldened Hamas and increased its appetite to continue its jihad to eliminate Israel. All the money in the world will not convince Hamas to abandon its ideology or soften its position toward Israel.

  • What the international mediators need to understand is that there is only one solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip: removing Hamas from power and destroying its military capabilities. They also need to understand that there is only one language that Hamas understands: the language of force. The assumption that if you pay terrorists millions of dollars, they will stop attacking you -- rather than using the funds to build up their forces -- has proven to be false.

A bus burns near Kfar Aza, Israel, on November 12, 2018, after being hit by an anti-tank guided missile fired by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)

Last week, as efforts were underway to achieve a new truce between Hamas and Israel, this author asked a legitimate and straightforward question: Can Hamas be trusted?

The conclusion was that a real truce between Israel and Hamas can be achieved only after the Palestinian jihadi terrorists are removed from power, and not rewarded for violence and threats.

Days later, Hamas itself provided proof as to why it cannot be trusted with any deal, including a truce.

Since yesterday, Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip have been firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. The current barrage began hours after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli commandos inside the Gaza Strip, killing an Israeli officer and moderately wounding a soldier. In response, the Israeli army killed seven terrorists, including a top Hamas military commander -- Sheikh Nur Baraka.

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The "Separate" Palestinian State

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  November 12, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • To date, Hamas and Fatah have not been able to agree on the interpretation of the "reconciliation" agreements already signed. Fatah claims that the agreements are supposed to allow its Ramallah-based government to assume full responsibility over the Gaza Strip. Hamas, for its part, remains vehemently opposed to relinquishing security control over the Gaza Strip.

  • Abbas's official news agency, Wafa, issued a strongly worded statement accusing Hamas of being part of a "Zionist-American conspiracy" to detach the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. According to the statement, Hamas is now cooperating with the US and Israel to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip. "There will be no Palestinian state without the Gaza Strip, and there will be no [separate Palestinian] state in the Gaza Strip," the statement quoted Abbas as saying.

  • Abbas can continue to present himself to the world as the "President of the State of Palestine" as much as he wants. He is only living in an illusion: it is obvious by now that he does not represent the two million Palestinians who are living in a separate Hamas-controlled entity in the Gaza Strip. Abbas has not been able to set foot in the Gaza Strip for the past 11 years, and his chances of ever returning there now seem to be zero.

For the past 11 years, a number of Arab countries have tried to end the power struggle between Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction, to no avail. Several "reconciliation" agreements previously signed between Fatah and Hamas have never been implemented. Pictured: Abbas (right) and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal meet on November 24, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt, in one "reconciliation" attempt. (Photo by Mohammed al-Hams/Khaled Mashaal's Office via Getty Images)

Last week, Hamas began paying salaries to thousands of its employees after Qatar sent a $15 million grant in cash to the Gaza Strip. The money was brought to the Gaza Strip by senior Qatari envoy Mohammed El-Amadi through the Erez border crossing with Israel.

The Qatari grant is in the context of efforts by Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas.

The payment was the first of a total of $90 million that the emirate has pledged to send to the Gaza Strip in the next six months, according to Palestinian sources.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, however, remain opposed to an agreement; reports say that one of the reasons they are opposed to a truce accord between Israel and Hamas is because such a deal will pave the way for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.

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Thanks to Our Veterans

November 12, 2018 at 4:00 am

Ceremonial US Air Force guardsmen during a Veterans Day ceremony at the Luxembourg American Military Cemetery, November 11, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden)

Endless thanks to all the courageous veterans who have sacrificed so much to keep our free world free.

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A Bloodbath for Christians, No Response from Egypt

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  November 11, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Seven pilgrims were shot to death, "just because they were Christian," said Pope Francis after the attack.

  • "The pilgrims were killed in such a savage and sadistic way, as if they were enemy combatants, when they were just simple Christians come to get a blessing from a monastery." — Coptic Bishop Anba Makarios of Minya, Egypt.

  • "The minimum response expected from president El-Sisi is to dismiss the head of State Security and the governor of Minya, as a clear sign of holding officials accountable. Furthermore, given the government's continued failure to protect the Copts, Coptic Solidarity vigorously calls for an independent inquiry by the UN to evaluate the Copts' situation and to recommend necessary measures to alleviate their increasingly perilous situation..." — Coptic Solidarity, Washington, DC.

On November 2, heavily armed Islamic terrorists ambushed and massacred Christians returning home after visiting the ancient St. Samuel Monastery (pictured) in Minya, Egypt. (Image source: Roland Unger/Wikimedia Commons)

On November 2, heavily armed Islamic terrorists ambushed and massacred Christians returning home after visiting the ancient St. Samuel Monastery in Minya, Egypt.

Seven pilgrims -- including a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy -- were shot to death. More than 20 were left injured with bullet wounds or shards of broken glass from the buses' windows. "I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they were Christian," said Pope Francis after the attack.

Pictures posted on social media reveal "bodies soaked in blood and distorted faces of men and women." In one video posted, a man can be heard crying, "The gunshot got you in the head, my boy!" and repeating, "What a loss!"

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